An Education in Critical-Creative Thinking
Joseph and Sharon
Through an education in understanding ensues the reconciliation of differences
I. Aritcles on the Reading Crisis in America
II. Quotations Regarding the Critical and Creative Thinking Issue
About The Critical-Creative Thinking Curriculum
An Education in Critical-Creative Thinking
Critical-Creative Thinking in the Classroom
Critical-Creative Thinking for Hispanic Students and Parents
A Brief Origin and History of The Studies in Meaning
Ethics and Logic Taught in High School
Author's Chronology of the Studies in Meaning
ARTICLES ON THE READING CRISIS
The Reading Crisis In America
Reading Crisis In America
Adolescent Literacy: A National / Reading Crisis
Reading Crisis in America
Facts About Kids and Reading
The Reading Crisis among the Worlds Poorest School Children
End Childhood Illiteracy
American Schools in Crisis
Why Can't U.S. Students compete With the Rest of the World?
Reading crisis means one in six children miss the magic of Harry Potter
Reading, Literacy & Education Statistics
Growing Demand, Dwindling Resources
QUOTATIONS REGARDING THE CRITICAL THINKING ISSUE
We are approaching a new age of synthesis. Knowledge cannot be merely a degree or a skill ... it demands a broader vision, capabilities in critical thinking and logical deduction without which we cannot have constructive progress.
- Li Ka Shing
In the government schools, which are referred to as public schools, Indian policy has been instituted there, and its a policy where they do not encourage, in fact, discourage, critical thinking and the creation of ideas and public education.
- Russell Means
There's less critical thinking going on in this country on a Main Street level forget about the media than ever before. We've never needed people to think more critically than now, and they've taken a big nap.
- Alec Baldwin
If there was one life skill everyone on the planet needed, it was the ability to think with critical objectivity.
- Josh Lanyon
Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you're thinking in order to make your thinking better.
- Richard Paul
Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.
- Henry Ford
Education can and should do much influence social, moral and intellectual discovery by stimulating critical attitudes of thought in the young.
- George Bernard Shaw
Thinking is skilled work. It is not true that we are naturally endowed with the ability to think clearly and logically - without learning how, or without practicing.
- Alfred Mander
Education without thought comes to nought.
It is critical vision alone which can mitigate the unimpeded operation of the automatic.
- Marshall McLuhan
The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.
- Jean Piaget
The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.
- John Kenneth Galbraith
The trouble with modern education is you never know how ignorant people are. ... these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into depths of confusion you didn't know existed.
- a character in Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't.
- Anatole France
Critical thinking is a desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and hatred for every kind of imposture.
- Francis Bacon
Focus should be to encourage and develop creativity in all children without the ultimate goal begin to make all children inventors, but rather to develop a future generation of critical thinkers.
- Faraq Mousa
Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
 Any fool can know. The point is to understand.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CRITICAL THINKING IN THE SCHOOLS
High school student: "I may be using my pencil, but I'm not using my mind at all."
- "Kids: Teaching Them To Think, " ABC Television Network / May 4. 1989
More than half of America's high school seniors cannot use what they know to reason or back up their opinions," a national report card indicates.
- Los Angeles Times / Nov. 2, 1995
Today's youngsters are unprepared to think critically. Most young people see 'real' education as "Don't confuse me with questions. Just give me the answers to copy - and tell me when the test is."
- "Knowing Is Not Thinking, " Kappan / March 1989
Teacher: "The most important skills that a student can leave school with are the powers of critical thinking."
- "Kids: Teaching Them To Think," ABC Television Network / May 4. 1989
The critical thinking movement is now at the forefront of educational reform in the United States and elsewhere. This major initiative seeks to transform education in all disciplines and at all levels. ... Indeed, many feel critical thinking ability (along with creative thinking) may well be the most important characteristic of the successful individual in the next century.
- "Critical Thinking: Implications for lnstruction," RG / Fall 1995
Before we flood schools with technology, we should use our own critical thinking skills for the purposes of considering how we will be affecting the way we think and the modes we need for learning. If we use technological tools well, we will be enhancing our modes of thinking and our capacity for critical thinking. We will be creating a new literacy that will incorporate all the types of literacy that came before it: circular, literacy, and multidimensional. If not, we may be hastening the deterioration of our civilization.
- " Now More Than Ever: Will High-tech Kids Still Think Deeply?" / The Education Digest, Nov. 2001
The higher level thinking skills [comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation] and the drive to succeed we are working so hard to cultivate in students, are exactly the same qualities students will need to survive in tomorow's workforce. ... Critical thinking is the cornerstone of human existence."
- "Computimes Malaysia"; New York; May 14, 2001 / Mary Leiker, superintendent, Kentwood Public School
District, Michigan, US)
Most teachers recognize the need for promoting critical thinking ... [There is an over-emphasis on] memorization and rote learning. ... Children are capable of higher thought processes, especially as they mature. Critical thinking must be integrated into the childhood curriculum, since learning is not achieved until students acquire, evaluate and apply knowledge. Critical thinking skills are more important than rote implementation. Keep in mind the old proverb: "Give me a fish and I will be fed today. Teach me how to fish and I will be fed forever."
- "Information Is not Knowledge," Childhood Education / Winter 1995
The time has come to move away from the idea that schools can make up for all the experiences poor-performing students have missed in their homes, and to the idea that we can achieve, in the same schools and with the same texts, high levels of performance from all students. To do this we need to help students develop critical thinking skills, but first we need a practical instructional method for teachers with which they can accomplish this task. A process of systematic Socratic questioning can be one important part of an instructional solution that will create a revolution in student learning geared to the development of critical thinking.
- "7 Steps to Teach Critical Thinking" (from NASSP Bulletin, Sept. 1999
Creative thinking should be viewed as an essential supplement to, though not a replacement for, critical thinking.
- source unknown
"The evidence regarding critical thinking is not reassuring. ... Usually, it isn't the logical structure of people's inferences that chiefly causes uncritical thinking but rather the uninformed or misinformed faultiness of their premises."
- Prof. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., "The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them"
The skills of analysis, evaluation, and synthesis will become the hallmarks of a good education, just as absorption of knowledge once was.
- Teaching Information Skills in the Information Age: the Need for Critical Thinking, 1999
A Midwest university professor complained: "We are now focusing more on how to use the tools of communication than we are on how to effectively communicate. ... As a result, we are turning out computer and Internet gurus who can't write and think creatively.
- "The need for critical thinking, "Harvey Mackay, On Business / July 16, 2012
Despite the tremendous educational potential of the information age, students seem to be lessprepared to critically evaluate information or determine and defend what they believe.
- "Overloaded with information, students need critical thinking skills." / Adam Peck, 26 February 2012
Within our brave new digital world, one of the most important skills we must learn is "critical thinking" a concept that rather incredibly, dates back to Socrates over 2000 years ago, but after being "recently" updated in the 20th century for a modern society by many great scholars, it pro-vides a powerful framework for our internet age as every single day we are bombarded by millions of signals of data, information and content, and the quantity of information we are exposed to grows exponentially. In this new digital age, where children and young people have so much access to an incredible world of information but have yet to develop the skills to know how to deal with it becomes something we simply cannot take for granted.
- " Preparing for our future - the need for critical thinking" / 3 OCTOBER 2012 BY D.COPLIN
If you look at the pressing problems we're facing, there is clear evidence that we need to start thinking very differently as a species. People across the globe are interconnected as never before, and unless we start to routinely examine our thinking in explicit, systematic ways, we will continue to do what we're doing now which is a seemingly hopeless blend of both good and bad thinking.
It is of course important to recognize that many people are working hard to create a better world animal rights groups such as PETA, the Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society, groups like Amnesty International and environmental groups trying to curb destruction of the planet are a few that come to mind. But what is missing is a conversation about what is at the root of all the problems these groups and other advocacy groups are attempting to address: what kind of thinking caused all these problems in the first place? Very few people are aware of the tools of critical thinking which, when routinely applied, could deal with these problems more systematically and permanently. We are all citizens of a global community and by implication, we need to think well about global issues: we are in a literal race to save our oceans, our air perhaps our very planet. Our lives are interwoven in ways we don't even understand. The only way we can solve the almost overwhelming problems we currently face us is if we collectively begin to think critically in a global, systematic, fair-minded way. Only then can we begin to realize the world Socrates envisioned.
- "The Need For a Critical Thinking Revolution" / Apr 1, 2011
KNOWLEDGE NEEDED IN ORDER TO THINK CRITICALLY
Critical thinking is a lot harder than people think, because it requires knowledge.
- Joanne Jacobs
Understandably, modern educators want to impart the same skills to our children. However, many educators misunderstand the terms 'critical thinking' or 'higher order thinking skills.' One of the most common mistakes teachers make is to view critical thinking as the opposite of rote learning or memori- zation. In reality, the learning of facts is the essential first step to thinking critically. ... If
we want our children to make wise decisions, we must also provide in-depth knowledge about the humanities and sciences. ... To give a child a story and ask 'how do you feel about this?' accomp- lishes very little. ... The more a child knows about history, literature, math and science, the better equipped he will be to construct his own judgements.
- "What to Think about Critical Thinking Parent Power"
Today you may hear a lot from educators about higher order thinking skills. The jargon generally goes something like this: 'Skills for workers in the Twenty-first century will require the students of today to focus more on higher order thinking skills and less on lower order thinking skills. We must move away from drill-grill-and-kill teaching and allow students to explore more creative and critical thinking skills.' However ... research in thinking skills has found one thing that separates experts in a field from very good but less-than-expert practitioners: experts are so skilled at the basics they can quickly move to more advanced and creative problem solving. ... For all the well-intentioned talk of 'higher-order thinking skills,' too many students don't have enough of a grasp on basic skills and knowledge to adequately function at 'higher' levels.
- Thinking Skills by Eric Buehrer
After more than 20 years of lamentation, exhortation, and little improvement, maybe it's time to ask a fundamental question: Can critical thinking actually be taught? Decades of cognitive research point to a disappointing answer: not really. People who have sought to teach critical thinking have assumed that it is a skill, like riding a bicycle, and that, like other skills, once you learn it, you can apply it in any situation. Research from cognitive science shows that thinking is not that sort of skill. The processes of thinking are intertwined with the content of thought (that is, domain knowledge).
Thus, if you remind a student to 'look at an issue from multiple perspectives' often enough, he will learn that he ought to do so, but if he doesn't know much about an issue, he can't think about it from multiple perspectives. You can teach students maxims about how they ought to think, but without background knowledge and practice, they probably will not be able to implement the advice they memorize. Just as it makes no sense to try to teach factual content without giving students opportunities to practice using it, it also makes no sense to try to teach critical thinking devoid of factual content.
- Critical Thinking: Why Is It So Hard to Teach?
Akin's essay is a wonderfully delightful and compelling defense of learning the basics through memory and repetition! Here are some excerpts: "Consider such practices as cooking, carpentry, playing a musical instrument, horseback riding and other sports. Each builds upon a foundation of physical skills and in each case mastery consists of performing with automatic facility. As a beginner you move slowly, thoughtfully, with conscious attention. In a disciplined way you repeat the same movements again and again. Think of Audrey Hepburn at the cooking school in Sabrina: 'one-two-three, crack. New egg. One-two-three, crack. New egg ...' Think of the scales and arpeggios with which as a budding pianist you train your hands. As you practice, you speed up and your movements alter so that they are less in your mind than 'in your fingers'. ... "Understanding just what you are doing and why you are doing it is not essential in learning these skills. It can even be an impediment if it is regarded as a substitute for the boring repetition that practicing a skill requires. Someone who 'knows how to hold a pool cue' probably doesn't, if he hasn't practiced much shooting. ... "Of course, all of these arts involve thinking, but the thought occurs at higher levels which are built upon a foundation of unthinking facility. You think about how to vary a sauce not how to crack an egg, about what is the appropriate emphasis for a musical passage not what note is flat in the key of F."
- In Defense of "Mindless Rote"
You can't think or communicate outside of the box if you don't know what's in the box.
- Niki Hayes
Whenever I hear people say that they 'think outside the box' I cringe, because ... I hear these people saying ... that one need not know what is well-accepted. As a teacher, I want my students to know what is inside the box. ... It is because knowing what is inside the box is the only way to get outside the box in a useful way once the basics are mastered. Psychologists who study prodigious accomp- lishments, in science, music, or art, speak about the 10,000-hour rule, meaning that in order to do something notable in some field, one must devote 10,000+ hours to mastering the discipline in question. Practice, practice, and practice ... and appreciate that much of this practice needs to be done inside the box. If you never venture outside the box, you will probably not be creative. But if you never get inside the box, you will certainly be stupid.
- Christopher Peterson, Ph.D., Psychology Today
"Critical-thinking skills": A phrase that implies an ability to analyze ideas and solve problems while taking a sufficiently independent, "critical" stance toward authority to think things out for one's self. It is an admirable educational goal for citizens of a democracy, and one that has been advocated in the United States since Jefferson. The ability to think critically is a goal that is likely to be accepted by all American educational theorists. But it is a goal that can easily be oversimplified and slogan- ized. In the progressive tradition that currently dominates our schools, "critical thinking" has come to imply a counterpoise to the teaching of "mere facts," in which, according to the dominant caricature, sheep-like students passively absorb facts from text- books or lecture-style classrooms. Critical thinking, by contrast, is associated with active, discovery learning and with the autonomous, inde- pendent cast of mind that is desirable for the citizens of a democracy. Conceived in this progressive tradition, critical thinking belongs to the formalistic tool conception of education, which assumes that a critical habit of thought, coupled with an ability to read for the main idea and an ability to look things up, is the chief component of critical-thinking skills. This tool conception, however, is an incorrect model of real-world critical thinking. Independent-mindedness is always predicated on relevant knowledge: one cannot think critically unless one has a lot of relevant knowledge about the issue at hand. Critical thinking is not merely giving one's opinion. To oppose "critical thinking" and "mere facts" is a profound empirical mistake. Common sense and cognitive psychology alike support the Jeffersonian view that critical thinking always depends upon factual knowledge.
- "The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them"
To commit something to memory isn't necessarily to learn it 'without understanding or thought.' As anyone knows who's tried it, retaining facts is much easier when you see how they fit into a larger picture that makes sense. Yet in a subtle bit of linguistic sleight of hand, the pejorative term 'rote memorization' is commonly used as synonymous with memorization tout court. It's almost always contrasted with comprehension and critical thinking - as if knowing things and thinking about things were mutually exclusive. ... One can't help wondering what it is the children are to analyze what exactly they are to think about if their starting point is not to be a command of the specifics recounted in the book. This conflation of mindless, blab-school, learning-by-rote with the necessary, if sometimes painful, committing of information to memory has a sordid effect: to dress up ignor- ance as superior thoughtfulness. Implicitly, it disparages the intake of knowledge once the very essence of classroom learning as an activity fit only for drones.
