The Critical Mind

Sorry falks, this post is long, but it was spontaneous, I couldn’t help it, and had to post it in two parts.

Many Muslims come visit my blog, thinking that I’m a lost soul that needs “refinement!”, or someone who “magnifies the bad” because she (me) does not understand “True Islam”. Some even feel sorry for me; my past tragedies are to blame for the permanent damage in my “head!”. But some are so damn arrogant to believe that for no apparent reasons, I’m as stubborn as a mule when it comes to my beliefs.

You see, they don’t understand that I have a skeptical mind, a mind that is critical to everything.

My daughter is studying psychology online with a Canadian University. In one of her main textbook’s introductory pages, under “To the Student ”, I saw a note from the administration that read:
“Critical thinking applications
Each personal application is always followed by a two-page Critical Thinking Application that teaches and models basic critical thinking skills… Like the personal applications they are part of the text’s basic content and should be read unless you are told otherwise by your instructor. Although the “facts” of psychology will gradually change after you take this course …the critical thinking molded in these sections should prove valuable for many years to come.”

How true. Pay attention to the bold and the italic words.

This is the method of education we need in our schools, at least starting in high schools. This type of education creates true science and scientists. It gives an analytical tool to express one’s own opinion, instead of taking other’s imposed thoughts for granted. Memorization and repetition methods, that we inherited from our ancestor’s Islamic civilization only created zombies (pun intended). But this method of education creates true skeptics. Skeptics who are always in search of evidence. And who forever seek knowledge. And who are the most believers when they find their evidences and reach their own logic, their own truths.

But unfortunately; a critical mind is critical to everything, every little aspect of life; religion included. One can’t have a hurricane overflowing everything, but casting off the taboo zone. It’s like a fountain, once it opens, it can never stop, and it may overflow and demolish all old beliefs, but it creates a peace of mind.
Critical thinking method created science, invented machines, prolonged the average age of man, critical thinking method is the way of the civilized West, the West that proved that earth is not flat, and that the sun did not change course as a result of the prayers of man, as far as we know.

The best of what our method of education did was producing university doctors, with spotlight certificates, displayed on glossy walls that says “PHDers”, but don’t ask in what? They teach generation after generation how to be herded. But unable to give a decent speech in their own field, in front of an audience. Let alone give a free speech.

Memorization is important, especially when the student starts an introductory course into a subject. It gives the student a wealth of terminology necessary for communication. But it should not be the bases on which to build a whole educational system. We should not encourage our children to memorize “the ideal solutions” in one of those printed “solutions” handbooks to insure that they get the highest grades; this is cheating. This is stealing someone else thoughts and style, and not expressing their own ideas, their own perception of the right solution, or the right answer to a question. We should let them express the solution in their own natural way, through critical thinking tools. The critical mind has the ability to see that solution from different perspectives, and wider range.

Few days ago I noticed my son writing some math equations down on a piece of paper, when he finished he said; “ now I’m done with my cheat page.” When he saw my eyes wide open, he exclaimed, “don’t worry mom, it’s legal.” Apparently the teacher asked them to write down some of the equations they could not memorize, and students were allowed to peek on that page whenever they wanted while taking the quiz. More or less like open book exams. How convenient! LOL
Memorizing equations to my son’s teacher apparently was not the bases on which the students were graded, but rather, which equations to use and how to manipulate and use those equations to reach the correct answers.

But, how could we encourage our children’s critical thinking capabilities when we do not want them to be “critical” in the first place?

To be continued

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. intlxpatr
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 14:04:05

    “Memorizing equations to my son’s teacher apparently was not the bases on which the students were graded, but rather, which equations to use and how to manipulate and use those equations to reach the correct answers.”

    Woooo Hooooooo! A teacher who wants the kids to have the tools and to know how to apply them! What a novel way of thinking!

    Reply

  2. شرقاوي
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 22:03:03

    critical thinking = problem-solving

    Reply

  3. kila_ma6goog
    Feb 01, 2008 @ 00:18:28

    hmmm

    mumtaz:)

    Reply

  4. AyyA
    Feb 02, 2008 @ 01:14:28

    Intl
    Long time, missed you girl.
    And yes, but I was appalled when I first heard him say that… LOL

    Sharqawi
    Definitely

    KM
    I’m honored 🙂

    Reply

  5. Touché
    Feb 02, 2008 @ 19:46:11

    I remember those cheat notes, they did wonders.

