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  1. #41
    Blah Orangey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    Ah well, you tried. That's all we can do, really... That and hope that we wouldn't do the same thing if we ended up in tenured positions (very unlikely for me) in the future. The guy who runs the class that I teach is pretty annoyingly pedantic too. I've stopped arguing with him and just run the class as I think it should be conducted. What he doesn't know won't kill him, and the most important thing is that the kids are treated fairly and get as much as possible out of class.
    Yeah, I actually canceled my classes without telling him once. It's not that I was trying to be unprofessional, but he insisted that we (me and the other TA) hold classes on the day of the G20 summit. Now, I don't know how much you have heard about it, but the whole G20 thing ended up being an absolute disaster, and it really wasn't safe for anyone to be out and about on campus that day. In fact, one of my students got tear-gassed in the hallway connecting two of the dormitory towers anyway.

    But this is getting off topic. The point is that this particular prof for some reason does not understand the concept of seeing past the rules, and this was yet another manifestation of that mindset. He would not have canceled class unless absolutely required by the university.

    And the weird thing is that he is a young assistant professor, not some old guy stuck in his ways. This makes me think that perhaps his attitude is a product of having gone through the process of getting tenure today. Maybe it turns you into a pedant (or maybe it is set up so that mostly people like him make it through, while the more laid-back among us are filtered out).
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  2. #42
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    If you've asked the class to give a summary of something and fail them for doing exactly what you've told them to, I'd imagine that there'd be a huge ruckus.
    That would not be an activity of failing a student for doing exactly what they were assigned. They were assigned to do two things. 1. Summarize 2. Critique. Lets say that each part is worth 50% of the grade. If they summarize without critiquing, the highest grade they can receive is 50% which is insufficient to pass.



    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    Moreover, people would just google something semi-related and shove it in regardless of how tenuous the relationship is to the source material.
    They shouldn't get credit for that unless they have an explanation with regard to how what they said is related to the course material. If they copy and paste from google, they should be flunked for plagiarism. For the very least, they would have to reword what they googled. This may not force the students to do original thought.

    Here is how you fix it: hold an in-class exam where they have to answer an essay question. This question must be one that is relevant to the curriculum but one that they have not yet heard of nor had a chance to look up on google. Make this part of the test worth 50% of the exam. That way students who cannot produce anything original will fail.


    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    How would there be grade differentiation based on that?.
    The same way as with any grading agenda. Critical/creative thinking will be worth 50 percent of the grade and there is nothing subjective about what critical/creative thought is. It is defined as something very simple, namely something that is not a paraphrase of what has been covered in the in-class text.


    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    It may very well be that it can distinguish the top students from the run-of-the-mill students, but it would be virtually impossible to distinguish between a B student, a C student and a D student. .
    I don't see why not as because critical thinking will be such a big part of the grade, students who do show the ability to think for themselves will get significantly higher grades than those who do not. So, those who can't think will get a C- if they are lucky, those who can think will get As and Bs.




    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    Moreover, this method of judging critical thinking is incredibly subjective. .
    How? There is nothing whimsical about it. It is simply a fact that I can make a statement about our discussion that is a paraphrase of what has already been said and I can also make a statement that is original. The two should not be hard to distinguish from one another and doing so does not require any skills that are specific to a certain individual or a group. Such distinctions can be easily seen by any scholar with highly developed reasoning and reading comprehension skills. Most people who hold PhDs do have such skills.


    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    Going by a rigid marking scheme, I already have students coming up to me to quibble about an extra mark or two. What do you think will happen if this highly subjective scheme was implemented?.
    We can have a rigid marking scheme that includes critical and creative thought. The system would be subjective if I did not clearly define what creative/critical thought is or did not explain the rubric which we are going to use to grade students. The case, however, is far from such.