- The Difference Between Thinking and Knowing: Memorization Doesn't Deserve Its Bad Name
Excerpt: "By claiming students learn 'higher level thinking' skills, the educational establishment exposes its true ignorance of how children learn. 'Higher level thinking' is virtually impossible without a foundation of automaticity of basic skills and knowledge. In other words, students can't
do higher-level thinking unless basic-level thinking has become automatic.
- Now Schools Can Be Held More Accountable
The Studies in Meaning Curriculum
There is a fundamental, persistent, reading problem in our times, and I believe that the root of this problem can be summed up in the fact that there is so much knowledge to be learned, yet so little understanding of that knowledge.
Accordingly, what is wanting in the schools is a training in critical and creative thinking through which students understand what they read and write.
It is the purpose of Studies In Meaning©, to address and help resolve this reading problem--as well as the intellectual and psychological fragmentation which results from it.
Studies In Meaning© is a critical-creative thinking program in the language arts. It trains students to understand what they read, write, and think. It develops higher order thinking skills that assures the intellectual discipline needed for academic success and intellectual excellence.
For this understanding to take place, students must interact with their studies by being continuously exercised AT THE SAME TIME AS they read, and in an integrated procedure, so that interrelationships between related topics are grasped. Such a learning process will ensure that students think through what they read, not skim through it.
Accordingly, the distinctive feature of Studies in Meaning is its integrated-interactive learning process. Its integrated component is such that a given reading topic -- social studies, for example -- includes exercises in vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, writing, and art. Each of these types of exercises is interrelated so that students understand the reading topic more fully, integratedly, than they would otherwise.
Its interactive component is such that students are continually exercised in vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension at the same time as they read to be sure they understand the material step by step. This study-as-you-read learning process ensures that students think through what they read rather than hurriedly skim through it as a preliminary to answering the questions at the end of a reading section or chapter.
The Studies in Meaning program is divided into three progressive steps beginning with the orientation studies, next the core studies, and lastly, the literature studies. Each of these steps requires that students read analytically, step by step. They must continuously make fine distinctions, relationships, inferences, projections AS THEY READ. They cannot skim the reading material. They are required to think through what they read regardless of the length or topic of the reading material.
The basic language arts program includes eight studybooks from beginning reading through twelfth grade. The two key components to the Studies In Meaning method are integrated and interactive learning.
The objective of the Studies In Meaning© program is to keep the student's mind continuously engaged in, and concentrated on, their course work. In fact, it is not possible for students to succeed in the program unless they are fully focused. It is this feature of Studies In Meaning© which ensures in-depth learning from the student, and distinguishes the program from rote (or perfunctory) learning.
The Studies In Meaning© program is meant to complement the standard school curriculum insofar as it is a training in higher-order thinking skills that prepares students to understand their school studies and their lives.
The learning pattern of the primary studybooks for the elementary and secondary grades is divided into two parts: the orientation studies and the core studies. In addition to these primary studybooks, are the three levels of the beginning reading series - which naturally lead into the aforementioned basic studybooks.
The purpose of the orientation studies, part one, is to prepare students for the longer reading topics of the core studies. Assuming that most students are not accustomed to the intellectual discipline of reading critically and thinking creatively, the orientation studies are designed to orient (prepare) them easily through exercises in one-sentence definitions in grammar, English usage, vocabulary in context, and in short reading passages (social studies, science, literature, etc.) of no more than three or four sentences.
The learning procedure of the orientation studies is that for each set of exercises in either grammar, English usage, vocabulary in context, social studies, science, etc., one part of the set consists of critical thinking exercises and the other part of related creative thinking exercises.
As a side note, it is important to emphasize that, though the Studies In Meaning program uses the topics of grammar, English usage, vocabulary, social studies, science, literature, and so forth, in its learning process, the program is not primarily a course in any one of these topics; its main purpose is to teach critical-creative thinking in reading and writing, whatever the topic. This applies to the core studies as well.
The core studies, book two, are the essence of the Studies In Meaning program inasmuch as they exemplify its distinctive study-as-you-read learning process. They consist of relatively long reading passages in which students are continuously exercised in grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension at the same time as they read. More precisely, students are trained to read analytically by having to make fine distinctions, relationships, inferences, projections, as they read. Included in this study-as-you-read learning process are synthetic exercises (summary, main idea, and title), creative writing, and art.
Put together, both the orientation and core exercises develop the receptive student's ability to think through what he or she reads and writes. These exercises develop a contextual understanding of words and ideas that become an ongoing conscious awareness of the meaning of what they study -- hence the title of the program, Studies In Meaning.
An Education in Critical-Creative Thinking
Do students overall understand their textbooks? Do they even read them; or do they merely mem- orize or track answers to text questions? And relatedly, is the quality of their education preparing them for the future, for the kind of society they are going to live in? The gravity of these questions is cause for concern, if not alarm, for they underlie the current reading crisis and considerable chaos in education.
Any parent who is abreast of the current issues in American education knows that something is not quite right with their children's schooling regardless of whether they are failing, getting by, or excelling in their studies. Something clearly is missing; and in a word, it is understanding contex-
tual understanding, to be precise.
Textbook comprehension exercises require that students understand what they read, when in fact, understanding of complex textbook material often involves careful analysis (making distinctions, associations, inferences, conclusions) and synthesis (summarization, title, theme, main idea, etc.) which are necessary steps to comprehension. Yet, standard textbooks do not teach comprehension; they assume that students have that ability already, or if not, then can gain it "if they think hard enough." It is this dubious assumption that touches the nerve of the current crisis in education, because the very meaning of the word 'comprehension' implies "an understanding [author's italics] of the object of thought in its entire compass and extent "; which clearly goes beyond the average, and above average, student's textbook reading ability without some kind of training for that attainment.
To the point: The pedagogical weakness in standard textbook learning is that students are required to answer comprehension questions after they read a section or chapter in their textbooks which casts doubt on whether they even read the material much less understand it; by which I mean, they can simply read the questions, then track the answers without having to read the material at all. This practice is known as finding the facts, which is one type of rote learning, meaning: mechanical learning by memory or repetition, etc. with little intelligence or reasoning applied which has its place in academics, since a good part of academics requires rote learning. My argument, however,
is that something complementary to, something more substantial than, rote learning is needed in our times and urgently. [As a side note, current textbooks do attempt to minimize rote fact-finding and cursory reading, but in such a way that the study questions are framed in such complicated, compre hensive, inferential, and abstract terms that they only compound the problem by requiring students to "think hard" about what so many of them hardly even understand or bother to read.]
Another type of rote learning that has its failings is recognizing patterns; such as, 'ly' at the end of words which signals adverbs. However, if students do not understand the meaning of an adverb, then they fail to recognize adverbs that are exceptions, such as, "not"; or think that "lovely" is an adverb because it ends 'ly'; when in fact it is an adjective.
Still another type of rote learning that fails students is memorizing definitions without understand- ing their meaning. Students' definition of a noun is the paradigm of the overall weakness of rote learning. Almost all students say that a noun is "a person, place, thing, or an idea"; yet, there is no such thing as a noun, nor such place, nor such person. A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or idea. Somehow students miss that essential phrase, "name of," which indicates that the function of a noun is to name anything; and with that understanding, students would be less inclined to confuse the function of nouns with the function of otherparts of speech.
As an aside, why I consider this (mis)definition of a noun as the paradigm of the overall weakness of rote learning is that it indicates very succinctly students' proclivity to abbreviate, or eliminate, as much of their reading and understanding as they can. By abbreviating the proper definition of a noun as "A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or idea," to "A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea," the proper meaning of a noun is lost; in which case, this definitional modification identifies a noun as a person, place, thing, and idea; which is an erroneous misplacement of meaning.
And then there is the glossary at the back of most textbooks, or after each chapter or division, which lists the key terms and concepts. These definitional concepts give "an idea" of the material covered, and are easy to memorize for tests; but they certainly do not contribute to understanding the chap- ter's interrelated concepts. So, again, students find a way to skip over, or skim, their textbook's knowledge.
These comments lead to the conclusion that an education based primarily on rote learning is super- ficial at best, and is inadequate to meet the requirements of those students who need to understand what they read. A related consequence and a critical one in fact concerning this inadequate education is that since standard textbook learning methods do not teach understanding, students accordingly miss much of what they read, and so are inadequately prepared intellectually and psychologically to meet the demands of a highly sophisticated, competitive, troubled, and confused American society not to mention the world, which is looming over everyone globally.
[By "the" solution, I mean it in regards to a new, distinctive curriculum, Studies In Meaning©, which teaches critical-creative thinking. There are, of course, other solutions to the present crisis in edu- cation other than curriculum which can be found everywhere in the media and on the internet.]
Granting, then, that understanding needs to be an integral part of education, how is it to be taught? Through critical thinking which is the current catchword among teachers and educators. But then we have to be very clear on the relationship between critical thinking and understanding; and accordingly, THREE QUESTIONS arise regarding this matter: (1) What is critical thinking, (2) What method would best teach it, and (3) Does such a teaching method exist?
In answer to the FIRST QUESTION, critical thinking, in the broadest terms, is the cognitive process by which a person can determine whether what he reads is true or false, effective or ineffective, sound or unsound, genuine or misleading. Skillful judgment is the mark of critical thinking.
Before answering the second question, we have first to consider that before students can critically evaluate a reading passage, they first have to understand it; and if they do not, they then have to know how to analyze its component ideas. This analysis is called analytical reading. Next, in order to com- prehend the passage as a whole, they have to know how to synthesize (summarize, title, find the main idea, and theme, etc.) the material. In simple terms, then, critical thinking requires under- standing, and understanding requires analytical and synthetical reading ability. The ideal, of course, is that this threefold intellectual process happens both simultaneously and instantaneously.
Now, to answer the SECOND QUESTION one point at a time. If we expect students to understand what they learn, then they are to be questioned coincidentally with their reading. Such a teaching procedure will ensure that students think through their reading material, not skim through it; and will engage them in an active, challenging, and individualized learning process through which they progress at their own level and pace.
These continual exercises are of the type in which students have to make distinctions, relation- ships, inferences, evaluations, projections; exercises that will teach careful and clear thinking pat- terns; will develop their analytical, synthetical, interpretative, and creative potentials.
This in general is the learning method that will effectively teach critical thinking; and will change the face of education.
What in particular is this method? Its name is Studies In Meaning©. It is a studybook curriculum based on the language arts, and its method is an integrated-interactive learning process.
As integrated, this method combines exercises in vocabulary, grammar, analytical reading, writing, creative thinking into one study whether of social studies, science, literature, logic, math, etc..
As interactive, this method requires that students be continually questioned analytically and creatively in vocabulary, grammar, and reading topics at the same time (or coincidently) that they read a given topic not after they read it.
In answer to the THIRD QUESTION, no such teaching method exists in the schools at least in an organized, methodically procedure. But it does exist as a studybook curriculum (Studies In Meaning) that complements the regular school curriculum. Many hundreds of students have been benefited markedly by this distinctive critical-creative thinking method, privately and publically in after-school programs in three elementary public schools of the Los Angeles Unified School District's, and in one elementary public school of the Redondo Beach Unified School District; and in regular school clas- ses at Coushatta High School, Louisiana, at Hot Springs High School, Arkansas.
In summary, Studies In Meaning is a critical-creative thinking program, and can be considered as in-depth learning as distinguished from rote learning.
Thinking, understanding, creativity, and meaning these are the criteria by which the quality of education will be measured in the near future; and hopefully your children will be part of this depth education.
CLOSING NOTE: Were teachers not to use such a critical-creative thinking program suggested in this essay, they could easily apply the same teaching method using their regular textbooks. It would be just a matter of the teacher "slowing down" by reading aloud from the textbook; and, not only elaborating on the material, but asking analytical-synthetical-creative (critical thinking) questions about the material to test students' understanding of it kind of like a seminar. This mode of teaching need not be done every day; but perhaps once or twice a week.
Of course, this "seminar" teaching would require some preparation on the teacher's part to formulate the questions ahead of the lesson, and would depend on classroom stability and discipline.
As a side note, I can attest to the value of this mode of teaching, as this is the way I taught high school students both ethics and logic for 11 years with considerable success.
CRITICAL-CREATIVE THINKING IN THE CLASSROOM
The critical thinking movement is now at the forefront of educational reform
in the United States and elsewhere. The major initiative seeks to transform
education in all disciplines and at all most important characteristic of the
successful individual in the next century.
"Critical Thinking: Implications for Instruction," RG/Fall 1995
Joseph. This quotation pretty much pinpoints the need for a drastic change in education, doesn't it.
Mother. Yes, it does. I've been thinking about your critical-creative thinking program, and how much it's helped my child in her school work and her thinking. It's given her a confidence that she didn't have before. I believe critical and creative thinking is the future of education, just as the quotation says; especially because of the complex technology in our day; and that's going to be more and more of our future, in our everyday lives, in ways that we can't even imagine at this time. The im- portant thing is that the people who will be using this growing technology, the children of today, will have to know how to process information, how to make associations, how to interpret information. In other words, they will no longer need vast banks of knowledge, because they'll just press the keys of the computer for that information. But they better know how to interpret that information; know what inferences they can make from it; know what they can associate it to; what they can link it too. And this higher order thinking all comes if you have the ability to think critically: to judge the infor- mation, to evaluate it. In other words, "You don't need to store your brain anymore with superfluous information, kids; it's all here for you. But if you don't know what to do with it, then you're sunk."
Joseph. I see what you're saying: Less knowledge, but more understanding of that knowledge; and the ability to go after information or discover it.
Mother. That's it.
Joseph. Can, what you predict, be done in mass education?
Mother. I think so. You see, learning is going to become more self-discovery; there's no doubt about that in my mind. It's going to be more self-oriented; because, for one thing, this thing about sitting around waiting for this other kid who can hardly even read, and your mind's a million miles away; all that's going to go. It's going to be more self-oriented.
J. In the classroom?
M. Yes, in the classroom. So, let's say that we have textbooks that are a training in critical and creative thinking; and within that training, the child is accumulating facts and knowledge, which is what we want them to have: some accumulation. But the education is being built mainly on how to think about the information they're learning; how to use it, how to exploit it, so it doesn't exploit them.
