Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thinking Is Dangerous!

I'm always searching for writing exercises, writing prompts, blogging ideas and any activities to stimulate that muse.  Today, I happened across a quote from John Dewey:

"Anyone who has begun to think, places some portion of the world in jeopardy.” 

This is so relevant today.  There probably isn't a day now that you don't find some report of dissent being squelched somewhere around the world.  You also can find numerous reports of people rebuffed or ridiculed for asking questions.  Isn't it usually the result of "thinking" that stirs folks to dissent or ask questions?

Unfortunately, it seems as though critical thinking is not emphasized in education as it once was.  If there's anything we need, it would be MORE critical thinking.  We need students to be able to eventually take their places in society and help solve societal, political, communication, technical, and business problems.  Critical thinking is crucial for that.  The ability to sift through and analyze information, to formulate cogent questions, and to weigh arguments can indeed have practical as well as intellectual benefits.

Which brings us back to Dewey.  If "thinking" - critical thinking - is so necessary, why is is so dangerous?  There may be many reasons.  Maybe the powers that be don't want their policies questioned.  Maybe we'd have to look at history differently if we analytically asked different questions.  Thinking might lead us to conclude we might have to examine - maybe even change - some of our own beliefs.  Now THAT can really be scary.

In any event, if we are to progress as a society, if we are to progress as humanity, we must think - and think critically.  We once thought the Sun revolves around the Earth.  Courageous thinkers were eventually proven right.  It was once thought that certain Americans should be denied the right to vote.  Courageous thinkers and activists led the way to change.  We cannot, must not do less than to continue to use our brainpower critically.

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