    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    Again, it's not about logical fallacies. It's about what works in practice. .
    A good theory is one that works in practice. That is the whole point of laboratory experiments that we use to test our hypotheses. If your thought experiment contains logical fallacies it likely will be internally incoherent and for this reason will fail the test of empirical investigation.


    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    How do you decide which principles are unquestionable and which are not?.
    The principles that are unquestionable are those that need to be in place in order to keep some order in the educational program. We'd need to have as few of those as possible.



    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    If you are to teach people to think critically, how can you tell them what to think critically about and what to accept unquestioningly?
    We can't, the best we can do is limit the number of principles that they are not allowed to question.


    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    That is the underlying hypocrisy in the education system, and is precisely what the current system is attempting to do. It's simply that your personal standards of "thinking critically" do not fit the education board's.
    Minimize the hypocrisy as much as possible by reducing the number of unquestionable principles. This is to be accomplished by making critical thinking/creativity a greater part of the grading agenda.



    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    Yes, that is what most teachers try to do, to certain extents. But again, it's nice in theory, difficult in practice. It is usually much easier to lean on the conservative, more objective side and mark according to the standard. That does not leave you open to accusations of bias. As teachers, we seek to transmit knowledge, perspectives and help students to think for themselves. Unfortunately, we also have the role of ranking them so that they have a grade that they deserve... and students have the attitude of "I paid for this degree, therefore I should leave school with an A". As such, many of them haggle over every single mark, even if they are undeserving of it. By making the standards more subjective, you are leaving yourself open to this. At the same time, school standards will no longer be as well defined. It will be dependent highly on the personal standards and requirements of individual teachers. So students will not know what they'll be getting out of classes. How do you propose we solve these problems?
    You seem to be making an illegitimate connection between the following ideas.

    1. Introducing critical/creative thought into the grading agenda
    2. Making the grading agenda subjective, poorly defined or plain whimsical.

    I do not see any reason why critical/creative thinking cannot be clearly and consistently defined. We will just pick one definition of this term and stick to it. If we display consistency in doing so there should not be any room for subjectivity or fiat. This system would be every bit as rigid as the one that is currently implemented by the conventional instructors today. The only difference is that the rigidity of this system won't stultify the progress of students who endeavor to think in a critical and a creative manner.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  3. #43
    Emerging Tallulah's Avatar
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    I would love to see more students thinking critically. I try to teach it in my comp classes. Most students at freshman level, though, to my chagrin, don't seem to even have the skills to summarize (many of them will simply give their own opinion on the article, or they'll just try and lift a few sentences straight from the text itself). I'd say out of 25 students, maybe five have critical thinking skills at that level. And that's kind of a generous estimate, too.

    It seems to me that the sort of educational environment you're suggesting could potentially turn the university into an elitist institution. If you already possess the skills, welcome. If you don't, you'll flunk out freshman year, and will need to find a trade school or something. A lot of that critical thinking ability will have depended not only innate intelligence, but the quality of high school the student attended. Thoughts?
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    There are reasons why a businessman would want the general population's critical thinking skills to improve. Smarter people = smarter labor. These people make the work environment more productive. People who are able to do difficult jobs that requires critical thinking get paid more because there are so few of them out there. Simple supply and demand. I want to be able to pay less for rocket scientists to work for me.

    At the same time these same people can believe that they can run a company better then me and start a company of their own. I would be more afraid of potential rivals then me able to continue the "exploit" of people to do not so smart jobs.

    I hate this word "exploit". It sound like it came straight out of Marxism. Robots have not taken over every mindless job yet. We still need people to do mindless work. Those people's bosses are not the only ones benefiting from this. Those people are feeding themselves and their family. I hardly call that an "exploit".

  5. #45
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallulah View Post
    I would love to see more students thinking critically. I try to teach it in my comp classes. Most students at freshman level, though, to my chagrin, don't seem to even have the skills to summarize (many of them will simply give their own opinion on the article, or they'll just try and lift a few sentences straight from the text itself). I'd say out of 25 students, maybe five have critical thinking skills at that level. And that's kind of a generous estimate, too.