So, until we get to the point in which there are computers and the internet in all classrooms, for all students, in which information around the world is accessible to everyone and I see that in the very near future we're going to have this training in the higher order thinking in textbooks. I would be happy if I thought that's what my daughter is learning today. I'm not happy overall that she's being educated in the same way I was educated. My daughter's being taught in pretty much the same as I was in seventh grade; maybe a bit more advanced. But that makes me very unhappy, because we live in a whole different world than when I was in seventh grade
J. I see your point; yet, from one perspective, I don't see what the problem is. First of all we're still turning out doctors, lawyers, scientists, architects, et al we have perhaps the wealthiest country in the world, we're up on the moon, now on mars, on the internet; we're making so many advances in medicine, in ecology, in our social and environmental awareness, and the list goes on and on. I mean, you wonder, what's wrong with education if it's turning out all these technological, human wonders? Why is there such a need for critical thinking when students from all over the world come to America to be educated here? I'm aware, of course, that our personal and social situations are lagging far behind these technological advances; we're in grave danger in that respect. No doubt such training in critical-creative thinking will help balance us out technologically, socially and psychologically.
M. I believe it will. But one of the important, practical reasons for this training is economics. In the near future there won't be that many lowly jobs available. That's one of the things that is changing very rapidly. There was a time when the kids who didn't make it academically could just get a blue collar job with little nor no training. With the advent of computers, in a bank, for example, there are fewer clerks. Even on assembly lines, almost everything is done by computers and robots.
J. You're right. Now that you mention robots, I can imagine robots as janitors very easily. Even clerks. As a matter of fact, try to find more than one or two clerks in a major department store nowadays.
M. Right, So, if you're not at least trained technically, what's going to happen to you? The country will not be able to support all the unqualified people on welfare. Something's going wrong, and I think we're on the eve of a real breakdown, unless something drastically changes. It's like every-thing's fine; we're still producing at a high level, we're still making money, we have the highest gross national product, and so on; but on another level, as you pointed out, we're not going for- wards. People, in whatever economic strata, are still highly prejudiced; are still subject to supersti- tion; and to the so-called old ways. That's got to change, that's got to break down; there is no going back.
J. Why? Because of the vast interconnections we're making with the world: the internet, for one?
J. And because the new mechanics, electricians, clerks, and the like, are going to have to be com- puter literate; and for no other reason than that. Children need to be educated on a higher level, so that they can operate the logical complexities of the computer, can read complex technical books. A worker will no longer be able to work mindlessly on an assembly line, but will have to know how to work a computer. And I believe that that is one of the reasons the government is so concerned about the poor performance of so many students across the country; because if they drop out by the scores, or are poorly educated, who are going to run the computers?
M. And understand what comes up on the computer.
J. That's right; if for no other reason than to be able to make a distinction between information and misinformation. This thought applies all the more to the internet; you have to know how to write, since the bulk of information is the written word; you have to know how to decipher complex text, how to argue a case with people all over the world.
M. And expressing yourself effectively. My second child just started kindergarten, and he's extreme- ly bright; and I don't how long it will be before he's going to be bored to tears. They're studying one letter per week, and that means twenty-six weeks before they get through the alphabet. and I realize that some of that is necessary, because he has to learn how to make the letters and all that. But in the meantime, I have a boy who is so intelligent! His mind can be expanding by leaps and bounds at this early age. He could be learning four different languages. You see? And here we are on a letter a week. And a lot of coloring and shapes. I mean, he knew his shapes when he was three. Two years later he's studying shapes. You see, I wish at least part of the day could be critical thinking for him, little science projects; some drama and music and dance and board games and directed physical games; what to do with the information they've learned, such as: corks float; will I float if I attach corks all over me? I think it's just tragic that our children's lives are being wasted in school today. Now that's a blanket statement, of course; many of them are learning something worthwhile; and for the rest, at least they're learning how to get along with others; and they get read to, and have fun and exercise, and so on. I'm just talking about that one area where they're not really learning to their potential. And critical thinking will do that: it will bring them up to their potential.
J. What about all the students who don't have the ability or the interest to study critically, who just learn on the surface to get by. Should they be learning critical thinking too?
M. Sure they should. There will always be those who won't want to learn anything complicated; but, if most of the children are trained to think logically, critically, most of them will be able to adapt to new techniques. Besides, I think children will be much more receptive to this type of learning, because it's more self-oriented; and you can go at your own pace; and you can discover in your own way.
J. So, if we train more and more students, as well as adults, critically and creatively, to make associations, relationships, projections, evaluations, inferences, then are we not going to have a society of intellectuals who would not lower themselves to manual work?
M. No. I think that's like saying if we have integration everybody's going to marry across the color line, and all the babies are going to be mixed breeds. Well, we have integration, and that hasn't happened; because there's just a natural attraction to people of like races usually anyhow. And even if the exception does happen, the world doesn't come to an end. I think it's the same thing here; we all have natural yearnings and leanings and tendencies; and if you can train everybody in this type of thinking, I think in the law of probability, you'll still have the same number of people who just want to stay home and be housewives, let's say; or a certain number of people who want
to pilot airplanes, or a certain number of people who want to be musicians or electricians or truck drivers or carpenters; they just have a natural inclination for their chosen field. That's like saying: If we go into public education, and we educate everyone, even the servant's children, well, then every- one's going to want to be doctors and lawyers, and where will I be? It didn't happen, did it. And we do educate everyone, and they do not all become professionals; it just doesn't happen. It's that natural attraction to different things. It's the variety in life.
J. I had that experience often in my high school logic class over the years. One student in particular stands out. He wanted nothing more than to be plumber; he was a plumber type; you know what I mean? yet, he really enjoyed the strict reasoning of logic once he caught on.
M. No, I don't think we ever have to worry about everyone wanting to be white collar workers. But I do think the whole world will change if everyone learned how to think in this way.
J. I believe it.
M. Though I think this type of learning will not only be for the better; new problems will be created.
J. But we would be moving forward, in any case, problems and all.
M. That's right. But to go back to my own children. I'm so upset about how they're being educated overall.
Then I heard about how good private schools are, and I looked into that, and I see that they're not really that different. Maybe the teachers are better educated, maybe the textbooks are newer and harder. I've talked to some of the children who attend the private school here, and elsewhere, and I don't see that they're any more enlightened than my children. So the private schools are not the answer. The answer is that we can't continue to educate the children as if it were 1947, because it's not 1947.
J. Yet, the textbooks are much more interesting in design and content than in 1947; there's much more emphasis on various cultures and their customs and ways of living; there's much more sophis- tication in text and structure and photographs; I think that's all an advancement in education.
M. Yes, it is an advancement, but it's basically the same thing. You read aloud, the teacher lectures a bit, then you answer some questions after each section of a chapter, then you take your test.
J. So, you're saying that learning about other cultures has no more interest to a child than learning about the division of fractions; that it's meaningless other than having to learn it to pass tests and go on to the next topic?
M. Even if it does mean something, it's gone, because you haven't integrated it into yourself. Why should you at the ages of nine, ten, eleven?
J. And you're saying to which I agree that you should know how to even if it doesn't mean anything to you.
M. Exactly. And if you know how to think critically; if you had developed this higher order thinking skill then you can even go on your own and explore it in the library, without computers, let's say.
J. But don't many students who are interested in a given subject, such as Uganda society, go to the library and research it; they don't need to be prompted, or to be taught critical thinking. They either research on their own volition or are assigned by their teachers to do so. I think you're underesti- mating the rigor of study so many students go through, especially in fine schools all without critical thinking skills as part of their curriculum. Though, I realize that much research that is done for school assignments is simply copying the necessary material for the report, and following format.
But I think what you're saying is or at least what I'm getting from you is that it may be true that some students have a natural scholarly talent, but we have to make more and more people aware of Uganda and its culture and it problems, because we're becoming more and more one world economically; and if we're going to become more and more one world economically, we'd better become more and more one world psychologically and socially. We'd better learn about the people we're selling coca cola and jeans to, because we have to work with them deal with them, even socialize with them. We're faced with all the differences between them and us. Are we going to carry over into different cultures our racial prejudices and different religions and morals with us. That's what we're talking about in this need for critical thinking.
M. Yes. It helps develop a global perspective on life. Even if you don't want the United States to trade with any other country, even if you're very nationalistic; that's fine; but you still have to have that global perspective, because you don't live in the world separate from others. And now with the information explosion, with the technology, that's here to stay; it's not going to go away. It's going to become more and more complex, and yet simpler. You can no longer bury your head in the sand. And I want to make sure that my children are never afraid of information from all quarters; never afraid to go out and explore.
You talked about the child who goes to the library to get all these books on a subject he likes; still, if that child hasn't been trained to think critically, that child will not know what to do with all the information in all those books; because, realistically, if you can think critically, then you can even understand the whole relationship between, let's say, the children in Uganda to something that is happening in your own life. See, everything will take on meaning once children can think critically. That's one of the problems today: I just don't think that education means much to anyone anymore.
J. That's true, except economically, as it relates to their job. What kind of job am I going to get is equated with the extent of my education, or my interest in education. Or what my parents may expect of me.
Well, okay. Very convincing. Now, how would you respond to the objection, which I've been faced with, that there is already too much logic, too much reason, which is in good part why we're in the social and personal mess that we're in. Now with critical thinking, you're just adding to the problem.
M. I'm not sure, but isn't that where the creative part of your studies comes in? Won't thinking crea- tively balance the strictness of critical thinking?
J. Exactly. I remember being very concerned about that objection, because I'm one for the develop- ment of the intuitive mind as well as the rational, aspect of it. It's this matter of developing both the right and left parts of the brain; what is it, linear and lateral thinking, I'm not sure? Accordingly, I revised my studies so that there was this balance between critical and creative thinking, which I hyphenated as critical-creative thinking.
M. Can you explain the relationship, this balance, a bit in your studies?
J. Simply put, it's this: for almost every critical thinking exercise there is a related creative exercise, so that the student is thinking both critically and creatively at the same time. So, they're expanding their logical, reasoning understanding to include creative thinking which takes them beyond the given material so that they have to dredge up - and that's what it is in good part for many students: "dredging up" associations, projections, interpretations, relationships, based on the material; they're using their own thoughts buried in their subconscious; they're using their creative imagina- tion. And I can't tell you how difficult that is for so many students however well they may do on the critical exercises. So, there's where associations projections, interpretations, and the like, come into critical thinking. First students analyze the material to help them understand it; then they take that understanding one step further into their creative imagination to make new associations, relation- ships, interpretations. That is their creative imagination working. And that's why I call my studies critical-creative thinking, because from one aspect, critical thinking is creative as well as analytical. As a matter of fact, I don't know where the dividing line is between rational understanding and creative understanding.
M. Very intriguing. It puts into perfect perspective all that I've been saying.
J. And another point is that today's educators, those who write the textbooks are certainly not clear on the meaning of critical thinking. They confuse the logical aspect of critical thinking with its crea- tive aspect. For example, in the many recent textbooks I've reviewed there is almost always a so-called critical thinking exercise when in fact they are creative exercises. Such exercises as: If you were Christopher Columbus, what signs would you have noticed that somehow you had not landed in India? In a word, the word "critical" is a deeply complex concept that has taken me years to fully comprehend if even I have "fully" comprehended it. But I do know this: that creative thinking is an integral part of critical thinking: the other side of the same coin. We tend to think that critical anal- ysis is the whole of critical thinking, when in fact it subtly includes creative thinking as well; and that is what my creative exercises trains the mind for: to make such a distinction clear. So, in way critical-creative is redundant; but I use it for emphasis of the creative side of critical thinking.
M. So then the textbooks are right in a way when they ask creative questions under critical thinking exercises.
J. Partly, yes. but they confound the two.
J. By assuming - knowingly or unknowingly - that creative thinking is the whole of critical thinking.
M. I'm still a little confused.
J. And rightly so; it's deeply confusing. You see before you can critically including its counterpart, creatively evaluate a body of knowledge, you first have to understand it. Clear?
J. And some students can immediately, naturally, understand a passage in social studies, science or literature, without training, to mention a few subjects.
J. But not all students can understand all subjects easily; they need to know how to approach this understanding methodically so that they can understand material across the board, so to speak.
M. I agree.
J. So what is needed is a method to teach this understanding, which I developed in my Studies in Meaning from beginning reading through high school and when I say "my" studies, I include my wife, who helped me develop it; and, who without, they would never have been created.
M. That I know. And what is this method?
J. Analytical-synthetic reading: how to analyze the reading material step by step, and then how to synthesize it. All the exercises are developed and structured in this way. Once they understand it, they are next given related creative exercises which expand the given facts into their own pool of knowledge by which they can make associations, interpretations, and so forth. The analytic exer- cises require students to think analytically, inferentially; logically, to make distinctions; in short: to manipulate the given facts so as to make relationships between the given facts. Is it becoming clearer now?
M. Getting there. Can you give me an example?
J. Let me see. All right, here's one. In one of the passages, it says that early TVs had poor sound, small picture tube, and were in black and white. The exercise asks: AGREES or DISAGREES "Modern TVs are much improved from early TVs." Now, in the passage, there is no mention of, or reference to, the improvement of modern TVs over early TVs. The student has to take the given facts in the pas- sage, relate them, one to the other juggle them around, so to speak; then "perceive" from the facts that: if early TVs did not have color, and had poor sound quality, and had a small picture; and mo- dern TVs do have color, do have good sound quality, and large pictures then, "obviously" modern TVs are improved from early TVs. Answer: AGREES. A classic Socrates example of this kind of rea- soning is: Given the fact that all men are mortal, and the fact that Socrates is a man, then it follows that Socrates is mortal. Nowhere in the two facts (premises) does it mention Socrates' mortality; it has to be inferred, or concluded, by the given facts. Or one more example I always used to use with my students: The streets are wet, the rooftops are wet, the grass is wet, the cars are wet. Therefore, we can safely though not necessarily conclude that it rained. But nowhere in the facts (or premises) is the word "rain" used. It is inferred, or concluded from the facts.
M. I've got it now.
J. And of course, students have to know what the words "improves," and "modern," and "early" means before they can even begin to, first understand the passage, and second analytically evaluate it which is another problem in itself regarding so many students' lack of extensive reading other than textbooks.
M. And your studies teach children how to make associations by first teaching what associations are, what inferences are, what relationships are, what interpretations are, what projections are. Teachers and textbooks assume that students already know what these terms mean, or simply skim over them, as though they're "understood."