    Never having to worry about memorizing all those equations and utilizing the time into actually knowing how to use them and understanding the break down of all of their derivatives.
    Concentrating on the contents rather worrying about a frigging symbol.

    The opening of the post was intense and somehow my comment missed the essence of the post and aimed to the new educational method.

    I think another post to illustrate such a controversial point of view regarding skepticism is needed.

    Does it really improve one’s mentality to keep questioning everything? does it really help to reach a peaceful mental state where many things are illuminated?

    I think there are certain things (very few tings) that are best kept unquestioned as there is no sense in questioning them and no good ends shall be uncovered.

    Reply

  6. AyyA
    Feb 03, 2008 @ 02:06:58

    Touché
    “The opening of the post was intense and somehow my comment missed the essence of the post and aimed to the new educational method.”

    You did not, if you observe it carefully, it’s all connected. But I agree with you that “another post to illustrate such a controversial point of view regarding skepticism is needed. Does it really improve one’s mentality to keep questioning everything? does it really help to reach a peaceful mental state where many things are illuminated?”, yet this is beyond this post, but I do appreciate some debate on that. I’m open for discussion.

    “I think there are certain things (very few tings) that are best kept unquestioned as there is no sense in questioning them and no good ends shall be uncovered.”
    This I do not agree with, and the detail for the reason is presented in my next post.

    Reply

  7. Prince Of Persia
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 03:17:50

    I want to ask you only one Question and i need all proves you can get me for it
    Did Muslims create or invent anything or make a great civilization ? or they just copy what before them and claimed it for their own ??

    Reply

  8. AyyA
    Feb 05, 2008 @ 11:20:53

    Muslims did indeed have a great civilization, yet, it was short lived; it did not last more than a hundred years at the onset of the Abbasid and the Andalusia epoch. Yet, their civilization did not just pup-out from void, nor was taken (literally) from Quran as many want to believe. But I believe that their curiosity to break the mystery of their new religion was the drive. Especially among the newly converted, non-Arabs who amalgamated knowledge from their own older civilizations with their new religious studies, and had the languages that aided them in translating books in all fields; mythology, science and philosophy. And therefore, ended up enhancing it and building on it. But the zenith of Muslem prosperity was during Al-Mamun, Haroon Alrashid’s son from an Iranian slave girl. He was the one who started and encouraged such translations, and here is a quote from Answers.com:
    “Al-Mamun became an enthusiast for Greek thought and is credited with the foundation of the “House of Wisdom,” an institute for translating foreign, especially Greek, books into Arabic. Translations had been made of Sanskrit and Persian works in the time of his great-grand-father and of Greek books in that of his father. Many Greek books were already extant in Iraq in Syriac translations, and most of the first translations into Arabic were made by Christians from these Syriac versions. The earliest interest of the Arabs was in astronomy (with astrology) and medicine, but Greek philosophy also attracted attention.”

    I believe it was also him (not sure), who offered each book written or translated, it’s weight in gold. And that was the reason why many books written or translated at his time survived. Heavier books meant better quality.
    And nothing is wrong with that; new civilizations pick up where older civilizations leave off. Jewish philosophers in Andalusia translated Arabic books to Hebrew and Latin, and Europe picked up where Muslims left off, ironically though, most in religious studies and philosophy.
    Now as for your question to bring a proof that any Muslim scientist invented anything, Islamic sources would count many, you can refer to them on the Net. But whether they were the original inventors, or just enhancers of previously known inventions is hard to tell for many reasons. The most important reason is because the information we have today, all go back to one source, usually the writer himself. Another reason is the difficulty to lay a hand on books of older inventions, of which some were completely destroyed and only referred to in other books or scrolls that survived.

    Now my question: why do you ask?
    🙂

    Reply

  9. Offensive Christian
    Feb 11, 2008 @ 06:08:57

    If critical thinking is an absolute value for you are there any items which are off the table of discussion? Is everything open to debate?

    Reply

  10. RowlAppawlell
    Feb 25, 2008 @ 04:30:59

    To me it is necessary to find

    Reply

  11. Kathy
    May 19, 2008 @ 13:29:23

    Wonderful and informative web site.I used information from that site its great.u

    Reply

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