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Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking

Critical Thinking? If you know what it is, it can be taught

A new study says critical thinking is a teachable skill, but who is going to teach it? (very funny: like training experimental mind)

Whether or not you can teach something as subjective as critical thinking has been up for debate, but a fascinating new study shows that it’s actually quite possible.

Experiments performed by Stanford’s Department of Physics and Graduate School of Education demonstrate that students can be instructed to think more critically. (You mean with an experimental mind?)

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of critical-thinking skills in modern society. The ability to decipher information and interpret it, offering creative solutions, is in direct relation to our intellect. (How that can be taught before you lean how to design, control and run an experiment?)

The most important skill you’ll ever learn?

bigthink.com|By Lori Chandler
The study took two groups of students in an introductory physics laboratory course, with one group (known as the experimental group) given the instruction to use quantitative comparisons between datasets and the other group given no instruction (the control group).
Comparing data in a scientific manner; that is, being able to measure one’s observations in a statistical or mathematical way, led to interesting results for the experimental group.
Even after these instructions were removed, they were 12 times more likely to offer creative solutions to improve the experimental methods being used in the class, four times more likely to explain the limitations of the methods, and better at explaining their reasoning than the control group.
(If this one session extended so much improvement, why graduates in natural science and engineering have Not Design of experiment in their program? Students in social sciences are by far more advanced in critical thinking because they learn and are trained to design expriments)
The results remained consistent even in the next year, with students in a different class. So what does this imply about critical thinking, and how can we utilize these findings to improve ourselves and our society?

We live in an age with unprecedented access to information. Whether you are contributing to an entry on Wikipedia or reading a meme that has no sources cited (do they ever?), your ability to comprehend what you are reading and weigh it is a constant and consistent need.

That is why it is so imperative that we have sharp critical-thinking skills. Also, if you don’t use them, you will have nothing to argue with your family about at Thanksgiving.

More importantly, it keeps your brain from nomming on junk food and on more of a kale-based diet. Look at any trending topic, and test yourself.

Is this true/accurate?

How do I know either way?

Is there a way I can use data (provable, factual information) to figure this out?

Certainly, we can train ourselves to become better critical thinkers, but it’s also important that we teach these skills to kids.

Studies have shown how important this ability is to our success, and yet many feel that we’re doing a terrible job of teaching it.

This study, however, may lead to educators and parents realizing that these skills are teachable. The implications of a better thinking society are not quantitative, but I do believe they would be extraordinary.

 

Raising Kids During Exponential Times

How do you raise kids today during these exponential times?

Should they learn a second language… in a world of instant translation?

Should they ever memorize any fact… in a world of ubiquitous Google?

Will college even exist in 10 years’ time?

Which is more important? Learning to code or learning sports?

As a father of twin 4-year-old boys, these questions are on my mind. (My wife may have a different point of view as an artist).

This blog is one parent’s opinion.

When I was 10 years old…

When I was 10 years old, the first electronic calculators came out, and my dad didn’t want to buy me one because he felt it would weaken my math skills.

Eventually he did buy me one, and rather than dampen my skills, I learned programming on my Texas Instruments TI-58.

But times do change.

Compared to the basic curriculum 100 years ago, the basics no longer include:

  • Growing our own food
  • Making our own clothing… needlework
  • Greek, Latin or type setting

If predictions come true, namely that robotics and artificial intelligence will displace 50 percent of today’s jobs in 20 years’ time, what should your kid(s) study today?

I often keynote Fortune 500 events and one persistent question from the audience is: “So, Peter, what will you teach your kids given this explosion of exponential technologies?”

Near-Term… Coding, machine learning, or Physics

In the near term (this next decade) the lingua franca is coding and machine learning. Any kid graduating college with these skills today can get a job.

But this too, will be disrupted in the near future by A.I.

Long-Term… It’s Passion, Curiosity, Imagination, Critical Thinking, and Grit

I imagine a future in which robotics and A.I. will allow any of us, from ages 18 to 108, to easily and quickly find answers, create products and accomplish tasks, all simply by expressing our desires.

From “mind to manufactured in moments” – in short, we’ll be able to do and create almost whatever we want.

