Simple Questions can Reveal A Lot

Yesterday, in my Political Science entry, I commented on the difference between training and education. It is something I write about quite often on this blog. One aspect of education is learning to ask questions that lead to insight. This is called the Socratic Method.

I don’t really believe in genius. Some people have an aptitude to memorize facts or to do math very quickly. These abilities provide a tremendous advantage to do what is actually meaningful – problem solving. But I have never seen an emergency that was averted because someone could name Pi to the 83rd decimal. So it just depends on the situation.

Those with the skill of critical thinking, quickly and seamlessly, apply the Socratic Method to get to the root of the problem. They ask questions looking for clarification, vetting assumptions, inspecting evidence, understanding perspective, and  possible outcomes. In a society with pressures for quick answers, going through this method is not a universal occurrence. It’s a lost art.

Next time we think about teaching and the statistics of other nations, consider philosophy and the recent statistics about it.

When Louisiana’s regents voted to eliminate the philosophy major last spring, they agreed with faculty members that the subject is “a traditional core program of a broad-based liberal arts and science institution.” But they noted that, on average, 3.4 students had graduated as philosophy majors in the previous five years; in 2008,there were none. “One cannot help but recognize that philosophy as an essential undergraduate program has lost some credence among students,”the board concluded.


Working Thoughts 01/26/09
Happy Chinese New Year and Era


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