I believe, however, that underlying these differences there is a unity of thinking that can be identified in terms of the abstract ability to make careful observations, form generalizations, identify patterns, propose explanations, draw out their logical consequences, separate the different variables, identify the circumstances which would test or choose between explanations, and so on.
Differences in disciplinary thinking across domains lie in the selection of thinking mechanisms, their relative emphasis, and their specific manifestation. We may include this common core of disciplinary thinking abilities as general thinking abilities. To go back to our distinction between skills and abilities, we may note that intellectual skills such as those involved in the calculation of the square root of a number, in the identification of the logical fallacy in a five line derivation of an inference, using the t-test to assess the significance of an experimental finding, the breaking up of a sentence into its parts, etc.
However, these skills by themselves should not be equated with thinking abilities. Unfortunately, current practice in many educational institutions provides the training necessary for the acquisition of the lower order intellectual skills without any attempt to provide the education that aims at the higher order thinking abilities. Observe that thinking ability, whether general or domain-specific, presupposes knowledge. In order to think critically about a doctor's recommendation, one needs medical information of the kind that is generally available in a good medical encyclopaedia.
In order to assess the credibility of the claim that there is life on Mars, one needs a minimal amount of information about the environment of Mars, and how scientists make inferences from fossil remains. Let us proceed further. I began by characterizing educatedness as the enhanced capability to cope successfully with novel situations. Now, novel situations may demand additional or advanced information and additional or advanced thinking abilities. Moreover, the information and thinking abilities that one can draw upon to meet the demands of life keep expanding, and hence there is no point at which the acquisition of knowledge, skills and abilities can be said to be complete.
It follows therefore that an educated person should have the capability to enhance and modify their knowledge and thinking abilities on an ongoing basis so as to cope with novel situations and to cope with them in a more successful manner. This is a requirement on the capability for independent learning:. An educated person should be capable of independent learning that facilitates coping with and adapting to the changing environment.
If we accept this requirement, it follows that a person who does not have the capability for independent learning cannot be considered educated.
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Imagine, for instance, individuals with an undergraduate degree in biology who come to be in government positions that require some knowledge of psychology and sociology. If such individuals cannot make use of the available resources in bookstores, libraries and the world wide web to teach themselves the necessary psychology and sociology, we should say that they possess a university degree, but have a serious gap in their education. Independent learning is not merely the ability to use the library and internet to acquire the knowledge that others have generated.
It also involves the ability to generate knowledge on one's own, either based on an existing body of knowledge, or creating knowledge where none existed. The ability to generate knowledge is research, which calls for the mastery of the modes of rational inquiry which have evolved over a long time in academic disciplines. The highest form of learning abilities in any discipline, therefore, are the modes of inquiry characteristic of that discipline. Unfortunately, very few educational programs actually succeed in helping students meet this requirement.
Learning involves the expansion, modification, and rectification of existing information, and the expansion and strengthening of thinking abilities. I take it that educated sociologists should be able to pick up a couple of textbooks on neuropsychology and expand their existing knowledge of how the brain works, motivated either by curiosity, or by the need to understand social behaviour in terms of the functioning of the human brain. They should also be able to modify their existing beliefs about society on the basis of new information.
In many cases, it may also involve rejecting some of the beliefs which were once held to be correct. The process of learning that students undergo in most educational settings calls for the expansion of information, but very little by way of modification and rectification.
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As a result of this skewed practice, students develop a mind set that is capable of adding new beliefs to the existing set, but relatively incapable of modifying or rejecting old beliefs, a result that makes them defective learners. Let me take an example of this form of mental damage from my personal experience of teaching linguistics.
I find that students who have learnt in one module that there are 44 "phonemes" in English panic when they see in another module an account that postulates 28 phonemes on the basis of evidence from a range of facts. They find it hard to reject the 44 phoneme account even when they are faced with striking evidence against it.
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Similarly, students who are told that in the sentence Mary gave the boy a book. How can they reject something that they learnt in their past as "knowledge"? As I see it, the inability to modify or abandon a currently held belief is one of the most serious problems induced by the style of functioning in most current educational set ups all over the world. Part of the cause is the mode of education that presents human knowledge as a collection of infallible facts, transmits ideas without evidence, does not distinguish between facts and interpretations, and does not provide the foundations for systematic questioning.
Starting our exploration of educatedness with knowledge, we found that the abilities of thinking and learning are closely tied up with knowledge. We now move on to the third ability in our list, namely, language, which interacts closely with both thinking and learning. Whether in an institutional setting or otherwise, human beings need to think and learn in a community. The remarkable advancement of knowledge in the physical sciences, for instance, has been possible not only because of the thinking and learning of the individuals by themselves, but also because the community of physical scientists thought and learnt almost as an organism, thereby enriching the memory of the community.
Without language, it would be impossible to have socially evolving knowledge guided by social thinking and learning.