J. Right. I remember a former tutoring student of mine who had just started ninth grade at an elite private school. And she told me that her biology instructor told her class that his class was the one class that they were going to learn how to think hard, really hard. So how do the students learn this hard thinking? By being assigned extremely difficult assignments where they had to really think hard to answer them. So he didn't teach them how to think "hard" at all; he merely gave them hard material for them to think hard about. Circular reasoning, simple as that.
So that is basically what is involved in critical thinking: coming to understand what you're reading through analysis and synthesis, which involves associations, relationships, inferences, and the like. Because before you can critically evaluate what you're reading, you have to understand what you're reading; and then from that understanding of the facts, to expand that understanding creatively.
M. Right. Then in time, it becomes automatic. It's like certain physical training. Let's say, we learn how to march a certain way. At first you have to concentrate and make your legs do that march; in time, you can be thinking about the beach and you're marching correctly, because your body does it automatically. So, once their trained in critical thinking, they will do it automatically.
J. Exactly. I remember reading a quotation from the noted logician-mathematician, Alfred White-head, who wrote, in effect, that the whole point of learning the principles of logic is so that you don't have to think at all right thinking just comes to you automatically.
THE HISPANIC MOVEMENT TOWARD AN EDUCATION IN UNDERSTANDING
THE MOVEMENT'S PURPOSE
To benefit Hispanic children, youth, and adults
To learn English with understanding through a critical-creative thinking curriculum]
To gradually shift into the American mainstream
THE MOVEMENT'S CRITICAL-CREATIVE THINKING STUDYBOOKS
ESL phonetic-integrated studies (all levels)
Vocabulary in context studies (all levels)
Language arts studies (all levels)
THE MOVEMENT'S BENEFITS
Affordable for everyone
Periodic phone tutoring assistance and review
Complementary (helpful) to school studies
Basic communication in English between parents and children
Gradual shift into the American mainstream
Professional networking positions
My wife and I are educators and have created and developed a critical-creative thinking curriculum in the language arts (vocabulary, reading, writing, grammar, English usage) designed to train students in contextual understanding.
In the early 1990s our program was highly successful in the Korean community in Los Angeles (we have records of our substantial earnings) as an in-home tutoring business.
In the midst of this success, we decided to expand our curriculum into the Hispanic community as an after-school program at a considerably lower tuition and studybook rate. Our first afterschool pro- gram was at Wilton Place Elementary of the Los Angeles School District. It was fairly successful for a while; but for various business, and other, reasons we were not able to pursue this branch of our studies. Gradually our Korean in-home tutoring business declined mainly for lack of business acu- men. Nonetheless, our studies prevailed over the years sporad- ically, but never at the previous high level.
Since then, with considerable additions to, and refinement of, our curriculum over the years, we are presently well prepared to reintroduce our curriculum to the private sector once again to the Hispanic community in particular.
Why the Hispanic community "in particular"?
Simply put, we both emphatically believe that our critical-creative thinking curriculum is a major antidote to the reading crisis prevalent in the United States; and this is the second of two articles I've written addressing this topic.
All the more does this reading crisis undermine Hispanic students not only because of English being their second language, but because of their overall unfamiliarity with American customs, manners, family values, relationships, idioms, values and beliefs as portrayed in school storybooks, classical literature, poetry, plays, essays, biographies, and the like. Because of these cultural differences, there remains a hesitancy, if not an embarrassment, to intermingle with Caucasians; and because of these differences, there abides always, with few exceptions, an on-going personal and social separ- ation between the two cultures. It's very difficult to imagine how this glaring separation could every be bridged on a large scale; yet with a minority group slowly but inevitably, becoming the majority in a democratic country such as the U.S., something will snap detrimentally unless this separation is bridged to a considerable extent.
The obvious academic answer would be, of course, mainly through education; basic education; for however flawed it may be, it still covers the basics fairly well, enough to prepare students for blue collar trades, business, electronics, and the like, but few professions; and certainly not the human- ities
In general, our main goal is to override these reasons as best we can with our exceptional critical-creative curriculum that trains students (or anyone) to think through, to analyze, what they read and write and speak; a curriculum designed not only for English as a first language, but also for English as a second language - which is our emphasis in this present article.
In particular, our goal is to help raise the Hispanic quality of living academically, socially, personally and economically, that will project and enhance Hispanics' potentials beyond their enclosed, lim- ited, traditional and low-income/poverty status mainly as a result of the English language barrier, that without, would open the doors of opportunity for them.
Yes Hispanics are taught in English at school, they do listen to American music, they do view Amer-i can movies and television, are abreast of fashion and art; and accordingly "catch on" to spoken English Yes, spoken English, which is miles away from written English. All around them prevails spoken English, but hardly any literary or written English. And so, a whole dimension of English is lost to them. Yes, many can read technical, textbook, English in preparation for a career and gradua- tion, but lose out on the nuances and semantics and poetics and logic of the English language. Granted that countless American students are in the same situation since they hardly read anything outside of their textbook assignments if they even read them at all; yet they have the advantage of being raised in the culture and semantics of the English language, and so "fit in" if only superficia- lly; since they can grasp the intricacies of their language, if they have to, simply by being raised through their spoken influences.
Not so with Hispanics. They lack that familiarity with the subtle semantics and linguistics of English as presented in its literature, philosophy, psychology and poetry. And then there are all the subtleties of inflection, nuance, connotations that translations from Spanish to English, and vice versa, cannot capture. Of course, all this is as much the same as if an American had to live perman- ently in a Spanish speaking country.
These preliminary thoughts give an idea, then, what the mass of Hispanics are up against in adapt- ing to their adopted country as regards the English language, especially for those who aspire to the American way; yet who are held back mainly because of the language barrier. What is this American way aside from its pragmatic, techno-electronic career-wise preponderance. I suppose it could be considered the overall perspective of the humanities, or which I would condense to the intellectual humanities, that is, readings and analyses in literature, politics, journalism, philosophy, art, thea- ter, poetry all those pursuits that contribute to one's intellectual, moral, aesthetic, spiritual nature that are fairly much closed off to Hispanics so long as they have not the range of the English lang- uage that could open them to these treasures of Anglo-American thought and experience.
So, am I referring mostly to the intellectual life; and if I am, are there really that many Hispanics that aspire to such a life? Perhaps not in our times, or in any times for that matter; or perhaps there are more than we imagine there to be. How would we really know one way of the other? There are ways, I can safely say; but this essay in not the place to pursue them. The point is, intellectual life or not, it could be said that everyone, or at least most everyone, should be introduced to the intellectual humanities, not necessarily as an intellectual, but as a well-rounded educated person a cultural literacy, as it is called. But is not that what public schools offer them. Yes, partially, of course; but as we know public schooling does not, nor cannot, at this stage of education, delve much into the intri- cacies of intellectual subtleties and depths of values, argument, rhetoric, contrasts and compari- sons, analyses, syntheses, mainly because of the student numbers and distractions of public schooling. And so, those (the few) who take to intellectual pursuits are shortchanged; and those (the many) who are not so inclined are as well short-changed in their way not necessarily because they are intellectually incapable, but because the little that they can grasp, or are interested in grasping, are beyond them because their language ability has been short-changed for whatever reason. Even a plumber could understand simple logical fallacies, for instance, without being necessarily interested in them intellectually Yet if he were at least introduced to logical argument, plumber though he be, he will have some ability to recognize an invalid argument, though he may not be able to explain or refute it. This learning would be enough for him to be aware and skeptical of false argumentation made to take advantage of him. Or consider this: all students are required to take practical arith- metic (decimals, percents, word problems) so that they can function with practical calculation in their daily lives. They are required to take algebra and geometry courses even though the majority have no practical use of them in their lives; but they train the mind to think logically and clearly. Even the great Einstein said that all he learned of value from his university education was how to think; which is saying a good deal, since thinking is about the most difficult thing for humans unless, students were taught the rudiments of thinking from the beginning of their education. Then we would have something quite different than we have now and have had for millennia!
My main point in all this dissertation, in relation to Hispanic's limited English language proficiency, is two-fold: first, that even though many Hispanic students may not be intellectually inclined either personally or professionally, it would do them well culturally; so that they can fairly well follow in English the politics and social issues of their day; can follow an argument fairly well; can enjoy some theater, some classical music, some classical dance, some literature; can converse intelli- gently, open-mindedly, in such matters as human nature and relationships, history, literature, poetry, religion, philosophy, science, and the like. And second: that those who are intellectually inclined are at a grievous disadvantage, whether they're aware of it or not, by not having command of the English language to express themselves effectively enough either verbally, literarily, persuasively, conversationally, or otherwise.
So, what is be done? Where is the starting point in order to break through this language barrier? It is a thick and intricate one, and will take time and effort, will and intelligence to topple it.
Understanding is the way both contextual understanding and self-understanding. Contextual understanding leads to academic and social success; self-understanding leads to personal and interpersonal success; and both of these lead to well-being.
Who in the Hispanic community are we to reach in particular? Answer: anyone who is receptive to the struggle and challenge of change - those who have dropped out of school, those who are entrenched in gangs against their will, those who are failing in school, those who are striving to excel academically, those who aspire to a career, a profession; those who are intellectually inclined, those who love language, those whose lives are "going nowhere," who love wisdom, and nature, and knowledge, and art, and on and on.
What is this Hispanic in-depth education movement to offer these individuals who will lead the way into the Ameri- can mainstream culture; who in doing so, will bear the virtues and aesthetics of their own culture; thus contributing to the future assimilation of a new man/woman on the rise toward the gradual ascendancy of justice and wisdom over injustice and ignorance?
We start with an in-depth education not found in the public or private schools an exclusive, indiivdualized education, a training, in critical-creative thinking, both tutorially and in the class- room. Such an education will complement public education as it is. And this complementary edu- cation, though it will take considerable re-tooling and be a major upheaval, will be a major shift from the standard lecture format to a moderating format. This moderating format is actually a balance between class teaching and individualized learning.
By this moderating format, teachers coordinate their subject expertise, with the students' textbook answers; in which case students teach themselves from their particular textbook (including com- puter research, and the like), then teachers review, correct, and expand on their answers.
And how do they teach themselves? By reading their assigned material and being exercised at the same time. In which case, exercises in vocabulary, grammar, English usage, writing, comprehension are pre-set in, or to, their textbooks so that as they read and this is the key point they are re- quired to answer these exercises which test their understanding of the material. The teacher cor- rects, discusses, and expands on, these answers, which would be the basis of her teaching. This she could do as a class dynamic balanced with an individualized dynamic. An illustration of expanding on the factual-material on Napoleon might be something like: "Do you think that Napoleon's pas- sionate, stormy love for, and marriage to, Josephine cost him his empire for lack of clear, focused thinking (The teacher could provide his love letters to her) as it did for Mark Antony's all-consuming love for Cleopatra? (The teacher could briefly explain his desertion of his fleet to follow Cleopatra as she sailed away from the battle.)"
As I think of it now, and not realizing the connection, the underlying concept supporting this moder- ated process of teaching-learning can be found in Plato's intriguing dialogue, Meno, in which he explores the esoteric notion that all knowledge is a matter of recollection; that it is already set innately in everyone's mind/brain/("soul" in Plato's terms); and it is just a matter of being able to draw this well of knowledge into a person's consciousness. This Socrates does by leading an ignor- ant slave, question by question, who knows nothing about geometry, to the truth of the Pythagorean theorem. This truth is arrived at by the slave thinking his way through a mathematical problem using abilities innate within him. The clear implication is that anyone can go through the same process. Perhaps this wonderment also accounts for those individuals (not savants which is even more mysterious) who, though they can answer a complex math problem, yet cannot explain how they reached that answer.
To continue. In this innovative learning process, boredom is significantly eliminated, challenge is predominant, encouragement heightened, classroom distractions are at a minimum; and so, learning with understanding will be emphasizedly increased. Of course there are those persons who do not take to understanding and will dodge thinking in one way or another; yet even these will benefit, at least superficially, since they will be listening to their peers rather than just their teacher accord- ingly, hearsay is what they will superficially learn; but hardly the fine distinctions that can be learned effectively only through the process of critically and creatively thinking through the reading material that is, the analysis and synthesis of the reading material.
How this public school learning process is to come about with its pros and con, is not here my concern; though I must say, it can be done at least partially with the textbooks as they are. It would require of teachers to formulate the exercises themselves (with a guide, of course); and that would be a marvelous beginning leading to a new educational frontier. We can't expect this shift to occur any time too soon that is for sure; but it can be taught tutorially, either individually or in small groups, with a curriculum designed exclusively to teach critical-creative thinking. But to who?
For now, to Hispanic students in particular, since they are the ones who are in need of learning, or reviewing, English "from the bottom up," so to speak. And so long as they have to learn English in these beginning, elementary, stages, they may as well learn the language with "eyes wide open", that is, with understanding. This learning process would be to their advantage, by getting a head start in critical-creative thinking as they learn English through vocabulary, reading, writing, and speaking English clearly and precisely of course with their own unique Spanish flavor.
The critical-creative thinking curriculum available for this innovative learning process is titled Studies in Meaning, which has been taught over the years, both tutorially and as an after-school program in a few public schools.
The most I can do in this article is to ask receptive readers to assume that this critical-creating thinking education does come up to expectations, that it does work overall; and that upon reviewing it, they would be convinced that it is pedagogically sound; that students will surely benefit from such a training in higher order thinking, both critically and creatively. And if in actuality the studies proved to be what we claim them to be which we're convinced they are then we're, they're, on our way!
What then would be the next step? The actual implementing of the studies in the private Hispanic sector through the efforts of those who believe in its efficacy, and are willing to invest in its poten- tial success: educationally, commercially, and promotionally. And it is to those persons that this article appeals. It is for my wife and I to distribute the studies and to train those to the task.
Should the purpose of this article prove successful, then the studies will be on their way to improv- ing and enriching the lives of Hispanics as they move up the inclining curve of personal and social success; and thereby, eventually merging and transforming the two differing ways of life into a Hispanic-Anglo culture. It will be a slow, erratic incline, but one which will be well worth the effort, barriers, and time.
LEARNING ENGLISH FOR THEIR CHILDREN
As educators for many, many years, my wife and I have taught foreign students and adults: Korean, Chinese, and Spanish, both privately and publicly. We created and developed a critical-creative thinking program designed for students of English as a 1st language and as a 2nd language that has been considerably successful in both the private and public sectors. Our main concern has always been that students understand what they read and write.
