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The Scientific Method and Critical Thinking Skills: Where Have They Gone?

Updated on January 9, 2013

THE FOUNDATION FOR THIS DISCUSSION

Let me first tell you the steps of the Scientific Method so that we have a base framework for this discussion. The steps of the Scientific Method are as follows:

· Ask a question

· Do background research

· Construct a hypothesis

· Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment

· Analyze your data and draw a conclusion

· Communicate your results

To further add to this discussion, I’m going to give you a definition of Critical Thinking that I found on a website called WiseGeek:

“Critical thinking is the ability to apply reasoning and logic to new or unfamiliar ideas, opinions, and situations. Thinking critically involves seeing things in an open-minded way and examining an idea or concept from as many angles as possible.”

Now we are ready for our chat about the Scientific Method.

Always the teacher
Always the teacher | Source

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

I have had a rather odd teaching experience. I began teaching in a junior college back in 1977. Two years of high school teaching followed that, and then a ten year detour occurred so that I did not return to teaching until 1990. Twelve years of middle school education followed, then some time off, followed by three years of middle school and high school, all ending in 2006. In other words, my teaching career of eighteen years has spanned grades 6-13 and has also spanned from 1977-2006, almost thirty years in actual time.

That is important in that it has given me a certain perspective that only time will give. I have witnessed some remarkable changes in the educational system over that thirty year span, and I do not necessarily use the word ‘remarkable’ in a good sense.

The most glaring change that I saw over that period was a gradual move away from critical thinking and towards test-result teaching, and to say that I think this adversely affected our students and this country would be a gross understatement.

A VOICE FROM THE PAST

I attended a keynote speech at a teacher’s conference back in 1993, and the speaker was Fr. William O’Malley from Boston, a respected educator on the national level at that time. I cannot find the speech now that I need it, naturally, but I remember the key points like I heard it yesterday. In his brilliant speech, Fr. O’Malley stated that the most important thing we can teach our students is to think critically. Remember that this was just about the time that education in America was beginning to steer towards standardized testing as the know-all, be-all, word from on high, so to say that critical thinking was more important than test results was somewhat of a heresy.

However, I absolutely concur with Fr. O’Malley!

The Scientific Method has been an accepted method of learning for over a thousand years. It put the onus of learning in the lap of the student. It teaches a person to ask questions, gather evidence, test that evidence, and draw conclusions and then…..announce those conclusions for others to analyze.

In no way does the Scientific Method instruct one to turn immediately to the internet for the answer!

We have a duty to prepare kids for their entire lives.
We have a duty to prepare kids for their entire lives. | Source

MY OWN EXPERIENCE FROM THOSE TEACHING YEARS

What I found over the span of thirty years was that fewer students knew how to think critically the closer I came to the end of my career. Critical thinking and the use of the Scientific Method were common tools used in 1977 when I began. They were practically unseen in 2006.

God knows I tried.

By 2006 the preferred method of “discovery” was to do a search on the web. The source of the information found was never questioned, and invariably the first search result was looked upon as gospel.

I have no doubt….none at all….that Wikipedia is the number one go-to reference site for students today.

LET ME ASK YOU THIS

Do you see the inherent dangers in teaching rote learning rather than critical thinking?

Memorize the important events in American History from 1861-1865 and repeat them back to me. Simple enough, right, and most students can do that if they have to.

Now, ask those same students the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation as it relates to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and I wonder what the answers would be. Better yet, ask those students to give examples from 2013 that prove that the Emancipation Proclamation truly was a great historical document.

If you are a betting man or woman, do not bet on the students at this point in the discussion.

Now for the truly scary part of the discussion.

Take new graduates from high school and put them in the workforce. Teach them how to do their job, and turn them loose to be good little worker bees. All is going according to plan until there is a snag in the process. How many of those graduates do you think can look at the problem and devise ways to solve it so that they can continue working?

Better yet, put those graduates in a family situation where they have a hubsband/wife and children, and they are suddenly faced with a monumental problem that threatens to derail their plastic, fantastic life, and how do you suppose they will do?