In such a future, I believe there are five critical attributes our children need to learn to become successful in their adult life:

1. PASSION: You’d be amazed at how many people don’t have a mission in life. A calling, something to jolt them out of bed every morning.

For my kids, I want to support them in finding their passion or purpose. Something uniquely theirs.

For me, it was exploring outer space. I LOVE space. Apollo and Star Trek ignited my flames. As much as my parents wanted me to become a physician, I was truly (and still am) a space cadet.

My goal for my 4-year-olds is to expose them to as many ideas as I can, and then fan the flames on whatever they want to do.

(One of my closest friends loved playing video games in high school. Today he’s one of the world’s top video game designers. You can create a career from any passion!)

2. CURIOSITY: The next attribute that is critical during exponential times is curiosity. It is something that is innate in kids and yet something that most people lose over time.

In a world of Google, robots and A.I., raising a kid that is constantly asking questions and running “what if” experiments can be extremely valuable.

This is mostly because running constant experiments is fundamentally necessary on the path to success.

As Jeff Bezos said about success and innovation: “The way I think about it, if you want to invent, if you want to do any innovation, anything new, you’re going to have failures because you need to experiment. I think the amount of useful invention you do is directly proportional to the number of experiments you can run per week per month per year.”

I constantly ask my kids “what if” questions.

And if they ask, “What if…?” encourage them. Help paint the picture…

And try to help them create an experiment to test that hypothetical situation.

3. IMAGINATION: Entrepreneurs and visionaries imagine the world (and the future) they want to live in, and then they create it. Kids happen to be some of the most imaginative humans around… it is critical that they know how important and liberating imagination can be.

Imagination goes hand in hand with curiosity and passion.

Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group, writes: “Imagination is one of humanity’s greatest qualities – without it, there would be no innovation, advancement or technology, and the world would be a very dull place.”

To my kids, the world is certainly not a dull place.

4. CRITICAL THINKING: In a world flooded with often-conflicting ideas, baseless claims, misleading headlines, negative news and misinformation, you have to think critically to find the signal in the noise.

Critical thinking is probably the hardest lesson to teach kids.

It takes time and experience, and you have to reinforce habits like investigation, curiosity, skepticism, and so on.

If you have ever talked to four-year-olds, you’re probably familiar with the “Why?” game.

It goes something like this:

Parent (enthusiastically): “It’s time to go to school!”

Kid: “Why?”

Parent: “Because you have to learn how to read and do math.”

Kid: “Why?”

Parent: “Because knowing how to read and do math is important.”

Kid: “Why?”

Parent (starts to get agitated): “Because… I said so!”

Kid: “Why?”

You get the idea.

My advice: Try not to BS them! Try to play this game and help them reason through complicated ideas and topics.

This game, though they don’t even know it, is the basis for critical thinking, and it’s up to you as a parent to encourage them and guide them through the questions.

5. GRIT: One of my favorite phrases these days is from Ray Kurzweil: “You’ve just got to live long enough to live forever.”

Though I take it quite literally, it’s also a metaphor for persisting through challenges until you succeed.

Grit is seen as “passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals,” and it has recently been widely acknowledged as one of the most important predictors of and contributors to success.

Teaching your kids that they can’t fail… is critical.

Heck, much of my success comes from not giving up. I joke that both XPRIZE and Zero-G were both “overnight successes after 10 years of hard work.”

You have to make a conscious effort to encourage your kids to keep trying, even if they mess up.

Join Me

Our kids are growing up in the most exciting time ever. You’re living in it too.

This is the sort of conversation we discuss at my 250-person executive mastermind group called Abundance 360.

The program is highly selective and we’re almost full, looking for a few last CEOs and entrepreneurs who want to change the world. You can apply here.

Share this email with your friends, especially if they are interested in any of the areas outlined above.

P.S. I’ve just released a podcast with my dear friend Dan Sullivan called Exponential Wisdom.

Our conversations focus on the exponential technologies creating abundance, the human-technology collaboration, and entrepreneurship. Head here to listen and subscribe: a360.com/podcast

P.P.S. Every weekend I send out a “Tech Blog” like this one. If you want to sign up, go to PeterDiamandis.com and sign up for this and my Abundance blogs.