Of late, however, our concern has shifted to a pressing issue occurring in the Hispanic population: the need for adults to learn English for the sake of their children. We've observed this issue in the past, but its urgency has escalated exponentially in the past several years, especially with the proli-
feration of internet access in the schools and libraries, with the proliferation of rap and hip-hop music in English, with the proliferation of Hispanic employment in indoor malls and fast food res- taurants outside of Hispanic neighborhoods, with the proliferation of cable television channels, and, perhaps most significantly, with all but the total demise of bilingual education in the schools, so that Hispanic children are totally immersed in English language curriculum.
As a consequence, Hispanic children are learning English at a rate faster than ever before, almost at lightning speed compared to previous generations. And it is imperative that they are learning English at this fast pace, if for no other reason than for their economic and career future. They will, and have to, in- teract with Anglos, if not so much in elementary or high school, then in college and the work force.
Being exposed to so much English, it is not surprising that many Hispanic children and youths feel more comfortable with English than with their own language. As a matter of fact, they become more expressive in English than in Spanish, mainly because of textbook reading, television sitcoms, mo- vies, teen and pre-teen magazines, music, and the like; and because of the minimal Spanish they speak in their home.
Accordingly, it is natural that they would want to speak English in the home as much as possible; and this is where the parents' involvement (duty?) comes in. They have to provide this outlet for their children as much as they are able to in their particular circumstances. This they can do by being fairly conversant in the English language themselves.
Let me give three situations, that emphasize this seriousness of this matter. In 2005, I had a Korean 5th grade student who spoke more English than Korean. He confided to me about a recurring night- mare that he was having, and that he wanted to discuss it with his mother, but couldn't, since she spoke no English, and his Korean was too limited. Another time, an Hispanic mother told me that her 4th grade son announced to her that he wanted to speak English in the home; and that she felt helpless, since she neither speaks nor reads English. She also said that speaking Spanish is hard for him; which makes sense, because the only Spanish the boy would know would be based on limited family matters. And just the other week, another Hispanic mother told me at her school the follow-ing: "I'm taking English classes in the morning, even though it's hard for me, because I have a baby; but I'm desperate to help my daughter."
These three cases give an idea of the poignancy of this communication problem.
Given this state of affairs, is it not crucial, urgent, that parents move along with this tide and learn enough English to at least speak with them in everyday matters of their children's feelings, rela- tionships, beliefs and values?
Of course, many parents take this step by taking English classes or by being tutored, or by purchas- ing English courses and they succeed in varying degrees; and this achievement is much to their credit.
On the other hand, there are many parents who attempt to learn English, but have had to discontin- ue for one reason or another it's too hard, it takes too long, is too inconvenient; classes are too far away; too much fatigue after work, and so forth. And so they give up; and so their children suffer; and so the parents suffer for their children's suffering.
Here is the worst part: if their children are not able to carry over their English in the home with their parents, at least minimally, an essential aspect of communication between them could very well break down. This aspect includes not being able to help them with their homework, not being able to read to them in English, not being able to enjoy television shows in English together. Siblings and friends will speak English with each other, thereby excluding their parents; and to their consterna- tion, their parents will not understand "what's going on." English, consequently, becomes a barrier, creates a vacuum, between them as a silent, unfathomable, distance gradually separates them. Of course, love between them will still be present, but so will a whole area of non-communication be present, as well, because of this language barrier.
That parents speak a moderate degree of English in the home for the sake of their children would not only keep communication open between them, but would make their children especially proud of them for making that effort. A further element of respect is added to their relationship. They have something in common outside of the norm, their regular family interchanges. It not need be the best literate English, it may need not require long talks in English; just the basics: "Good morning," "How was your day at school?" "Time to get up!" "Take the garbage out," "How are you feeling? and such like small communication exchanges. Of course, it would even be better, if the parents were able to help them a little with their homework, and read aloud with them; but that would be further on down the line.
What parents need in their beginning English study is a somewhat easy, quick, yet thorough, method of learning English to complement the typical English phrases and statements they learn, such as "How much does it cost?" "Where is the bank?" "Hi, how are you," "My name is " and the like.
They need to learn the basic sounds of English: the short and long vowels ( a, e, i, o, u) the diph- thongs (aw, ow, or, ar, er, oi, etc.) the digraphs (ch, sh, th), the consonants b, c, d, f, etc.) which is not that difficult to learn, overall. Once they learn these basic sounds fairly well in simple words and sentences, they then can proceed to read simple English; and so, gradually increase their Eng-ish vocabulary. They can then begin to view English television shows with their children, and read simple books with them.
But it's the basic English sounds they must learn proficiently first in simple words and sentences. Then they will be well on their way to learn English more thoroughly either on their own through reading and listening, or through English courses. but first they must learn how to read elementary English! And that is accomplished through learning the basic sounds of the language in an easy, learner-friendly structured learning process, from A to Z, so to speak.
The obvious question a reader would ask is "How is this 'easy, learner-friendly, structured learning process' accomplished?" The answer would be twofold. First, by the use of oral recordings on CDs; and second, by the use of Spanish translations for all of the multiple English exercises.
These oral recordings are unique in that the words, sentences, oral exchanges (conversational English) are pronounced and spoken slowly, distinctly, and naturally with time spaces between each word or sentence so that learners can follow along effectively.
The Spanish translations are unique in that learners are learning indirectly the basic grammar and usage of the English language through continuous repetition of common spoken and written English. These translations provide a crucial, essential, link between their own language and the English language. In brief, through these two distinctive learning processes, English learners gain under- standing of the language; not just a rote learning of it.
Furthermore, the great advantage of learning the English sounds through this method especially, is that (1) adult learners will be able to recognize the sounds in their reading, and so will be able to pronounce them, in good part, in unfamiliar words; and (2) just as importantly, will be able to recall forgotten words that they will want to speak by picturing the letter sounds in their minds until the appropriate sound triggers remembrance of the word or sentence.
And lastly, these books and recordings, if studied studiously, act as the teacher; and so no actual instructor is required; except, perhaps periodically to check adults' progress.
In closing, upon completing this distinctive ESL study, adults will have the means of "keeping up" with their children regarding American culture, and their children's future in it.
A Brief Origin and History of The Studies in Meaning
The following account was transcribed from a recording of the origin and history of the Studies in Meaning. The exposition is simply laid out as I spoke it. I decided not to edit it in the transcription other than obvious needed corrections.
I think the best idea would be to start right from the beginning with my educational background.
I quit school in the ninth grade, because I wanted to work, dance, buy clothes, be an adult, so to speak. I was 15 then in Toronto, Canada.
And that's exactly what I did for the next ten years. But during those ten years, when I was twenty years old, I started to read, and decided to study acting. I left Toronto for Los Angeles for that pur- pose. I studied acting for about three and a half years. But one morning I woke up with a sudden thought that I wanted to go back to school. This was a kind of shock to the system, so to speak. I couldn't believe it at first, since I had invested so many years in acting training, and I was about to go out into the field. I struggled with that for about a year: Should I or should I not? I went to New York to study there. And then one day, I couldn't act anymore. I was doing a scene with a fellow student chasing her around a sofa in a love scene; and the thought came to me that this was childish. This is play, and I'm not interested in play. This was my thought, and no discredit to acting. It just happened to me. I had outgrown acting. I always attributed it to the fact that I had read too much for me to be an actor. I was more interested in the intellectual life. It was over. I thought that I would be a playwright, since I was in the theatre, and I had been writing for a number of years. I tried that, but it didn't work out.
To cut it short, I returned to school. I made a couple of aborted attempts to restart school in a com- munity college; but finally about nine months later I started back to school permanently. I spent about 2 and a half years there struggling like mad to keep afloat since I had missed my high school years and was not use to studying so intensely; but what made it possible was that I had read so much since my twentieth year in all areas of literature, psychology, poetry, social and physical sciences, and philosophy.
I went from there to UCLA and studied philosophy. Since I was interested in philosophical questions, my plan was to study and teach and write in that area. Accordingly, I earned my BA in philosophy, and then went to Cal State University for my MA in philosophy. Just as I was finishing my MA requirement, I got a chance to be a camp councilor for the summer at a private academic school to help my income. The director of the school liked my work, and asked me if I wanted to teach a course of my choice for the fall semester. Interestingly, I had another sudden thought prior to her offer that ethics and logic should be taught in high school. I don't know where that thought came to because I had long dropped the idea of teaching; and education was not in the range of my interests. I was a writer, as far as I was concerned. But there it was.
So, in a sense, I was prepared for such an offer, and I immediately asked for a logic course, which she complied with. Ethics was my first choice, but I knew better not to ask for such a sensitive course. So for the year, I taught practical logic, and it was very successful.
I was camp councilor for the following summer, and during the summer she asked me if I wanted another course to teach; and on the strength of logic course success, I asked for ethics. That was a little shakier, but she approved of it. But the principal was against it, because then, and I suppose now, too, ethics was equated with religion which is not necessarily the case. so during that sum- mer there was a strong struggle as to whether I was going to teach ethics or not. The principal was dead set against it, and the director sided with her; and yet it remained an open question during the summer. Then at 11th hour, some fortuitous event happened that made her decide for it. she was at a dinner party, and a guest happened to be a college ethics professor, and he convinced her of the impor- tance of such a course.
For the next ten years, I taught both ethics and logic quite successfully without a negative incident.
On the strength of this success, during the years that I taught ethics, I was convinced that ethics should be taught in the high schools in general, and so I wrote an essay supporting this idea, and made contact with various educators and teachers to push this idea through. Needless to say, the bureaucracy, being what it is, I didn't succeed, but I came close, very close. But I lost interest after so many fruitless years and effort; and so I shelved the idea.
During those long years that I taught ethics and logic, I taught two other courses temporarily that had an influence over this overall picture of critical-thinking: a health class, which I taught for two years; and an eighth grade math, which I taught for a few years.
The math class, a pre-algebra course, I would notice that whenever we got to word problems in the text, a pall of resistance that would pervade the classroom. I could feel that I was going against the current in attempting to make them understand these problems, with the exception of a few stu- dents. So I would just touch on the easy exercises, and go on to the next computation section. This went on semester after semester no matter the type of students.
As far as the health class is concerned, there was the usual textbook and workbook. Students would read a chapter, and answer general multiple-choice questions in the workbook. I noticed that the students were not learning thoroughly at all from the reading. They would skim the reading, turn to the workbook, search for the answer in the text, and that was it. That discouraged me, and I thought, what if they answered questions at the same time as they read? That would make them learn more thoroughly. So I started writing individual questions for them that they had to answer as they were reading, and which would test their understanding of the material. I did this for three chapters, and it worked very well; they didn't resist it; and I knew what they did and did not understand. Then it got to be too much for me. I couldn't keep up with it; so I stopped.
So those were the two teaching experiences: the pre-algebra class that showed me that hard thinking was only for the few; and the health class that proved to me for the first time that have students answer questions at the same time as they read and their reading understanding im-
Now coming back to the ethics, the method in which I taught the ethics, was like a seminar. I would read a passage of the main text Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics first semester, and Plato's Republic, second semester and I would ask the students to explain the passage, and we would discuss it thoroughly. I was under no pressure to finish the book. This was with 10th, 11th, and 12th grades.
And surprisingly, considering the sensitive issues of ethics, no upsetting incidents occurred for the ten years I taught it except one girl ran out of the room in tears; but nothing more came of it. In total, the students were mostly responsive to in-depth analysis of important ethical and moral-social issues; some, of course, much more than others; and with a few such students, I formed ethical Friday night meetings with those exceptional students a few years later.
As far as the logic I taught, it too was successful. Of course, it was more precise a study, more analytical, more based on correct formal reasoning. Not only were they responsive overall, but they were capable of doing logical thinking. And I found that even the least intellectual-minded enjoyed the challenge of intellectual discipline.
One other small, but important, teaching experiences related to the importance of our thinking program. I taught a 9th grade history class for part of a semester. I remember a particular test that I gave to the class, which was the usual few questions of understanding parts of the chapters; and they have to find the answers. This one girl, who was a straight A student, in answering the ques- tions, which required only a phrase, she wrote two sentences which included the phrase, but did not indicate that she understood the question at all. When I brought this to her attention, she couldn't answer the question correctly, and she became very upset that I would even think of questioning her; and I left it as a lost cause. And in that same class, we had Chinese and Iranian students who in answering chapter questions, would memorize paragraphs, and write their test answers accordingly.
So in overview of those 11 years of teaching logic, ethics, health, pre-algebra, and history, I suppose it is not surprising that it would "suddenly" come to me that somehow we had to get the one-to-one learning into the classroom, relatively speaking. And that was the germinal, seminal, idea that took me on the next ten-year trek, to where I am now.
So, I see the interlocking relationships now between the ethics and logic that I taught, and the critical-creative thinking program that I now have.
With this leading idea, I set forth, with the help of my wife, the next two years of trying to find out how to get the teaching method, the learning process, of how to get this quality of one-to-one learning into the classroom. Or, in short, I guess without my realizing it at the time, to have students understand what they are reading. So the crucial question really came, without perhaps being able to articulate it, was: How do we get children to understand what they are reading?
And so, we both started tutoring, and making one and another various attempts, various trials and errors, trying to get this idea born through me to teach understanding.
This was in 1982, and two years later, almost to the day, I came upon the leading idea that if you want the students to understand what they're reading, then they must be exercised at the same time as they're reading, so that they know, step by step whether they are understanding the material. And to that concept, I developed worksheets with reading passages in social studies, science, literature, math-logic reasoning and values. In the readings, I highlighted in orange key vocabulary-grammar words, and highlighted in yellow key comprehension sentences no computer at that time. Students would not first read the passage and then answer these exercises, as is the standard learning pattern; rather, when they came to a highlighted word, they would finish reading the sentence, then turn to a worksheet in which their understanding of the vocabulary and grammar of that word would be tested. When they came to a highlighted sentence. They would turn again to the worksheet to have their understanding of that sentence, and previous sentences, tested. In this learning process, they are interacting with the reading material in which case they are thinking through the material rather than skimming through it; and are learning in an integrated manner, in that we were com- bining vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, writing, research, art into one study.
This was the essence, the hub, of my idea of reading with understanding. I called this integrated-interactive learning process Studies in Meaning; since ultimately, it is the meaning of what is read that has to be gleaned.
Having come upon this new learning process after two years of trial and error with our private students, it took us another two years to research, type and complete all the material for the different grade levels, from first grade through the twelfth grade; as well as various extensions of this fundamental idea of exercised while reading.
