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Judging by the number of giraffes that have been appearing
across Facebook this week, there's a serious lack of critical thinkers
It's an epidemic. Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world
turning into giraffes.
Well, virtual giraffes. And just for three days.
A simple riddle that's been trending on Facebook since last Saturday
requests that people who guess an incorrect answer change their
profile pic to that of a giraffe for three days. The riddle itself is
fairly straightforward and can be correctly answered with a bit of
critical thinking. But therein lies the issue. Judging by the number
of giraffes that have been appearing across Facebook this week,
there's a serious lack of critical thinkers out there.
Rather like the giraffe itself, critical thinking is a simple beast.
At its broadest definition it's a skillset for accurately evaluating
information in a logical and disciplined way, using thought processes
like analysing, examining, defining, questioning and reasoning. It's
something we all do many times a day, mostly with small, relatively
insignificant decisions like what to have for lunch.
For many teachers and educators, cultivating critical thinking in
students is the ultimate goal of education. A student who learns the
answer to a particular problem by rote may well master that particular
problem. But if they improve their critical thinking skills, they
effectively equip themselves with the tools to find the solutions to
an unlimited array of unfamiliar problems.
As the following video explains, "critical thinking isn't just
thinking a lot. A person may spend a great deal of intellectual energy
defending a flawed position or pursuing a question that actually needs
reformulating before progress can begin. If they never examine
possible flaws and biases behind their approach, that's not thinking
critically. We must want to be better at thinking to pinpoint and
minimise any biasing influence on our thought, from culture and
upbringing, to seek out and be guided by knowledge and evidence that
fits with reality even if it refutes our cherished beliefs. Indeed
when we think critically, beliefs tend not to be cherished but held on
the understanding that if they're shown to be unfounded, a change of
position is the most appropriate response.
Critical thinking isn't just an essential skill for problem-solving.
It also makes for better, more engaged citizens. Research in the
United States has shown that young people who participated in
classroom debates and discussions (an excellent way to cultivate
critical thinking) were far more likely than their passive
counterparts to sign a written petition, walk, run or ride for
charity, or attend a community meeting. (Molly Andolina, PhD, et al.,
PS: Political Science and Politics, April 2003). Clearly
critical thinking is something that benefits all of us, both as
individuals and as a society, and goes way beyond fun online puzzles
So, be honest now… how many of you out there turned into giraffes?
Raise your hooves.