Patsy Z shared this link on July 22, 2015

For all parents out there. Please read this blog post written by Peter H. Diamandis himself, as a visionary man and as a father…
It’s extremely helpful, especially when you think about the eternal question:

“what will you teach your kids given this explosion of exponential technologies?”

How do you raise kids today during these exponential times?
Should they learn a second language… in a world of instant translation?
Should they ever memorize any fact… in a world of ubiquitous…
peterdiamandis.tumblr.com

Article 33

 “How to tell long and good stories from human factors graphs?”

If we concentrate on a graph we might generate a long story that span many disciplines and furnish us with a wealth of information and knowledge that pages of words cannot convey. A graph might open the gate for dozen of questions that are the foundation of scientific, experimental, and critical thinking.  Suppose that we are comparing the efficiency in energy consumption between walking bare feet or wearing shoes that weight 1.3 Kg.  Considering the walking speed as the other independent variable along with the type and weight of shoes then we observe that the curves show that we are consuming less energy at low speed, then both curves decreasing to a minimum consumption of 0.2 KJ/Nm and intersecting at around 80 meter/min and then increasing as walking speed increases.

This graph is telling us that casual walking consumes less energy per unit walking effort than fast walking and that at a cut off speed of 80 meter/min the energy consumption is equal for both foot wares.  Some people might jump to the conclusion that this cut-off speed can be generalized to all foot wears but more experiments are necessarily needed to verify this initial hypothesis.  Another piece of information is that after the cut-off speed it is more economical energy wise to walk barefoot. Basically, this graph is saying that the more weight you add to your lower limbs the more energy you should expect to spend, a fact that is not an earth shattering observation. Biomechanics tells us that the structure of our body is not geared toward saving on our muscular effort but to increasing our range and speed of movements.  Most of our muscles are connected to the bones of our limbs and their respective joints in manners they have to exert great effort and many fold the weight of our body members to overcome any of our limb’s mass.  Usually, the tendons of our muscles are inserted to the limb bones close to the joints and thus the muscles have to exert a huge effort to overcome the moment of the bone and flesh weight in order to effect a movement. Any extra mass to our limbs will tax our muscles to produce many folds the additional weight.

There is a caveat however; if you wrapped a weight of 1.3 kg around your ankles and walked bare feet you would consume more energy than without the added weight but the curve would be parallel to the previous curve and not increasing more steeply than walking with shoes weighting 1.3 Kg.  Consequently, the variation in the behavior of the graphs result from a combination of added weight and lesser static coefficient of friction exerted by the shoes on the walking surface than the bare foot..

Thus, what this graph does not mention is the static coefficient of friction between the footwear and the ground and which is the most important variable and in this case can concatenate many independent and control variables such as the materials of the footwear and the type of ground into a unique independent variable of coefficient of friction.  The higher the coefficient of friction the easier it is to move and progress and thus walking faster for the same amount of effort invested.  It is not that important to generate muscle force if the reaction force on the surface cannot be produced to move a person in the right direction; for example, it is extremely difficult to move on slippery surfaces no matter how much muscular effort we generate.  Apparently, the shape and skin texture of our foot provide a better and more efficient coefficient of friction than many foot wears.

However, the most important fact of this simple experiment is showing us the behavior of the curves and offering additional hypotheses for other studies.

What this graph is not telling us is the best story of all and which can excite the mind into further investigation. For example, what kind of earth materials are we walking on; sands, asphalt, rough terrains, slippery roads or grassy fields?  Does the sample of bare feet walkers include aboriginals used in walking bare feet, city dwellers, and people from the province?  Does the sample groups people according to the softness of their feet skins or the size of feet?

May be the shape of the curves are the same for females as well but it would be curious to find out the magnitude of variations compared to males.  It is clear that a simple and lousy graph delved us into the problems of experimentation and raised enough questions to attend to various fields of knowledge.

In the final analysis, the question is how relevant is this experiment practically?  How far can a modern man walk bare feet?  Does any economy in energy compensate for the ache, pain and injuries suffered by walking bare feet?  Would athletes be allowed to compete bare feet if it is proven to increase performance and break new records?  Does anyone care of walking barefoot in order to save a few kilo Joules?

The theme of this article is that you can venture into many fields of knowledge just by focusing your attention on graphs and tables and permitting your mind to navigate into uncharted waters through queries and critical thinking.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

January 2021
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