Interesting enough, no sooner were we finished all the different levels, than our landlord happened to see the studies in passing, and inquired about them. he saw an immediate money maker that was his main interest, not the education of children, as we came to see. He invested considerable money into the program, which took us from our little house in the back to a suite in an office building, from merely word-of-mouth advertising to advertising in a major Korean newspaper. Korean, because we had started tutoring with one Korean student, and through word of mouth, that one Korean family had grown to about 60 Korean students. We did some advertising in American newspaper but with no response from the Caucasians. So we stayed with the Koreans, who are avid for their children's education.
Next we decided to move into the Chinese community. In the beginning, we were quite successful, but it turned out that we enrolled more Chinese students that didn't have a functional use of the English language, and so couldn't learn from our thinking program. to amend this problem, I em- barked on developing an ESL program along the same lines as the Studies in Meaning; but it was too late. We began losing students by the droves. Next we lost our investor, and so our advertising per- son. The same story, about a business person who got greedy as he saw the money pouring in, so to speak. We went to court against him; he lost the case; but we lost our afterschools. Sharon and I were not business people at the time, and so our after-school collapsed both inside and out. Sharon went back to teaching in the Los Angeles School District, and I continued trying to market our pro- gram to others, with little or no success.
Two years passed, and I started teaching the program to Koreans again, but this time in their home. Again ,through word of mouth, the program began to be popular again in the Korean community. I stopped teaching, Sharon stopped teaching in the school district, contracted tutors to teach the program, and we both began to promote it once again.
We were fortunate enough to arrange a business arrangement with a Korean parent who liked our program enough to want to promote it. She had contact with many other Korean parents, and we gave her an on-going percentage for all the parents she would introduce to us. With her, and with two other Korean mothers, within a year, we shot right up to about 500 students in both Los Angeles and Orange counties teaching them in their homes.
During this year, we also got a foothold into the Black community through one family, who has since become our friend.
A year later, we were able to start our program as an afterschool program in one of the schools in the Los Angeles District's schools.
The next year, through the intervention of our Black friend, we got our program into a Black com- munity Magnet School.
To date, we are about to start our program in another school in the Los Angeles school district.
Only middle and upper class families can afford the tuition we need to charge to operate as a business. But my wife and I have always to make enough money so that we can afford to give our program to children who can't afford a high tuition, children who need our program even more than the other two classes.
So that's fairly much the origins and the history of our Studies in Meaning program.
When we started this search for a new learning process, this was not in the air at all in the school system back in the early 1980's. It was about in the middle eighties that the term "critical thinking" started to come into vogue in educational journals. Teachers and educators were writing these articles that something was wrong, was missing, in the classroom, which came to be known as a lack of thinking going on.
I knew it was going to take many years before America would admit, let alone accept, that it was understanding that was missing. I knew that this lack of understanding was the root of the problem. But understanding is a very broad word, and I decided to pick up on the word "critical thinking," because it is critical in as much as meaning discerning what you are reading, that first of all that in reading something, that you understand it, then to ask if it is true or is it false, is it an opinion, or is it a fact, is a subjective or objective exposition. What conclusions are being arrived at, and do the facts lead to sound conclusions. And in this sense of the word "critical," is an appropriate intellec- tual word.
Yet even this word "critical" is suspect for many people. I remember meeting a man who was very critical of our program from one side of it. He said that ,yes, my program was developing logical, analytical thinking, reasoning. but that it is reason that has turned us into one-sided individuals. There was too much reason, too much logic. In other words, what he meant was that there is not enough heart, not enough intuition, to balance this cold, cut raw reason. It told me, in effect, that what my program was doing was making people even more logical. I defended our program by pointing out that there are creative elements in the studies too -but I knew truly that there was not enough creative thinking in them. From that discussion, I added to critical thinking, creative thinking, which I now call critical-creative learning process, to show the balance between reasoning with intuition, analysis with creativity.
So the current status is the search for a program to teach critical thinking in the classroom, and as far as I know, there have been attempts many textbooks now employ this phrase "critical thinking" or "critical reading." But there has been no new learning method forwarded. My wife and I have it, but the higher-upper's don't know it.
I had decided early on, that I would never send my material to a publishing house, because all I would need is for them to reject the method, then use their own people and resources to develop something like it, and claim it as their own. We would wait until we were strong enough that they would come to us on our terms.
I have often made the statement that I believe captures the tenor of the crisis not only in education, but in human relations, as well; and that is, that there is so much knowledge yet so little under-standing. And that is true so far as it goes. And by "as far as it goes," I mean, not to underestimate knowledge; since, first, our economic and professional institutions are based primarily on quantities of knowledge, facts, statistics, computations, probabilities there is no escaping this inestimable value of knowledge; and second, not all minds are receptive to understanding.
Knowledge is a starting point for many; yet the ending point for others. A simple example would be, one person needs to understand why 9 times 3 is 27; whereas another person is satisfied with simply knowing that 9 times three is 27. He is not interested in the why or how. The facts of knowl- edge suffice for his type of mind, and it resists the next stage that leads to understanding.
So there are basically two types of minds to consider in the broadest sense in this area of learning: the knowing mind the and understanding mind. The knowing mind is the type of mind that gets along just fine on the surface of knowledge; they can memorize easily, they can track facts easily. Mass, class learning is just fine for them. They can memorize definitions, formulas, quantities of facts. They take their tests, score high, and forget it right after the test. Then there are the under- standing minds that must understand what they learn, otherwise, it's meaningless to them. Their minds resist learning and memorizing formulas, definitions, computations that have no meaning to them. And of course they can't continually ask questions in the classroom.; and so it passes them by.
So, there they are dealing with this mass of material much of which they don't understand, or don't know how to understand it. so their minds are crying out to understand this, and there is no way of doing it. so they become bitter. If they are fairly or highly intelligent, if they are fortunate enough to a have a tutor or parents who can help them, they'll get by overall; they hardly will excel if this wall of resistance prevails. They become bitter, and resent their poor education.
So, in effect, we can say that the classroom is geared toward mass, formulated education; not to- ward individualized education. And that's okay. I can understand that. You can't teach understanding in the classroom very well. There are too many distractions, or just two or three students who dominate the class intellectually; one cough, one snicker, can break down the learning process.
So it's very difficult to teach understanding in the lower grades, even in high school up until about 11th, 12th grade. so the teachers are mainly relegated to lecture and the students to note taking and reading quantity with general multiple choice questions, or fact-finding questions, or memorization. schools are trying various solutions to meet individual needs and better learning methods; but they are only ointments not solutions. The whole learning system has to be changed. There is a differ- ence between general and specific learning. With the schools, it's mostly general learning; our program is mostly specific. The school's way of learning is mostly content; our system is context. What is the context; let's look into this fact; what does it mean?
So, in answer to the second question at the beginning of this discussion: What is to be done about this crisis? As far as I can see it, I have contributed a very important answer to this question, which is our Studies in Meaning. It doesn't address all educational problems; since there is the whole issue of memorization that has to be dealt with; because no matter how much easier it may be to memor-ize something you understand, still, this merit cannot compete with those minds who can memorize like a camera. Teaching understanding, our critical-creative program is one essential answer to the problem; another answer would be to develop a memory method to help less gifted students to compete with those camera minds.
As regards the first question: A mother asked me, and I quote her exact words (which I quickly wrote down before I forgot them): "What happened? I got through school all right. I'm a successful professional person. There was no crisis before; why now in our day, has this crisis arisen regarding critical thinking? Why didn't we need it before?"
What a provocative question, to which at the time I had no answer, except the possibility that since we are living in a computer age that requires at least a logical way of thinking. Students have not been trained to think logically, methodically, step-by-step, except mathematically in matters dealing with sets and probabilities, logarithms, and such like. But again, we are dealing with a elite type of mathematical mind. Computers require language reasoning, not only symbolic reasoning. The inabil- ity of most students to solve either word problems or geometric proofs indicate the lack that is evi- dent everywhere; that makes it extremely difficult for most students to be capable of computer analysis, just to mention one area of logical thinking.
Yet, if the schools trained students from their earliest school years to think logically, critically, analytically, synthetically, then when they came to geometric proofs, algebraic word problems, computer analysis, they would not have a fraction of the difficulty that they now have and always have had.
This is one answer to the question "What happened?" because our age is so sophisticatedly scien- tific, not only technologically, in the physical sciences, but in the social sciences as well, economics in particular; since economics buoys the prosperity of a country. And since so very few minds can think on such highly complex distinctions, even in economics, it is imperative upon education to develop minds that can think critically, logically. It is a matter of economic survival.
This is why our government is so concerned with education in our day. If the schools don't turn out graduates who can think carefully and clearly not only scientifically, but wisely, then our civilization is in peril, so the pundits say.
Ethics and Logic in High School
Referring to PART IV, concerning the parent's question, "What happened?", a second answer came
to me, which was: "The Sixties happened." By which I meant, that the Sixties was the decade that young people came into their own, relatively free from their parents and elders' predominate influ- ence over their life styles, beliefs and values. And from one perspective, it was rock music that freed them in this respect, with the Beatles mainly leading the way toward a personal freedom that young- sters had never experienced before historically; and from another perspective, this movement was led intellectually by college students who, not only were influenced by rock music and its flamboy- ancy, drugs, love and peace slogans, mass group concert gatherings, and the like; but were motiva- ted to make a difference mainly by social issues, such as civil and individual rights bordering on liberation from past restrictions and dominance. It was a decade (actually beginning from the mid-Sixties). The following issues were identified as the counterculture that swept the US and most other parts of the world.
In the second half of the decade, young people began to revolt against the conservative norms of the time, as well as remove themselves from mainstream liberalism, in particular the high level of materialism which was so common during the era. This created a "counter culture" that sparked a social revolution throughout much of the Western world. It began in the United States as a reaction against the conservatism and social conformity of the 1950s, and the US government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam. The youth involved in the popular social aspects of the movement became known as hippies. These groups created a movement toward liberation in society, including the sexual revolution, questioning author- ity and government, and demanding more freedoms and rights for women and minorities. The Underground Press, a widespread, eclectic collection of newspapers served as a unifying medium for the counterculture. The movement was also marked by the first widespread, socially accepted drug use (including LSD and marijuana) and psychedelic music.
The rise of the counterculture movement, particularly among the youth, created a market for rock, soul, pop, reggae and blues music.
The counterculture movement had a significant effect on cinema. Movies began to break social taboos such as sex and violence causing both controversy and fascination. They turned increasingly dramatic, unbalanced, and hectic as the cultural revolution was starting. This was the beginning of the New Hollywood era that dominated the next decade in theatres and revolutionized the film industry.
The decade was also labeled the Swinging Sixties because of the fall or relaxation of social taboos especially relating to racism and sexism that occurred during this time.
The 1960s became synonymous with the new, radical, and subversive events and trends of the period. In Africa the 1960s was a period of radical political change as 32 countries gained independence from their European colonial rulers.
In 1968, "Women's Liberation" became a household term as, for the first time, the new women's movement eclipsed the black civil rights movement when New York Radical Women, led by Robin Morgan, protested the annual Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The movement continued throughout the next decades. Gloria Steinem was a
the gay rights movement would not come until the decade had almost come to a close.
The counterculture movement dominated the second half of the 1960s, its most famous moments being the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1967, and the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York in 1969. Psychedelic drugs, especially LSD, were widely used medicinally, spiritually and recreationally throughout the late 1960s, and were popularized by Timothy Leary with his slogan "Turn on, tune in, drop out". Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters also played a part in the role of "turning heads on". Psychedelic influenced the music, artwork and films of the decade, and a number of prominent musicians died of drug overdoses There was a growing interest in Eastern religions and philosophy, and many attempts were made to found communes, which varied from supporting free love to religious puritanism.
Significant fashion trends of the 1960s include:
The Beatles exerted an enormous influence on young men's fashions and hairstyles in the 1960s which included most notably the mop-top haircut, the Beatle boots and the Nehru jacket.
The hippie movement late in the decade also had a strong influence on clothing styles, including bell-bottom jeans, tie-dye and batik fabrics, as well as paisley prints.
The bikini came into fashion in 1963 after being featured in the film Beach Party.
Mary Quant invented the mini-skirt which became the rage in the late 1960s.
Men's mainstream hairstyles ranged from the pompadour, the crew cut, the flattop hairstyle, the tapered hairstyle, and short, parted hair in the early part of the decade, to longer parted hairstyles with sideburns towards the latter half of the decade.
Women's mainstream hairstyles ranged from beehive hairdos, the bird's nest hairstyle, and the chignon hairstyle in the early part of the decade, to very short styles popularized by Twiggy and Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby towards the latter half of the decade.
African-American hairstyles for men and women included the afro.
Manson Murders took place between 8 and 10 August 1969, which was the deaths of Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, along with several others in the Tate house. Killed on 9 August, Rosemary LaBianca & Leno LaBianca.
This outline clearly summarizes this explosion of the Sixties' youth counterculture that carried over to the freewheeling, footloose, culture of adults in the Seventies and eighties.
And how did this affect the adolescent young (approximate ages 13 through 17) in relation to their preparedness and receptiveness to both ethics and logic high school courses?
Let me relate my answer to a claim that Aristotle made 2400 years ago in his book Nichomacean Ethics, which is one of the books from which I taught in my high school ethics course.
Basically, he claimed that young people (He does not state the age range.) could not benefit from being taught ethics because of their lack of experience in life; which was basically true for his times and times all the way up to the Sixties and beyond. With the vast proliferation of information and experience in our times, not only though the various media, but through the computer and internet, which opened up the world to young people regarding human relationships, human nature, social and political issues, today's youth is all the more informed and experienced to consider ethical and logical issues and concepts; to sift out misinformation from factual information, and from misleading reasoning from right reasoning.
Accordingly, and in short, it is this current state of affairs that motivated me to initiate an ethics and logic course in high school.
The following manual is the result of my 11-year experience in teaching these two vital subjects.
For a Course In
HIGH SCHOOL ETHICS
EXTRACTS CONCERNING ETHICS FROM THE MANUSCRIPT "ETHICS AND LOGIC IN HIGH SCHOOL"
The following pages outline an extract for the implementation of a public high school ethics (or moral values) course as has been successfully taught by me for ten years (1972 -1982) at Holly wood Professional Academic School, Hollywood California.