    It seems to me that the sort of educational environment you're suggesting could potentially turn the university into an elitist institution. If you already possess the skills, welcome. If you don't, you'll flunk out freshman year, and will need to find a trade school or something. A lot of that critical thinking ability will have depended not only innate intelligence, but the quality of high school the student attended. Thoughts?
    I agree with the suggestion that a person becomes a critical thinker not only by virtue of his natural abilities but also by virtue of his education. Hence, it is wise for us to offer them an opportunity to become critical thinkers by refraining from expelling them from the university because they lack critical thinking skills. After all, if we do not expel them, such people may develop the critical thinking skills as they progress in their education.

    You may note that I earlier mentioned that we need to create another institution that will be dedicated to higher learning only. In that institution subjects of math, the sciences and philosophy will be taught exclusively and the students will be expected to display critical and creative thought. Conventional students will remain in institutions that are today regarded as universities. Once they prove that they are able to think on their own and with creativity, they may transfer to the institution of higher learning.

    By accomplishing this feat, we will allow conventional students to get their degrees to serve the purpose of their choice and grant students who wish to develop critical thinking skills an appropriate venue to do this in.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  6. #46
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    ^ I'm not going to address what you said point-by-point because while reading it through, my general thoughts were "is he serious?" and "what delusion is he living?". Again, I'd like to ask how much teaching experience you have (a question that you didn't answer). That is completely unworkable. Failing students out because they don't want/can't think on their own? I'd like to find people who would want to go to a school that would do that. In fact, I'd be really impressed with the ego size of the people who applied to such a school.

    I'll just link you to this thread: http://www.typologycentral.com/forum...losophies.html

    To show you what most college students think. You're stuck in an unrealistic la-la land.

    Graduate schools are supposed to teach people "how to think" so that they can fit into an academic environment. Of course, it doesn't really do that and what we get out of it is a completely different thing. Most people who make it ALREADY can think on their own (those who don't are mediocre, fail out or give up). Still, that is the stated aim. Most students will not get to the graduate level so the undergrad level can act as a means of weeding out those who aren't keen, motivated or curious enough. It's superfluous setting up a separate institution.

  7. #47
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    I'd like to ask how much teaching experience you've had. If you've asked the class to give a summary of something and fail them for doing exactly what you've told them to, I'd imagine that there'd be a huge ruckus. Moreover, people would just google something semi-related and shove it in regardless of how tenuous the relationship is to the source material. How would there be grade differentiation based on that?
    Ahah, sorry but this is an attitude I hate. In 3 years I've been accused 3 times of "copying material" from "unspecified sources on the internet" (the professor didn't check if there was something similar on the net, he just told me this after glancing at the paper) because my paper was "too well written" and "I had used LaTeX without people telling me to do so". Each time this stuff happened my first thought was to leave university altoghether and go live under a bridge. Supposing that "everybody cheats" can be really discouraging for students.
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  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    Ahah, sorry but this is an attitude I hate. In 3 years I've been accused 3 times of "copying material" from "unspecified sources on the internet" (the professor didn't check if there was something similar on the net, he just told me this after glancing at the paper) because my paper was "too well written" and "I had used LaTeX without people telling me to do so". Each time this stuff happened my first thought was to leave university altoghether and go live under a bridge. Supposing that "everybody cheats" can be really discouraging for students.
    By that I meant that it's obviously copied, i.e. you can find exactly (or nearly exactly) the same wording on wikipedia. I've found that in the past. You might not do it, but I've seen many students do it. I generally get suspicious when the tone of that one seemingly-unrelated statement is completely different from the rest/quality of the essay. Once I get a handle on the general quality of the student, I know what to expect and what is "strange".

    *edited to add: My standards seriously get lower every year. So does my faith in humanity, seeing the students who come through and what they think is "ok" to do.

