How to teach all students to think critically

By Peter Ellerton, The University of Queensland

All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills.

The new course would be an elective next year and mandatory in 2016 with the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for education and students Shirley Alexander saying the aim is to give students some maths “critical thinking” skills.

This is a worthwhile goal, but what about critical thinking in general?

Most tertiary institutions have listed among their graduate attributes the ability to think critically. This seems a desirable outcome, but what exactly does it mean to think critically and how do you get students to do it?

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Who is ‘you’?

An exploration of what we might mean by ‘me’.

First – Identity short film (very good for class discussion)

Second   Who am I? – very useful website as well.

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The 2015 Queensland Philosophy and Reason syllabus

Did you know Queensland has Taught Philosophy and Logic as a senior subject for around 100 years?  Here is the new syllabus.  Notice the focus on the skill of argumentation.

Queensland Senior Philosophy and Reason syllabus

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Are we individual or social creatures?

How does the concept of individuality affect politics?individuality

Commentary from The Stone New York Times.

Here’s a pdf

Evolution and the American Myth of the Individual – NYTimes.com

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The Ethics of Robot Cars

How about robot cars with ethics settings adjusted to suite the driver?

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Here’s a Terrible Idea: Robot Cars With Adjustable Ethics Settings

Here’s a PDF

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Free Will and the Genome Project

From Philosophy and Public Affairs – click here for PDF

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Watch what you think….

What you think is right may actually be wrong – here’s why

By Peter Ellerton

We like to think that we reach conclusions by reviewing facts, weighing evidence and analysing arguments. But this is not how humans usually operate, particularly when decisions are important or need to be made quickly.

What we usually do is arrive at a conclusion independently of conscious reasoning and then, and only if required, search for reasons as to why we might be right.

The first process, drawing a conclusion from evidence or facts, is called inferring; the second process, searching for reasons as to why we might believe something to be true, is called rationalising.

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Hume’s criticism of the design argument

Hume-Dialogues – Jeff Speaks

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Another resource for Fallacies of Reasoning

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Great resource and very accessible to students.

 

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Biased sample? Circular reasoning?

Discuss.

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Science and Conspiracy

A useful resource produced by NASA debunking claims that the moon landings were faked.

Debunking moon landing conspiracies

fake-moon-landing-set

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The Limits of Imagination

New Colour

Discuss

 

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What use Philosophy?

Science v Philosophy

Discuss.

 

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Truth Puzzles booklet

A useful teaching resource in deductive logic.  Booklet of logic puzzles.

Truth Puzzles

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Can We Choose To Believe Something?

photo

Discuss

 

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Honesty and Charity in Arguments

From NYTimes – By GARY GUTTING, The Stone

Link – As a philosophy professor, I spend much of my time thinking about the arguments put forward by professional philosophers. As a citizen (and an occasional columnist for The Stone), I also spend lots of time thinking about the arguments put forward by Democrats and Republicans on currently disputed political issues.

How to Argue About Politics – here’s the PDF

 

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A Useful Introduction to Critical Thinking Skills

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Analogy

Another analogy brought to you by Dilbert.

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Whose brain is it? Consciousness, free will and the brain.

If ‘I’ change ‘my’ mind?  Then where do ‘I’ fit in?

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The Tale of the Slave

Robert Nozick’s dangerous question.

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