PARENTS….TEACHERS….UNITE!

I will say this as plainly as I possibly can: this backwards thinking needs to stop, because we are doing a disservice to kids in this country. Children need to learn how to solve problems, and they need to be prepared for real-life problems after school. If they are not given critical thinking skills….if they are not taught the Scientific Method and how it applies to all facets of life….then we have failed them as teachers and yes, as parents.

Parents, if you are waiting for an educational revolution then you are in for a long wait. Funding in most school districts is being slashed. Critical thinking must be taught at home, and it begins very early on.

Teachers, you must find a way to incorporate this into your lesson plans. You must train yourselves to make sure that you not only teach to the test but you also teach to life skills, and there is no more important life skill than to teach a child how to problem solve!

My days in the classroom are over. In fact, my days as a daily-active parent are over. I can only share my experience, strength, and hope, and then sit back and watch what happens. Hopefully, some of you will take something from this and apply it in your own life, with your own children.

I pray that you do; your children are depending on you to do so!

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

Demand that your child receive a complete education
Demand that your child receive a complete education | Source

SO WHAT DO WE DO?

Well, quite frankly, if you are relying on the school system to fix this little hiccup, you are in for a long wait. School systems are linked to funding by the standardized test, and there is little time for extra efforts like teaching critical thinking.

That leaves the burden on the parents, and if critical thinking skills are not provided by the parents, the first time the student will learn about them is in college, and at that point they will be floundering.

Time and time and time again, when I was teaching, the students who excelled in middle school and high school were the students who had been taught these skills at home. Their parents actively challenged them at home to think for themselves. Life at home was an extension of school and in many situations the home classroom was higher learning while the school classroom was remedial learning.

Do you think I am joking? Let me give you an example that I clearly remember from 1998. At that time I was teaching at St. Michael School in Olympia, Washington. St. Michael was a private school. Those middle school students, after graduation, went on to Olympia High School, a public high school.

In November of 1998, the Language Arts teacher and I were doing cooperative learning units based on classic literature like “The Lord of the Flies” and “Withering Heights.” One afternoon we got a call from Olympia High School asking us if we would please not teach the classic literature because that was part of the high school curriculum. It turned out that St. Michael graduates were too far ahead of their peers who had attended a public middle school, and we were causing a problem at the high school that they had no answer for.

That was in 1998, fourteen years ago. Can you imagine how large that gap in learning is now?

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pearl, the school systems are doing such a disservice to the kids today. Many of them are simply not ready for real life, and actions like your brother-in-law will lead to disastrous results for many. I simply don't understand that kind of parenting, but I saw it many times when I was teaching. I know many parents who did the work for their children, and I'm not sure what they thought they were accomplishing when they did that.

      Sad....very sad!

      Thank you my friend; I hope you are having a great Sunday!

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Billy, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I am so grateful that my parents and grandparents taught us to figure things out by observation and research. They taught us how to start, but from there we were on our own. I have railed against my brother-in-law for the last 10 years because of the way he 'solves my niece's problems' for her. He has told her many times that things are too hard for her, so she doesn't need to try so hard. He has actually done homework for her every school night and expected her to pass tests on her own! I just don't understand that kind of thinking. As a result she sits in her room with earbuds and her ipod totally content to do nothing. She is 17 years old and absolutely incapable of being on her own in the real world.

      I am so glad you have brought this to light. I am praying that parents will read it and think about how it relates to their children, and actually DO SOMETHING!

      You tackled this topic in your usual excellent way, and I applaud your efforts my friend! Voted Way Up+

      Pearl

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, I knew you would approve of this message. :) Schools need to turn this around before we lose too many more generations.

      Thank you as always and have a great weekend.

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      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I am so glad that the local college where I teach mandates Critical Thinking in the curriculum. I see students who do not know how to problem solve, lack creative thinking and logic. It is a result of not being challenged at home and in schools. Voted way up!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Becky, that is actually an excellent point. One learns very quickly to make do and be creative when one has no money. As for taxing us to death, we're getting closer to that day, aren't we?