  9. #49
    Alexander the Terrible yenom's Avatar
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    Good post, SW.

    I agree that people that excel in education are often not the most intelligent people around. Therefore the educational system is inherently flawed because it is heavily based on conformity, obedience and work ethic, rather than on intelligence and creativity.

    However, high performance in school does not necessarily determine your place in society's hierarchy. Of course if you graduated from, an Ivy League school, your chances of landing on a high earning job is much higer than a someone who hasn't. But there are many anvenues to succeed even if you did disatrously in school. But your point that people with high grades in school are more likely to be hired than one with low grades did have its sense, and if you lack a college degree, your chances of finding a meaningful job is significantly harder.

    Nevertheless one of the educational system's flaws is its failure in teaching us how to survive in capitalist society, where everything is driven by money.
    It could be as you said, a conspiracy to keep the population ignorant and allow profits to gp tpo a majority of capitalists.
    The fear of poverty turns people into slaves of money.

    "In this Caesar there are many Mariuses"~Sulla

    Conquer your inner demons first before you conquer the world.

  10. #50
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    ^ I'm not going to address what you said point-by-point because while reading it through, my general thoughts were "is he serious?" and "what delusion is he living?". Again, I'd like to ask how much teaching experience you have (a question that you didn't answer). That is completely unworkable. Failing students out because they don't want/can't think on their own? I'd like to find people who would want to go to a school that would do that. In fact, I'd be really impressed with the ego size of the people who applied to such a school.

    I'll just link you to this thread: http://www.typologycentral.com/forum...losophies.html

    To show you what most college students think. You're stuck in an unrealistic la-la land.

    Graduate schools are supposed to teach people "how to think" so that they can fit into an academic environment. Of course, it doesn't really do that and what we get out of it is a completely different thing. Most people who make it ALREADY can think on their own (those who don't are mediocre, fail out or give up). Still, that is the stated aim. Most students will not get to the graduate level so the undergrad level can act as a means of weeding out those who aren't keen, motivated or curious enough. It's superfluous setting up a separate institution.

    Calm down. Before you fly off the handle again and accuse me of living an illusion, read my post again very carefully. Pay close attention to my last response to Tallulah. There I state that we may keep the current University as it is and create another institution that serves the purpose of higher learning. Indeed there we will pick the cream of the crop. Over ninety percent of the student body will consist of devoted autodidacts who have a great interest in learning and outstanding students of conventional schools who exceeded the expectations of a typical university by not only getting high grades but also by learning to think critically and creatively.

    I agree that most students will not want anything to do with an institution that fails every person who cannot think in a critical or a creative manner. Such an educational program cannot survive as an independent business, therefore it is necessary for the school in question to receive grants from the government.

    The principle that I espouse, namely that certain schools should receive grants from the government is a step towards undermining the current cultural and educational system that is the source of the main problem regarding contemporary schooling.

    If you read my OP carefully again you will see that I denounced the cultural values of the United States on the account that we regard procuring financial profit as too important. One profound reason why we do this is because the government makes very few interventions and most institutions know that if they can count only on themselves to make money. Our university is one of such institutions and that is why it offers services that the public will be willing to pay for. In other words, the University offers the kind of training that does not focus greatly on critical thinking and creativity because if it did that, it would simply go out of business.

    In recapitulation, we will get grants from the government and create a school for students who major in the following subjects; mathematics, the natural sciences, the social sciences and philosophy. These are all serious academic subjects and if people want to study them they must think critically and creatively. At the same time, we will keep the conventional universities open to all students, however, they will offer only technical or what one may call practical subjects as options of specialization for students. If a student wishes to be a mathematician, a philosopher or a scientist yet lacks critical thinking skills and is unable to develop them on his own, he is free to take classes with regard to those subjects at a conventional university despite the fact that he cannot specialize in them until he transfers to the institution of intense learning.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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