1. Extracts Concerning ETHICS from the Manuscript "Ethics and Logic in High School"
2. Course Outline for Ethics Course
3. A Preliminary Teacher's Manual for Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
4. A Preliminary Teacher's Manual for Plato's The Republic
5. Selections of Students' Evaluations of High School Ethics Course, and Writing Assignments on
The following compendium consists of extracts from a more comprehensive treatment of parts 2 and 3 of the ethics segment of my manuscript, Ethics and Logic in High School. These extracts deal with my personal experience of teaching these subjects at the high school level, grades 10 through 12. Should some of the statements in these extracts seem somewhat incomplete or arbitrary, I would suggest the reading of the entire manuscript in order to derive a broader perspective and under- standing of this crucial subject matter concerning the teaching of moral values at the secondary level.
HIGH SCHOOL ETHICS AS A STUDY
The teaching method of the class is ethical enquiry, not moral instruction.
The class is directed from an analytical, psychological, humanistic approach.
Such concepts as happiness, virtue (or moral excellence), moral responsibility, friendship, justice, integrity, the distinction between a moral act and a moral agent, etc., are discussed in depth and in relation to practical living.
As a disciplined academic study, there is no place for sermonizing, moralizing, indoctrinat-ing, reforming,, nor the resolving of personal problems.
High School Ethics not Taught in a Religious Content
Ethical enquiry (or philosophical ethics) is not a religious study.
Moral conduct nowadays is based more on humanistic motives than on religious considerations.
Altrusim, self-realization, moral honor, moral obligation, utilitarianism, are some motives other than religious ones for acting rightly.
Religious morality is too rigid and self-denying for most of the younger generation to ascribe to.
For ethics (or moral values) to have meaning to most young people, it must be more earthward, closer to man, humanistic.
However diverse one's moral motives and incentives may be (religious or otherwise), I can see no reason why anyone cannot learn and profit by different perspectives to the same subject matter other than one's own perspective.
ACADEMIC ADVANTAGES AND RELEVANCE OF HIGH SCHOOL ETHICS
Ethical enquiry fosters the student's analytic powers through discussion and writing.
Ethical enquiry sharpens the student's readiness of mind to be better able to deal effectively with moral situations.
Ethical enquiry can and does contribute significantly to constructive, effective thinking and learning in matters closest to us as moral beings.
Our culture has reached a crucial stage in its moral consciousness which can no longer be ignored; this holds especially in such areas as equality, justice, respect, integrity, consideration.
Young people nowadays are more aware of moral and social issues than ever before; and so are more receptive, perceptive, capable, and in need of moral guidance and discussion.
My own observations of student discussions on ethical matters bear out their good sense and keen recognition of falseness and insincerity.
PROPOSED PROCEDURE, CONTENT, AND MATERIAL IN TEACHING ETHICS
Ethics cannot be adequately taught through, or as an adjunct tog, other studies, such as history, psychology, literature, etc. However, ethics can be introduced through these subjects.
The home and church, while helpful, are generally not sufficiently qualified teaching agencies to be capable of dealing adequately with today's complex and existential issues and concepts.
TWO PROBLEMS TO BE CONSIDERED:
1. The teaching procedure of ethical enquiry.
2. The question of qualified teachers.
In Reference to #1:
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, OBSERVATIONS, AND SUGGESTIONS IN TEACHING ETHICS
The teacher must recognize that not all students are interested in the subject matter, or with class discussions, for various reasons. Some students might even be intentionally disruptive.
The class has to be conducted on two fronts: (1) teaching the subject efficiently and challengingly, (2) moderating efficiently, class discussion.
Such controversial topics as religion, politics, sex, are best avoided by adhering to text material.
The teacher must be neither dogmatic, absolute, attitudinal, nor partial to any one student to the exclusion of, or fairness to, the ideas of others. Ideas, and not personalities, are what count.
Comments and criticisms of students' ideas by the teacher are to be given in fairness and respect for their efforts., however erroneous, or "ridiculous."
I begin each semester by imparting the following information to the students:
1. That the subject matter of ethics deals with moral conduct and values with which they are all more or less familiar.
2. That the procedure and progress of the course depend largely on class participation: questions, evaluations, comments, criticisms.
3. That they will doubtlessly hear ideas, and points of view contrary to their way of thinking, and perhaps not to their liking; but that If they are open-minded and objective enough, they will learn that many views can be held on one subject, that not everything is either black or white, or only as they considered it to be.
4. That they should feel free to criticize constructively text material, my interpretation of it, as well as the views of other students, without fear of displeasing the teacher and thereby jeopardizing their grades;-as a matter of fact, I reassure them that their critical comments can only benefit their grades, because then I know that they are interested, and are thinking about the material.
5. That no personal problems are to be discussed, though any personal experiences which may supplement class material is welcome.
6. That the course does not include moralizing, or moral instruction; rather, that it is concerned with what it means to be good, not with making the students good -- if that results, fine; but that is not the main purpose of the course.
7. That the two main objectives of the class are to enhance and refine the student's moral consciousness, and to clarify as well as verify his own feelings and thoughts on ethical matters.
8. That most certainly they will at first be confused by the complexities of the subject-matter; but to' be patient, and they will gradually see their way clear. I inform them not to expect hard and fast answers to the Issues that arise, and that in fact we will often leave a topical discussion more confused than when we started. I impress upon them that though absolute answers are extremely hard to come by in the realm of ethical conduct, still there are constructive answers to be had, and that our inquiries will help stimulate clear thinking when confronted with moral perplexities.
9. That they will be writing philosophical papers on text and 'discussion material, which will require precise, specific thought.
10. That the study of ethics is to understand the material rather than to memorize it; and consequently because of the difficulty of the subject, we will proceed slowly but surely.
After these opening comments, I then proceed to introduce the class to the general scope of the subject-matter by presenting various definitions of 'ethics'.
Next, I present the class with various moral problems in order to give them a feel for the complexities of resolving such problems.
As Regards Textbooks:
I briefly introduce our two authors and their works scheduled to be studied for the year: first semester, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (The word "Nicomachean" in the title refers to Aristotle's son Nicomachus for whom the book was posthumously titled); second semester, Plato's Republic.
These two unique classics of Western thought I consider to be ideal because they examine in considerable detail and with rare simplicity the fundamental problem of human conduct which in one way or another deeply affects us all for good or for ill: namely, the relationship between happiness and virtue (i.e. right conduct).
I discountenance of any textbook which presents a comparative approach to various ethical theories, because too many contrasting ideas would be too much for the student's mind to absorb sufficiently, or to derive a clear understanding of any one theory. Too much knowledge at one time would diffuse as well as confuse the beginner's mind. Besides, the object of this course is concerned not so much with expounding moral theories as it is with providing reasons for being moral. Hence the historical approach would defeat the purpose of an in-depth study of the subject.
My 10 years experience of teaching high school ethics has thoroughly demonstrated to me that, taken slowly, and in conformity with the general intellectual level of the particular class, high school students can very easily comprehend the profound and abstract thoughts of Aristotle and Plato; and that after the initial stumbling blocks in introducing the style of these authors, students generally "catch on" and continue to move fairly easily through difficult material. There is an essential procedure to be pursued here; namely: be sure that most students understand each fundamental step of the subject matter before moving on to the next.
There is material in each text that is beyond the ken of most students, and so the teacher will accordingly gauge the material to be omitted. The teacher's manual will guide them in this.
The fundamental good sense that issues from both philosophers has a very apparent and satisfactory appeal to .practically anyone's sense of right conduct.
Both Aristotle and Plato have a rudimentary, though sound understanding of human nature; so much so, that on reading them, it is evident that though moral conventions have changed through the centuries, human nature intrinsically has not.
Both philosophers indirectly deal with the crucial distinction between social morality, which varies with time and place, and moral virtues which are permanent intrinsic habits of mind and action not subject to variation of time and place.
Contrary to chronological order, I teach Aristotle first semester and Plato second for the following reasons: (1) Aristotle's treatment of the relation of virtue and happiness is an easier introduction to the subject, and (2) whereas Aristotle's study is wholly positive, Plato introduces sharp criticism to the moral life of which he. must answer, and does convincingly.
As to my manner of teaching these two masterminds, I do so slowly, and step by step. I read a passage, and depending on the range of difficulty and pertinence, I ask questions on the materials expand the topic, sometimes critically evaluate it, and answer questions and comments by the students. Once I am certain there is a general satisfactory understanding of each pertinent passage, I then move on to the next.
I do not intend to cover the whole of either book in a semester,, nor do I think it necessary to do so; since there is more than enough matter for discussion packed into practically every paragraph of these two thinkers to keep a class busy and interested through the school year.
With Aristotle, I normally cover the first two books (or chapters, in our method of book division) including the sections on the various virtues in books three and four.
With Plato, I normally cover the first part of his Republic (approximately 143 pages) Which takes us through a critical analysis of various overgeneralized definitions of justice, to the projection of an ideal society, to the definitive meaning of justice (or right conduct). Excellent fundamental psychology is included in the text.
By not being rushed to complete "so many pages each day," I am able to maintain a rather relaxed attitude, which contributes very effectively to the learning process of a difficult subject.
In Reference to #2:
THE QUESTION OF QUALIFIED TEACHERS
Properly moderating the class in an orderly disciplined manner is essential.
The teacher must be perceptive to the sensibilities of the students as well as to the topics in discussion.
The teacher must ever be alert not to inject his own personal biases or prejudices into discussion.
It is to be hoped that a high school ethics course would not only help to enhance young people's ethical awareness academically, but practically as well, inasmuch as this awareness might contribute to the improvement of family relationships. Hence, for a teacher to teach the class in such a way as to offend either the intelligence or feelings of the students would be to automatically defeat this possible purpose of improving family relationships; for he would turn parents against the course. [A briefly extended discussion (pp 64-65) on how an ethics course can help improve family relationships is presented in the manuscript.]
My experience in teaching high school ethics bears out that the first imperative for the instructor is that he teach the text material faithfully; and that when he does expand or deviate from it, always to keep the author's view in mind; otherwise the students will surely recognize, to their chagrin, that he is interested in expounding his own ideas than Aristotle's or Plato's. He is to keep his own personal feelings, opinions, biases, and peculiarities at the barest minimum.
An ethics teacher, especially, is more or less on trial by the more perceptive students until he has gained their confidence and respect. This is true of an ethics teacher mainly because of the subjective nature of the study. He or she must not only "know his business," but be able to maintain the delicate balance between interpersonal rapport and professional distance. This balance establishes mutual respect, and forms a common humanity which can inspire the students to feel that the instructor in his professional dignity is nevertheless "one of us."
As regards the professional qualifications of the ethics instructor, I would propose that perhaps the most suited would be those of the philosophy graduate who has not only specialized in ethics, but has had a comparatively liberal education. As a matter of fact, I think that a liberal education in the humanities, literature, history, science,, and so forth, is the main requisite of an ethics teacher regardless of his special field; though, of course, the philosophy graduate would be the most qualified; with the exception of social studies instructors, and perhaps even English teachers. Social studies instructors have the advantage of being trained in history, sociology, political science, and so forth, which would be an important advantage in teaching Aristotle and Plato since they both recognized the insep- arable link between ethics and politics, as is witnessed in their treatments of ethics.
In any case, trial and error I think will reasonably determine this thorny issue. One thing is likely though, and that is, that instructors who are dedicated to teaching moral values to young people, and who are sufficiently prepared with a background of research and interest In the subject, and who have foresight and sensitivity, will be successful in imparting this knowledge.
COURSE OUTLINE FOR HIGH SCHOOL ETHICS
Title of course: ETHICS
Requirements met by course:
College Preparatory x
Grade Levels: 10, 11, 12
Credit: 5 units per semester
Course is an Introductory study of moral conduct presented through the ethical Writings of Aristotle and Plato. Such topics as the nature of happiness, and the foundations and development of moral virtue will be examined and critically evaluated in light of the principles of human nature and conduct.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
To attain an enhanced awareness and deeper understanding of ethical concepts., such as, justice, right action, integrity, friendship, responsibility, honor, practical judgment, &c., in relation to personal and interpersonal conduct.
To Instill in the student a well-balanced perspective and insight into the fundamentals of human nature and behavior.
To develop a more discerning outlook of the various instances and consequences of ethical situations.
To provide a more panoramic viewpoint of moral conduct in contrast to a narrow, subjective, opinionated view.
The student will do the following:
Critically comment and evaluate text material in open discussion.
Paraphrase in writing, daily, pertinent text material.
Write a philosophical term paper on independently chosen textbook chapter.
Be responsible for homework writing assignments once or twice a week based on discussion material.
The student will be able to do the following on completion of course:
Correctly identify, explain, and spell the basic terms of the course.
Explain orally, or in writing, the fundamental insights he has gained from the course.
Be better able to evaluate ethical situations and standards.
Be more conversant with the motives and intentions underlying moral conduct.
Be able to demonstrate a more objective, comprehensive, and understanding attitude toward the basic notions of moral values in their manifold settings.
TEXTBOOKS: Nicomachean Ethics, and The Republic
Textbook: Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle (translated by Martin Ostwald, Bobbs-Merrill)
A comprehensive study of justice (or right conduct) in relation to the individual and the state.
Textbook: The Republic, Plato (translated by Francis MacDonald Cornford, Oxford)
A TEACHER'S MANUAL [Sample]
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
CENTRAL IDEAS OF ARISTOTLE'S ETHICAL PHIL0SOPHY
1. The highest good attainable by human activity is happiness which results from both moral virtue in action and of contemplation of universal and eternal truths. Happiness also requires sufficient external goods to ensure health, leisure, and the opportunity for virtuous actions.
2. Moral virtue is a disposition or habit of mind which consists in observing a relative mean between two extremes of excess and deficiency in actions and emotions. Moral virtue is not possible without practical wisdom which deals with what is just, noble, and good for man.
3. Moral virtue is acquired by a combination of knowledge, habituation, effort, and self-discipline.
4. Virtuous acts require conscious, voluntary choice motivated by right reason. Some people are more naturally disposed to virtue than others.
5. Man is morally responsible for his actions.
6. A morally strong person enjoys bodily pleasures moderately and is rot overcome by them; a morally weak person is one who pursues bodily pleasures to excess and contrary to right reason.
7. Friendship is of two general types: perfect and imperfect. Imperfect friendship is either one based on mutual utility or usefulness, or one based on mutual pleasure. Perfect friendship is ore based primarily on the goodness of character between people.
8. Pleasure in itself is a human good, but the pleasures proper to man are those which complement him as a rational being engaged in virtuous and contemplative activities.
9. A life active in conformity with virtue contributes essentially to a happy life, but the highest degree of happiness is attained by the wise man engaged in contemplation.