      Thank you and have a wonderful weekend.

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      It dawns on me that being poor may help people recover some of their creative and critical thinking. I have noticed how much harder you have to think to get things done and fixed when you don't have the money to just go out and buy a new one. Maybe when the government taxes us all to death, we will start thinking again.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, I finally figured out that you did these in a batch. If I did that I'd be seeing cross-eyed after all the reading. :) Science Fairs seem to be something most schools do, and I hope they keep doing them. Thank you as always.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Interesting hub Bill. If you have not figured it out by now, every few days I go through my hubpage email notifications and read all of the hubs by people I follow. That's why you get bombarded with comments on one day. Anyway....when I saw this title, I immediately thought of the hub you published right before this one. Technology. Answers are now at your fingertip and students don't have to do much thinking. They are also too busy preparing for standardized tests. I was happy to see my daughter has a science fair coming up. At least schools are not doing away with that kind of thinking yet! Up and interesting and pinned.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Phoenix, that is an excellent example, and I've seen many such instances of that while teaching. If they thought there were going to be good little parrots in my classroom they were sadly mistaken. :) Thank you my friend, and have a great weekend in the UK.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      I had first hand knowledge of this in my first year of HS 1975. Our history teacher asked for the meaning of imperialism. A fair amount of hand went up in the air. The teacher picked one and was rewarded with a verbatim definition of the word we had learned the previous day. The stickler came when the teacher then asked the student what exactly the definition meant. That student, and the rest of us, were stumped. The teacher wasn't looking for regurgitated information; he wanted to know what imperialism meant in practical terms. How did it affect the local economy? Did it conflict with the culture of the indigenous people? He wanted to know what it did not so much what it was. He wanted us to really think about it; not just parrot back answers.

      It was my first lesson in how to think for myself. How to find my own answers and to not accept everything at face value. It gave me a sense of self-reliance and confidence that benefits me to this day. To deny children opportunities to develop critical thinking would be equal to denying ourselves a better future.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      vnsatakopan, exactly my point! It is too easy nowadays to get an instant answer, one that requires no work. Never mind that the answer may be wrong.

      Thank you my friend!

    • vnsatakopan profile image

      Dr.Vangeepuram Navaneetham Satakopan 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      One can understand your anguish. Fifty years back, we did not have sophisticated technology and yet, some remarkable scientific discoveries were made. Now-a-days students prefer to move away from pure science in quest of faster progress (?). They don't have the time to sweat it out in the labs. More worryingly. they don't want to make their brains tired.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, you have mentioned my number one concern with all of this....the future is not resting in the hands of the knowledgeable right now. :)

      Thank you my dear friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, it is scary stuff for sure. My parents used to do research on candidates for political office....I have done the same. I wonder how many out there now do research before voting? My guess is too few.

      Thank you Kindred! I hope your week is going well.

      love,

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martin.....LOL.....excellent comment!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      It is so very sad in today's world that youngsters can find answers to almost anything on the Net. We had to learn and remember when I was in school and to this day I know all my times tables up to 12 off by heart.

      This lazier attitude is not going to benefit anyone. Have A Wonderful Day.

      Eddy.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Bill, what a great hub. Although I am far removed from the educational system these days, I see the signs across many platforms in our society that we are being discouraged from being able to think, critically or otherwise. Even common sense has been eradicated by the world of technology, where one pushes a button to make things happen rather than using the creative processes we are born with to figure things out. We are bombarded with subliminal messages through print and digital media that influence our opinion without subtantive reasoning. I grew up hearing the phrase "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" and I wonder sometimes if it isn't the basis for the generation of "unthinkers" that we seeing develop. When we have an entire genertion of those who cannot think for themselves, can you imagine how our world will be changed and dominated by those in power? Scary stuff, isn't it?

