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Higher Level Thinking

August 30, 2005

Many teachers grow timid when one suggests to them that they should
engage their students in higher level thinking. I try, as often
as possible, to ask the difficult questions to my students, to
challenge them, and to encourage them to think outside of the
box. So, why do so many adults think that you are confusing
children or being too hard on them if you make them think critically
instead of simply replaying what they’ve been told verbatim?

My only conclusion is that these adults, themselves, have long since
given up higher level thinking. They are content with the
mundane. Thinking takes too much work and too much time away from
the simple pleasures of ignorance. They never question
anything. I’m sure they did at one time, but there was probably
an adult over them who crushed any dreams of intellectual maturation
and forced them into dormancy.

For that I can say that most Americans do not think deeply and never
ponder their own realities. Why are we happy with mythology
(particularly Greek Mythology) but afraid of philosophy? Is it
because mythology is pretend and philosophy is real? Is it
because philosophy challenges you to think and mythology helps you
forget reality?Â

What I’ve found is that when a teacher starts to ask the deeper
questions, students get more involved. They don’t want to sit
around and recite dates of historical events while ignoring the
significance of them. They don’t want to be told a particular war
was beneficial to America or the world and not be allowed to decide for
themselves whether or not it was beneficial. And what of free
thought and free expression?

Challenge your students and encourage them to question everything, even you.

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