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Language plays a central role in constructing, critically evaluating, transmitting, and receiving knowledge. Let us refer to this as the epistemic function of language. We may therefore formulate our next educational requirement as follows:.
An educated person should be capable of using language clearly, precisely and effectively for epistemic purposes. Once again, it is important to bear in mind that no educational program in an institution can equip the learner with mastery of all the necessary modes of reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
We expect, for instance, that an educated person should be able to read and write what may be called "general academic prose". By "general academic prose", I refer to the kind of non-fiction prose meant for educated lay readers, such as in Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time or C. Snow's The Two Cultures.
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Now, we cannot expect all educated people to be able to write the specialized varieties of prose needed for reports of biology experiments, advertisements, newspaper articles, or for memos in a corporate institution, but we do expect them to be able to learn these styles if the need arises. To go back to our earlier distinction between education and training, helping students to learn to write well in general and to acquire the capability to learn specialized modes of writing are part of education, while teaching people to write a particular variety of writing for a specific purpose is a form of training.
Mind Set In the preceding discussion, we focused on knowledge and thinking-learning-language abilities as the ingredients that explicit instruction in the educational setting should aim at. Now, there is a collection of qualities that we associate with education which are somewhat elusive, and can only indirectly be imbibed from the educational climate, not directly through instruction.
These qualities, which I will collectively refer to as the mind set for want of better terminology, includes the following ingredients:. An awareness of the uncertainty and fallibility of human knowledge including so called "objective" scientific knowledge. The willingness to deal with degrees of uncertainty, without demanding the correct answer or the Absolute Truth.
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This involves the ability to be committed to a belief while simultaneously being aware of the possibility of its being false. The willingness to doubt and question propositions that are claimed as knowledge, by others including "authorities" as well as by ourselves, and the unwillingness to accept knowledge claims that are unaccompanied by sufficient evidence. An openness of mind that allows one to modify and abandon earlier beliefs on the basis of new evidence, as well as the willingness and ability to look for such evidence.
A personal involvement in knowledge as a set of beliefs. When presented with, say, Piaget's theory of mental development, the average university students learn it as a set of propositions that Piaget believed. They do not ask, "Do I believe these propositions? On what grounds should I accept or reject them? Without personal engagement, knowledge cannot take root in an individual's mind. Intellectual curiosity and enjoyment of knowledge, thinking, and learning in themselves.
A student becomes an independent learner only when learning becomes its own reward. Independent learning cannot flourish in an educational environment where knowledge, thinking, and learning are associated with pain and boredom, pursued only for the pragmatic goals of material success in life. The properties of the mind listed above cannot be brought about by explicit instruction, but we hope that given the right educational environment and role models, these qualities would grow and strengthen in the minds of the learners.
Among the qualities mentioned above, the ability to subject one's own beliefs to the process of critical thinking requires special emphasis. Critical thinking requires the capacity and predilection to seek rational grounds for accepting or rejecting beliefs. There are at least three successively difficult levels of the critical scrutiny of beliefs, expressible in terms of the following questions:. How can I show that I am right and my opponent is wrong? What kind of rational grounds would support my beliefs and refute my opponent's beliefs? How can I check if the authority I trust teacher, textbook, community is right or wrong?
What kinds of rational grounds would justify my acceptance or rejection of the beliefs that I am exposed to? How can I check if I am wrong or my opponent is right? Most countries appreciate the importance of education in their future economic well-being. Therefore, governments invest heavily in education. They ensure that people can access quality education. A country should not focus on institutions of higher learning and neglect elementary schools.
This is because elementary school provides a solid foundation for the younger generation. Quality education increases the number of educated people in the society. Educated people are the role models of the society. The society has high expectations on educated people.
In various parts of the world, university students have helped in mobilizing political uprisings against dictatorial powers. Therefore, the main responsibilities of educated people to the society are contributing to the development of various spheres of the society, imparting knowledge to the younger generation, and achieving personal success in accordance with their own expectations.
Therefore, it is the duty of educated people to ensure ensure the advancement of the welfare of the society. Societies usually face various problems. Education may enable the society to overcome some of the problems. Therefore, it is the duty of an educated person to devise strategies that would help the society overcome the problems. Educated people should apply their knowledge and critical thinking skills in solving the problems that the society faces. An educated person with legal knowledge should use it to solve the legal issues that the society faces.
On the other hand, an educated person with environmental knowledge should use the knowledge to help in tackling various environmental issues that the society faces. Educated people should also help in solving the social issues that the society faces. Young educated people have helped in political uprisings against dictatorial power. Educated people usually use their critical thinking skills to device success strategies against dictatorial leaderships.
This may lead to the political emancipation of the society Higgins Looking for research paper on education? Let's see if we can help you! It is hard for dictators to rule in countries that have high levels of education.