Friday, October 26, 2012

Critical thinking is critical to teaching

I've my regular ABC column up today, 'Critical thinking critical to teaching'.

I'm arguing for the importance of philosophical thought in teaching--it is fundamental, not an optional extra. A sample:
No doubt it is hard to dedicate oneself to teaching when one's job is not secure, for example. An ACTU study reports that over a third of workers on fixed-term contracts, for example, are in education. In Victoria, more than half of teachers in their first five years of employment are on short-term contracts, often a year or less. Teachers are also regularly deprived of the resources and autonomy to give each student the time they need. And then there are the extras, yard duty, new policies, family commitments, and the usual juggles of workaday life. As for some academics, thought becomes a luxury. 
My point is one of clarity and honesty. First, it is important to recognise that critical thinking - just plain 'thinking' in the vernacular - is not an optional extra in education. It is fundamental. To give up on critical thinking is to give up on education itself; on the consistent examination that keeps facts fresh and dispositions sharp. And it is vital to be honest about what's missed when thought is forsaken in this way. 
When we say "I don't want to think," we are also saying "I don't want to teach."
(Photo: State Library of Queensland)

No comments: