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Thinking

“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.” Carl Jung

I came across the above quote in an article unrelated to the subject of what thinking is, but as the quote relates to and contains the subject of this post, it seemed to be a good place to start. The quote also implies both an important connection and a difference between thinking and judging; that connection and difference, when you “think” about it, becomes “critical”, especially when everything in recent years is judged according to a polarized agenda.

To begin with, all definitions of thinking contain the word “process”, in this instance of using the mind for reasoning about something, like solving a problem. What gets tricky here is that to be successful in that process it must be objective, meaning done with an open mind so as to see facts clearly and not through the prism of your personal feelings and beliefs, or what is assumed to be conventional wisdom. That’s hard to do because it means subjugating the self so it doesn’t influence thinking with preconceptions; this kind of an unbiased process is called critical thinking, but when you “think” about that, you realize how difficult it can be, and therefore why, as Jung put it, “…most people judge.” 

To judge is to form an opinion or conclusion about something; when the process to get to that point is critical thinking, then that judgement can be considered to be unbiased and therefore correct.  However, as William James once observed, “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” When people allow their innate urge to be right, to be better, to be superior, they are caught up in a binary view of the world around us, necessitating the need to be right or the fear of being wrong, so they tend to base their judgements on beliefs rather than facts.

I choose this topic for this post because it is quite disturbing to see how our educational institutions are failing our youth in the basic subjects of reading and writing, mathematics and science; these are essential learning skills required for critical thinking. This is not a recent trend as it goes back to the late 1970s; around that time US economists became alarmed by a decline in the growth of U.S. productivity which they accounted for by American schools taking a dramatic turn for the worse. After multiple decades of increases, student achievement tests scores declined sharply in 1967, and with few exceptions continued to do so to current times. In the 2021 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results, the US placed 22nd.

Aristotle, considered the greatest thinker and teacher of all time, observed “Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope.” Hope is not a process of thinking, but an emotion; we need hope emotionally as an incentive to carry on in the face if adversity, but it must lead to taking action, but action without thinking is counterproductive. Aristotle’s point is that as youth is so impressionable, they can more easily be taught, which places on the teacher a very high standard of ethical conduct and ability in the essential instruction of basic skills, which are far more valuable than lofty ideas.

We hear much today about parent’s concern that children aren’t being taught basic skills but are being indoctrinated by an educational system dedicated to progressivism. This is not a new phenomenon as the same occurred in the 1950’s with a conservativism reacting to the Red Scare, leading to educational “reforms” for an exorcism of Soviet propaganda. Then again in the 1970’s and 1980’s for reforms to achieve racial balance and promote environmentalism, and on to today with wokeism, and tomorrow who knows. Regardless of the motive behind such educational “reforms”, they are a product of the politicization of education, a devolution to indoctrination; that is a very dangerous policy for education because it substitutes how to think with what to think; that is intellectual coercion, eliminating thinking which is the basic tool for a successful and happy life.

Education is about teaching kids critical thinking skills, whereas indoctrination is about teaching them political narratives. The former provides competency, the ability to function as a thoughtful human being, the later orthodoxy, a form of unconsciousness. What parents really need to do is protect their children’s greatest asset, their minds; if they don’t do that, they should not be surprised that “So, in the interests of survival, they trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was to discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that too.” Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

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Author: jvi7350

Politically I am an independent. While I tend to avoid labels, I consider myself a Libertarian. I find our politics to have deteriorated to a current state of ranting tribialism, and a growing disregard for individual rights; based on the axiom that silence is consent, I choose instead to speak out and therefore launched this blog.

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