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Critical thinking... I know lets punish athletic players (youth) by having them run laps.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you once again, Vinaya! It is a serious concern in this country. I always enjoy getting the perspective of someone in another country.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      Bill, you have covered some brilliant points in your article. I have also observed a wide gap between teaching and learning methods, even though I don't belong to teaching profession.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      HL....whew! You said it all so much better than I can. What really frightens me....it's not the right wing whackos or the religious nuts that you mentioned....it is the everyday, middle of the road working stiffs, who don't seem to care that all of this is going on. I heard someone say once that in the absence of a voice of reason, people will listen to anyone with a bullhorn. They need to be led and they don't much care who is leading them, and they can't distinguish sense from nonsense.

      Enough! I'm going to have a brain clot is I keep going. :)

      Thank you for your passion.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rasta, you make a fine point....the cutting back of the Arts in most school systems has taken away creativity. What we are now raising is a bunch of two-legged parrots who can recite facts and figures but have no idea what they mean, and they have no creative outlet for the other side of their brain. It is a cycle that is getting worse and there is no end in sight.

      Thank you for a great comment.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Not just just critical thinking but creative thinking. imagination is dead and the TV is alive. The system does not allow students to express themselves like a Shakespeare or Thomas Edison. Everything is streamlined and consistent.

    • HLPhoenix profile image

      HLPhoenix 4 years ago

      Letting out a huge sigh of relief... not just that you Billy wrote this vitally important Hub... but that there are so many people out there who understand it and agree with it and worry about it.

      What will our children and grandchildren do... most of them have no idea how to check if something they read or hear is correct or not... they do not have the Critical Thinking Skills to do so. They go with their feelings and then hang on for all they are worth to THAT idea... no matter the evidence presented to them. ImKarn is right about Texas... a local Texas Republican Party... can't remember the District, but it was all over FB in news articles, made it part of their platform that schools NOT teach critical thinking. period.

      As to conspiracy theories... I have never been into them. BUT, I love facts... Years ago I was told I had to read a book... now I am going to aggravate everyone because for the life of me I can remember the name of it... but it was (written 40 or more years ago) by a very religious republican... some how the name Dobson comes to mind... maybe the father of the far right leader Dobson??? Laying out how Religious Republicans could take over not just the Republican Party but the Country as well. They had to start by getting their folk elected to the school boards (and they did) and work their way up the political ladder (and they did)... putting in place folk who would deliberately dumb down education... they felt that proper education was causing people to fall away from religion... that is, being able to think for themselves wasn't working for their particular way of thinking... and that 'they' needed to literally take over the government to get the country BACK... to make it a Theocracy... Not the Founders intent at all... well they made it all the way to the Tea Party take over... and along the way they attacked education from all sides, including getting President Bush... for the first time ever... to break with Constitutional Law and tradition and give money to Churches (and other religious organizations) while cutting back on social service monies... (still at it) trying to get folk to have to go to the religious organizations rather than the government for help. Not to mention 'school vouchers' which seeing that there are hardly any private schools that aren't religious really is aimed at taking those who can afford it out of public school (cause they have made the public schools so bad) and send them to the schools these guys prefer the kids go to... religious schools.

      Without critical thinking America is heading back to the Dark Ages... while the rest of the World, picking up our wonderful Separation Clauses... moves forward... Billy thank you for this. You have given me hope... sharing everywhere.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      dreamseeker, I tend to agree with you. Technology has made kids lazy, and if you could solve problems in the work environment then you did for sure know critical thinking. Thank you for the visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lastheart, it is indeed! Thank you my friend!

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      dreamseeker2 4 years ago

      Good to know. I was taught the old way, but not sure I was all that good at critical thinking, even way back when. Although when in a working environment, I could figure out how to solve or fix a problem if I put my mind to it. I love the old classic literature, by the way. I can't believe it isn't taught now in the schools? How sad is that! Thanks for letting us into your world of teaching and how it has evolved over time. Sadly, I am not surprised by such news. Too much technology has tended to spoil the children of today. Voted up and useful!

    • Lastheart profile image

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 4 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      Well Billy since I retired in December 2012....belove me I know that what you wrote is completely true.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Doc, it's always a pleasure having you stop by. Thank you! I don't know the science of the brain, but I have no doubt that learning to use one set of skills helps us to use another set of skills. The brain is such an intricate machine, all parts working as one. We need critical thinking or else, like you said, we cannot make deductions based on what we have learned.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      FloBe, you gave an excellent example of why critical thinking is so important in everyday life. I remember my dad saying he may not know how to do something but that wasn't going to prevent him from figuring it out. Those skills are generally gone in society today, and I think it is crucial that we get them back.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Eric, I appreciate that. It does take extra time, but I'm all about making a human connection, so the time spent is worth it. :)

    • FloBe profile image

      FloBe 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You have identified a critical issue for people of any age. Too many people in this day have become bobble-head dolls, agreeing with the general opinion because it is too much work to think something through on their own. I am thankful for my disability in that it taught me to problem-solve on a daily basis just to face the challenges of everyday life. It provided a foundation for the rest of my life to be able to think outside the box for solutions. It is a skill needed as we age so that change doesn't become such a fearful hurdle but gives us the ability to perceive it as an adventure to keep learning all that we can from the lessons life brings us. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Billy, my friend. This is something rarely done, because it is a thank you on a thankyou. But you do a great job letting each of us know our comments mean something to you. That is really coolio. Thanks

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      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      A very good hub with good explanations. Critical thinking skills are very important especially when you're reading. Anyone can read for the what, when, where, why and how, but reading critically is all about reading between the lines and making deductions. I can see why it would be easier for your students to learn and memorize dates as opposed to analyzing the Emancipation Proclamation and Civil Rights Act. I don't know which part of the brain is the analytical one, but all I can say is that after so much studying and preparation for the law school entrance exam, it actually boosted my inference skills. Critical skills are needed for pretty much everything in life. Critical thinking skills make you smarter for some reason. It makes you think outside the box.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, I have friends who are surprised I do my own taxes. They can't believe I can wade through the tax forms on my own. It's a matter of following instructions, but that's way beyond some people I know. :) Sad but true my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, we are seeing the filter down effect happening....the kids from twenty years ago are now parents, and now it's snowballing as their kids don't have the same skills....scary comes to mind instantly.

      Thanks my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Leslie, I hadn't heard about Texas but honestly, it doesn't surprise me at all. Why in the world would we want kids that can think for themselves?

      Sheez, here comes that hangover again!

      Speaking of hangovers, that hub will be out tomorrow or Friday....all for you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Always a pleasure, Sha!

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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Without critical thinking, kids cannot think for themselves. They always have to ask someone else. I have also noticed a trend with some adults that know nothing about critical thinking. Gosh, I remember taking an accident report from an adult that had to call her husband to ask his advice on getting her car towed.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I really would prefer you delete this hub. If people really learn how to think for themselves I will have even less work. I believe the lack of do it yourselfism is a major problem in this area. Taxes, minor plumbing, most healthcare, electrical work are perfect examples of what we should do ourselves. Through media brainwashing we are believing that we need to hire someone else to do these things. But what we really need is to accept these challenges, do them and continue learning. A funny thing about that is, that if you have children they will do likewise.

      Great hub Billy, I think I will pray and thank my parents.

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      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Love you too, buddy. Thanx for igniting the light bulb!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 4 years ago

      They are creating a nation of robots that do what they're told and question very little - and discomboobulate when the gray turns black or white!

      it's called a zombie state and i'm sure you see the symptoms everywhere..compliance, conformity, a lack of outrage or action, a lack of individuality, a lack of problem solving, A LACK OF STANDING UP FOR WHAT'S RIGHT!

      In texas recently - there was a bill to erase any and all forms of critical thinking courses from the education system - now - how does that scare ya?

      Critical thinking is such a big word - why don't we just call it what it is: Gathering an array of facts in order to form an intelligent opinion or conclusion - in other words - THINKING FOR ONESELF - and not being led around by the nose like a sheep!

      Can you say baaaaaa?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I will tell people until the day I die that Catholic schools give a superior education. Of course there are a few who don't, but over all they can't be beat, especially compared to their public school counterparts.

      As for your last statement, that is a great insight. I'm telling you, and anyone else who will listen, that we have got an entire generation of kids who cannot problem solve, and I love what you said about their only alternative is to react....and often angrily....and they should be angry. They were cheated out of their education.

      Love you,

      bill

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jaye, I couldn't agree more, and the trend towards homeschooling and alternative education will increase. This is an epidemic in this country and I believe it will get worse before it gets better.

      Thank you as always for sharing your views.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Becky, I don't doubt it at all. There was a time, thirty years ago, when I thought homeschooling was a bad idea. I no longer feel that way; now it is a viable and intelligent alternative.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mark, I always hate to think that is true, but deep down inside of me I know it is. The dumber we are the more of this crap we will accept.

      Thanks buddy, and good job on the fliers.

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      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Bill...The U.S. public school system is on life support and failing fast. So many children who attend public school live in either a single-parent household or both parents work. Either scenario has parents tired in the evenings and doing household chores, so that even helping children with homework gets short shrift. The trend toward homeschooling is growing among those homes that have at least one stay-at-home parent, and will likely continue to do so. This country sets too low a priority on quality education, and the results are scary.

      Jaye

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      Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Very interesting hub. I homeschool my daughter and we have recently been looking for something to teach logic from. She won't do the math word problems. She hates them. I have been teaching her Critical thinking, from my college textbook. She has no problem with literature and just loves to read. She just got done reading a Michener book and enjoyed it immensely. Now to get it summarized into a book report. I gave her a blueprint for book reports that I found on the web and she thinks most of it is nonsense but she is going to humor me. She is probably better read than most adults and she is just 15. I also homeschooled my sons and they decided to take GED's. They both passed in the upper 10% of the country.

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      Mark G Weller 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      Excellent points Bill, I could not agree more. I also agree with Liz, that there is a broad and insidious current of "Dumbing Down" that has been perpetrated by the powers in this country.

      Mark

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Melissa, you make a great point. Yes, the emphasis completely shifted to test-based education in the late 80's if I'm not mistaken....it of course has taken some time to reach its current stranglehold. :) So yes, we are seeing a generation of parents who have no clue what good education looks like.....and that is very sad.

      Thanks as always my Minnesota friend!

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      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, I can so relate to this article on two levels. This first is private vs public education. I attended Catholic School from 3rd thru 8th grade. I don't care what anyone says about Catholic School - it provides a superior education over public. At least it did in my day. I was a straight A student (I was the odd one who loved written homework!). Just before I was to enter high school we moved from Philly to Jersey and I was enrolled in the local public high school. The teachers were amazed that I knew how to diagram sentences, which they were just beginning to teach. I'd been doing it for 2 years! When I became a sophomore, Geometry was the area of math taught. Again, the teachers were amazed! I'd been doing geometry since 6th grade, although in Catholic School it was called 'New Math'. I graduated high school in 1975 at the top 10% of my class of 300 (with honors) without even trying because I'd already learned what they were just beginning to teach! All I learned in public high school was how to show up for homeroom so as not to be counted as absent, then leave for a few periods to get stoned! And I still graduated with honors! What does that tell you??

      The second point I'd like to make has kind of a cute story behind it, but after reading this hub I see it in a different light. From the day my son was born, until he was well into grade school, I read to him daily. One of Christopher's favorite books when he was about a year old was, "What Makes Fred Say Yabbadabbadoo?". The book had a button in the middle of it that you would poke every time the words, yabbadabbadoo appeared and you'd hear Fred Flintstone speak is famous words of joy. Well, one day, when Christopher was old enough to talk, I asked him at the end of the story to tell me what makes Fred say yabbadabbadoo. (In the book, happy things like Dino greeting him at the door and Wilma making his favorite brontasaurus burger, etc. were what prompted him to make his famous exclamation). Christopher proudly answered, "The button!" To this day I laugh about it and I'll never forget that day. I did, however, rephrase the question to ask Christopher what makes him say yabbadabbadoo, in an effort to test his comprehension skills. I guess he was just too young, because again, it was the button!

      After reading your article, I see that those interactive books don't teach the children to think at all; they teach them to react! And now I think I know why today's youth is so ornery and misguided; they've not been taught to think, therefore their only instinctive action is to react!

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      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      So do you think this mind-set shift in education came about due to the "No Child Left Behind" policies? That was where the standardized testing and school funding based on results of these tests, became the norm, right? How many years would you say that has been going on? I just ask because if a lot of kids grew up with this type of education and now have children of their own....it might be difficult for them to teach critical thinking skills to their own kids.

      Excellent and thought-provoking hub, as usual!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, that is as scary a thing as any I have read in quite some time...the superintendent said that? Oh God help us...too much to learn? Has there been new knowledge invented since we were in school? Give me a break!!!!

      I would love to chat with that person.

      Thanks, Mary, and have a great day!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Liz....you, a conspiracy freak? Hard to believe! :) Listen, I have no faith in the government. I have no faith in corporations. I have no faith in religion. Do I think any of them have my welfare in mind? Not a chance. What we have is a new generation of sheep willing to do anything they are told, and it's going to come back and bite them in the ass, sooner rather than later.

      I'll take a look at the video; thanks, Liz!

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      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Oh Billy you've picked a good one! Our students today are being left in the lurch. Teaching to the test is killing education. There is no time left in a teacher's schedule to actually teach any kind of thinking skills...they have to cover what will be on the test and nothing else...no time.

      When I argued the case (as you did) about computers, I was told there is too much to learn and rather than burden children with remembering facts that are at their fingertips, it is better to use the computer...and that from a superintendent of schools!

      Whoa is education, but more importantly whoa are we who will live in a world of students educated without an education.

      Voted all the way across except funny. Shared too.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dream On....anyone who uses a baseball analogy is okay in my book! :) You are right of course; I saw it change greatly over the thirty year span that I was teaching....anything remotely difficult is not done...anything outside of rote learning is too hard...blah, blah, blah! I think this better turn around soon or we will have millions of Americans incapable of problem-solving.

      Thank you my new friend; greatly appreciated.

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      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      DUDE! This is a favorite subject of mine. I'm a conspiracy freak, so I believe that society encourages submission without question in order to keep people under control. This also helps to make sales--look at the food industry and conventional nutrition advice! It doesn't make sense. The things that we've been eating since we've been walking on two legs (and before) are unhealthy, but those processed boxes of junk will make you live forever! Everyone is getting sicker and they're still buying into it. Politics and religion demand acceptance of certain views that are to be defended without question. Kids are raised in this environment, and unless we consciously guide them in thinking outside the box, they'll be followers, too. Unfortunately, many parents lack critical thinking skills as well. Bah!

      There's a great presentation by Tom Naughton that illustrates this point: Science for Smart People http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1RXvBveht0

      Love,

      #2

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      DREAM ON 4 years ago

      I loved your hub.The information you have presented and the arguments you explain and discuss make my stomach curl.I was not a great student in high school or college but I hung in there and searched for answers.I didn't have Google at my fingertips.I made many mistakes over the years and corrected many more.I have seen the errors in my ways.I relate high school students to sports like baseball.It's the top of the eighth inning when the pressure is on and we are down five runs and no outs .I get up and go to bat and swing every time.Hoping that one base hit will change the game and start the momentum going in our favor.Soon the next batter gets up and hits a double and that puts the player in scoring position.Then with a little luck and laziness of the other team we can score some runs and win the game.If you brought the same scenario up to kids today they would say game over tomorrow is another day.They are so easy to quit and give up.To many runs to come back from in only 8 outs.Their attitude changes and they are pessimistic and have know guts..They don't know the meaning of I will hang in there and anything can and will happen.There are so many reasons for the game to change at any instant.Maybe their pitcher will get injured and the relief pitcher we can hit better from.I just don't get it.I have so many more thoughts on this subject and will try to explain later.Great hub and you got me thinking like a student all over again.Thanks so much.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michele, this is our future, and it is a dire sight indeed. Hopefully someone will wake up in the near future and turn this all around.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Russ! I really hate to be right on this subject, because there are a lot of kids receiving a horrible education right now.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, you are right...the damage has been done....and I think we will continue to pay the price for this ignorance for decades to come. Thank you for adding to the conversation and giving us the UK perspective.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, I wish I had been everyone's teacher. LOL I'm serious about this....we have to change the entire educational system. What are the chances of that happening? Sigh!

      Thank you my dear friend.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Beckie....LOL....I like that title....that may be a hub shortly. :) I can't pass that up; my pit bull nature won't allow it.

      Seriously, if the education system doesn't start seeing the error of their ways we are going to have generation after generation of ignorance and kids unable to solve problems, and that is a scary thought.

      Thank you my dear; hope you are having a great day.

      love,

      billy

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      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Your anecdote about teaching literature to middle school kids, only to receive complaints from the high school is very telling. Kids do need to think critically, whether through formal science or great literature. Well done thoughtful hub, Bill.

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      Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      You are so correct. Now the students can do their homework online. Just look up the answers, write them down and forget them. Why do they have to remember them? This is sad, very sad.

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Billy, great article, here in the UK the politicians are talking about going back to basics, but the damage is done. There are generations of students who have been let down by the education system, and sadly, this is very obvious in all sector of our society, including our esteem leaders.

      Michelle, for home work; the modern students only need to go to google for answers, or to find someone who is only to happy to do the work for a price.

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      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      teaching kids with critical thinking makes a total difference in how they respond as they age. learning something and memorizing leads to a lazy thinking situation. I wish you had been my teacher when going to school. well done as always.

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      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Billy,

      After reading this hub I am made aware of the valuable guidance I received during my years of education.

      Critical thinking allows an individual intellectual skills for analysis, observation, optimal thought processes and beneficial problem solving techniques. It also allows someone a resource for getting their point across in a constructive manner. When all parties practice and implement this skill, bullying, unwarranted pressure and personal attacks of differing opinionated individuals falls to the wayside.

      Voting this up and sharing.

      Although, I imagine those that should read this won't. Not unless you include a title such as "You are wrong and I am right."

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, I have no doubt that you understand this hub...better than most. I'll tell you what....if I had a child now I would seriously consider home-schooling as an alternative......but then my kid would probably drive me nuts. Actually, I taught my son for three years in middle school, and that was very hard.

      I detoured....LOL....thank you Janine!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Randi, I would have loved to have heard your comment. Thanks for stopping by my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Taze, I would say great cartoon but it is all too real. I'm done with teaching now but I am really saddened and frustrated by the direction of this education system. Going nowhere fast!

      Thanks my friend!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, that saddens me to hear that...I had hoped that it would be better over there. Sigh!

      Thank you!

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      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Oh, there is so much to say on this topic, but, alas, not enough time :( Thank you for bringing up such important points. Up+ and sharing!

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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Having been a teacher in the last decade, I can clearly say you are 100% correct Bill. It is just so sad what has happened to our teaching system and what has become valued and important as far as education is concerned. Teaching for the test is not the answer and yet this is the current push and thinking. I wish someone in the know would sit-in regular classes to see how badly this idea is truly fairing. Thanks seriously for writing about this and can tell you my kids will be learning from me as much as possible as far as critical thinking is concerned, because I have disillusions as far as what they will or won't be getting from public school education nowadays. I will certainly be filling in those major gaps. Have of course voted way up and shared as always, too!!

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      Banned cause of pissants promisem and deantraylor 4 years ago from TWO OF THE MANY LYING LIB CRYBABIES OF HUB PAGES

      Great points made in this hub Billy buc. Sadly the direction education has taken over the last 50 years has made the word itself an oxymoron if that were possible. Today education is more aptly described as indoctrination - this cartoon says it all: http://s3.hubimg.com/u/7555350_f260.jpg

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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I'd have to agree with both you and Fr. O Malley. Critical thinking is such an important skill. You'll balk at how spoon fed pupils in Sing are.....they practically expect you to do their homework for them!! Great reminder.