10. Moral virtue involves social interaction, and so favorable social conditions are necessary for moral action. Accordingly, ethics and politics are closely related, for politics is the science of creating a society in which men can live the good life and develop their full potential.
TOPICS COVERED IN THE NIC0MACHEAN* ETHICS
Book 1, Chap. 1-3: The nature of Ethics and methods of studying Ethics.
Book 1, Chap. 4-12 Extensive discussion of the nature ofHappiness as the highest good of
Book 11, Chap. 1-9: Discussion of the nature of moral virtue and its attainment.
Book 111, Chap. 1-5: The meaning of free choice and its relation to virtuous action and moral
Book 111, Chap. 6-12, and Book IV: Discussion of particular virtues.
Book V: Justice.
Book Vl: The Intellectual Virtues relating to excellence of thought.
Book Vll, Chap. 1-10: Continence (moral strength) and Incontinence (moral weakness).
Book Vll, Chap. 11-14: Discussion of pleasure.
Book Vlll and IX: Friendship.
Book X, Chap. 1-5: Further discussion of pleasure.
Book X, Chap. 6-8: Happiness as the end of human life.
Book X, Chap. 9: The relationship between ethics and politics.
The essential topics of the text, happiness and moral virtue and the relation between them, are discussed in Books 1 and 11 including an extensive discussion of the particular virtues (truth- fulness, generosity, courage, gentleness or calmness, wittiness, friendliness) in Book 111, Chapters 6 -12, and Book IV.
A well-covered one semester course will normally leave little time for further discussion of the other six books, which is just as well, since they are generally highly abstract, and I think above the intellectual capacity of most students. However, they do contain some extremely interesting and pertinent subjects, such as, friendship, pleasure, free choice, moral strength and weakness, contemplation, which the teacher can assign to the students as a term project.
CHAPTER OUTLINE OF BOOK 1 WITH SUGGESTED TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
BOOK ONE: HAPPINESS AS THE CHIEF END OF MAN
Ch. 1: The Good as the Aim of all Action
All human endeavors aim at some definite good as their end.
There is a diversity of ends, some of which are activities solely (e.g. singing), and others, products as the result of activities (e.g. a ship as the result of shipbuilding).
The end (e.g. a ship,) is more important than its means (shipbuilding).
There are as many ends (or goals) as there are actions, arts, and sciences; e.g. the end of medicine is health, the end of strategy is victory.
Some ends are subordinate to a more essential or master end, as for example, the purposes of carpentry, plumbing, plastering, painting, etc. owe their existence to the master science of architecture. Accordingly, the ends of the master sciences are preferable to the subordinate sciences.
LEADING IDEA FROM TEXT.. BOOK 1, CH. 1
(a) "...the good, therefore, has been well defined as that at which all things aim."
Suggested Topics for Discussion & Writing Assignments:
By "the good," what does Aristotle mean: (1) good as the proper end of an activity or function? (2) good as an ideal aimed for though never perfectly achieved? (3) good as being pleasurable? (4) good as being happiness?
Do "things" aim at what is good, such as an acorn, planetary motion, earthquakes, and other such natural phenomena?
What is the difference between "things" which aim at the good, and "man" who aims at the good? Consider the difference between acting by choice and natural movement, as the earth on its axis.
Consider the problem that some people seem to aim at self-destruction and evil rather than good. Is this their good?
Ch. 2: Politics as the Master Science of the Good
If our actions aim at an end which we desire for itself, and this end determines all other desires as means toward its attainment then surely this end is the good that is absolutely good.
Knowledge.of this good will be a great help in human living since we should be more likely to act rightly in particular circumstances.
It would be wise then to get at least a general idea of the nature of this absolute or highest good, and to know which of the sciences or arts it belongs.
Since politics is the most comprehensive of the practical sciences, it obviously is the study of which this good belongs. (Supplementary remarks: The purpose of politics is to create the most favorable conditions in which citizens can lead a good life, and this can only be attained by a knowledge of the good. The study of ethics, which is also concerned with human good, is a branch of politics.)
Though the good of the individual coincides with that of the community, it seems much better and more perfect to secure the good of the community before the Individual, since the community is made up of many individuals.
LEADING IDEA FROM TEXT, BOOK I, CH. 2
(a) "Thus it follows that the end good for man."
Suggested Topics for Discussion & Writing Assignments:
In what sense of "the good for man" is politics concerned? Is it the citizen's material and social well-being, or is it his personal well-being as regards his moral character, or is it his spiritual well-being? What is the difference between these three types of well-being? Which type falls under the study of ethics?
Can a person fulfill the potentialities of his moral nature without the security, the economic resources, and the educative agencies of a politically organized society? And if not, does this imply that natives of a primitive culture, without these agencies, do not "fulfill the poten- tialities of their moral nature
(b) "For even if the good is the same for the individual and the state, the good of the stateclearly is the greater and more perfect thing to attain and to safeguard."
Suggested Topics for Discussion & Writing Assignments:
What should be more important, the good of the individual, or the good of the state? Or more specifically, is it ever right to sacrifice one life in order to save many? A stock illustration of this dilemma is the overcrowded lifeboat situation.
Is it true that the good is necessarily the same both for the individual and the state? What if the good of an oppressive government is to rule by force and injustice. Is such a government conducive to the individual good? Do the people have the right to overthrow such a govern- ment if it cannot be changed otherwise, for example, by legal means or by civil disobedience?
Ch. 3: Limitations of the Study of Ethics and Politics
Precision of scientific treatment depends on the subject matter.
Matters of what are noble and just (the subjects of politics and ethics) present so much diversity and differences of opinion that to many people they exist as matters of convention and not as absolute standards of conduct resulting from human nature or from the nature of things.
Because of poor judgment, many have been harmed even by good things, as is instanced by men who are ruined by wealth, or others by courage. Thus all the more does this matter of good present much irregularity.
Because of the variability of this subject, one must be satisfied with a rough approximation of the truth, with probable conclusions from probable premises. An educated person seeks precision relative to the subject matter; he does not accept probable reasoning from a math- ematician, nor strict demonstration from a public speaker; since everyone who has been long trained in his specific field is a good judge of what he knows, and he who has been well educated in all subjects, a good judge in general. It seems to follow that the young are not properly prepared to be students of polities or ethics, for they are not experienced in the business of life which is the basis of these subjects. Besides, the young, as well as those immature in character, are too swayed by their emotions for this study to have any practical effect on them. Those, however, who desire and act according to right reason will benefit greatly from a knowledge of this study.
LEADING IDEA FROM TEXT, BOOK I, CH. 3
(a) "Problems of what is noble and just, which politics examines, present so much variety and irregularity that some people believe that they exist only by convention and not by nature."
Suggested Topics for Discussion & Writing Assignments:
Although Right and Wrong are not abstract and immutable as are the principles of math- ematics, do they nonetheless exist on by mere convention? Are there not some acts right or wrong regardless of convention or opinion murder, adultry, theft (wrong); honesty, consideration, truthtelling (right)?
A distinction should be made here between the general favorable attitude toward moral virtues (courage, Integrity, generosity, loyalty, selfcontrol, affability, etc.) which is not subject to change as the attitude of people toward shifting standards of social morality.
(b) "... a young man is not equipped to be a student' of Politics [ethics included]
for he has no experience in the actions which life demands of him, and these actions form the basis and subject matter of the discussion, moreover, since he follows his emotions, his study will be pointless and unprofitable, for the end of this kind of study
is riot knowledge but action."
Suggested Topics for Discussion & Writing Assignments:
Is it true that a young person has "not" experience "in the actions which life demands of him"? Does Aristotle's statement apply to young people of our day? Is there not a vast difference between our culture and his?
Do young people follow their emotions rather than right reason all the time? Do only young people follow their emotions; are not many adults governed by their emotions? Besides, are not many young people more mature in character than a good number of adults? Even grant- ing that a young person is especially subject to his emotions, does this fact necessarily imply that a study of ethics would be "pointless and unprofitable"? What then would be the value of a high school ethics course?
Ch. 4: Happiness is the Good, but Varying Views are Held about it
(1) The purpose, or good, of politics as a science is the highest good-achievable by action, ind this good is called by both uneducated and educated alike Happiness, by which is meant "living well" and "acting well".
(2) People differ, however, about the meaning of happiness; most think it is some obvious and tangible good, such as sensual pleasure, material well-being, or honorable status,, and so on. Often a person's view of happiness changes with his circumstances, in which case, when he is sick, he thinks it is health, and when he is poor, that it is wealth, or if he is ignorant that it is knowledge. Some thinkers have even claimed that there exists some abstract and absolute good which determines all other human goods. There are many other views held about this highest good, happiness.
(3) There would be little point in examining all the views held on the meaning of happiness, so only-those which are most krown, or which seem to be based on good sense, will be examined.
(4) As regards the method of this examination, it will proceed from arguments which lead up to fundamental principles (inductive reasoning) rather than from arguments which proceed from fundamental principles (deductive reasoning).
(5) Since this subject Is to be approached from the standpoint of what is known to us, it is neces- sary that the student of ethics have a proper moral upbringing so that he will be able to grasp the fundamental principles of ethics, which are the fourdation of this study.
LEADING IDEA FROM TEXT, BOOK I, CH. 4
(a) "...let us discuss what is in our view the aim of politics, i.e., the highest good
attainable by action... happiness"
Suggested Topics for Discussion & Writing Assignments:
In light of political history, is it true that the main concern of politics has been the happiness or well-being of the people? Is it rot more concerned with the preservation of the state regardless of citizens' happiness? Are riot a good many politicians concerned more with personal honor and with remaining in office than with the good of the state? Certainly the aim of politics should be the "highest good attainable by action"; but why isn't it?
Granting that happiness or well-being is the highest aim of politics, with what kind of happiness is it concerned: personal happiness or social happiness?
(b) "...both the common run of people and cultivated men ... understand by 'being
happy' the same as 'living well' and 'doing well'."
Suggested Topics for Discussion & Writing Assignments:
Can a person be happy who lives well (i.e. materially, healthily, comfortably, successfully)
yet who does 'not do (act) well; and vice versa? In other words, are "living well," and "doing
well" mutually inclusive for happiness?
Below is a brief selection of moral issues and situations which can be integrated into class discussion of text material, or as alternative material at the teacher's discretion.
A BRIEF SELECTION OF MORAL ISSUES AND SITUATIONS
What constitutes a truly generous act?
Is he who darts "blindly" into a burning building to save a life, courageous?
Is it ever right, or justified, to take the life of one person in order to save many?
Is it true that everything is relative, i.e. the point of view that what is right for one person is not necessarily right for another; or are there some modes of conduct that are intrinsically right or wrong?
How does honesty differ from truthtelling?
Plato held that if a person really knew what was right and good, he could not but act accordingly? Is this-true?
Is a good-hearted person necessarily a morally virtuous person?
Is it true that virtue is its own reward?
Is that which is right necessarily good; and vice versa, is that which is good necessarily right? What is the difference between the terms 'good,' and 'right'?
Why be moral?
Can selfishness ever be justified? Can selflessness, or altruism, ever cause "more harm than good"?
Consider the moral rule: "Be honest." Must this rule be upheld in all cases? Consider this situation: Does honesty compel you to return the one penny too much change that the clerk has given you, even if to do so means driving back fifty miles to the town where the purchase was made? And if not, how much money should determine whether you should go back fifty cents? a dollar? two dollars?
Consider the moral rule: "Do not steal." Are you stealing if you take something that you think belongs to you, but,as it turns out, really does not? Are you stealing if you enter the apart- ment of someone who has stolen from you and take from him your possession; or if he no longer has it, take from him an object of equal value?
What should you do if you discovered that the company you worked for was illegal? Should you just ignore it and continue receiving the income you desire and need to support your family, or should you stand on principle and resign regardless of the inconvenience and loss?
A committee of three students arranging for a dance given by their class is allowed $150 for a band. When the three find that they can get a satisfactory band for $120, they feel justified in keeping the remaining $30 for themselves. comment on this action.
Which of the following are a matter of moral 'concern? Why?
a. cheating at cards
b. cheating on examinations
d. keeping your car washed
e. stooping your car in a traffic jam simply for the fun of it and letting the cars behind you
try to get past
f. getting drunk every couple of days
g. doing two hours work for eight hours pay
h. not mowing my front lawn
Do you think you have the right
a. to open mail addressed to your son, aged five?
b. to open mail addressed to your son, aged fifteen?
c. to open mail addressed to your son, aged fifteen, marked "personal"?
The following is a sample final test on Aristotle's ethics.
1. According to Aristotle,, how does a person become just? self-controlled? courageous'?
2. Explain briefly how the mean (virtue) of self-control is destroyed by each of its two extremes.
3. Why does Aristotle believe that moral virtue is concerned with pleasure and pain?
4. What are the three essential characteristics of the morally excellent person?
5. Aristotle argues that virtue is a characteris tic (or habit) of the moral agent, and not an emotion
or capacity. Why is virtue neither an emotion nor a capacity?
6. What does Aristotle mean that virtue is a median "in relation to us"? How does th median differ
from the median in terms of "arithmetical proportion"? [An example to illustrate the difference
between these two types of median will help answer this question.]
7. How does the generous person differ from the extravagant person?
8. Aristotle says that bad-tempered people are worse to live with than apathetic people. If you
agree with him, why do you think he believes this? If you don't agree with him, give your
9. Aristotle claims that the friendly person "will be the same toward those he knows and those he
does not, toward people with whom he is familiar and people with whom he is riot, except that
in each particular case his behavior will be appropriate to he person." What do you think he
means by this?
The Republic of Plato
A TEACHER'S MANUAL [Sample]
PART I (Book I). SOME CURRENT VIEWS OF JUSTICE
CHAP. I Cephalus. Justice as Honesty in word and deed.
II Polemarchus. Justice as Helping Friends and Harming Enemies
III Thrasymachus. Justice as the Interest of the Stronger .
IV Thrasymachus. Is Injustice more profitable than Justice?
PART II (Books II - IV). JUSTICE IN THE STATE AND IN THE INDIVIDUAL
V The Problem stated. .
VI The Rudiments of Social Organization
VII The Luxurious State
VIII The Guardian's Temperament
IX Primary Education of the Guardians
§ 1 Censorship of Literature for School Use
§ 2 The Influence of Dramatic Recitation
§ 3 (398 C-400 c). Musical Accompaniment and Metre
§ 4 (4°0 c-403 c). The Aim of Education in Poetry and Music
§ 5 (4°3 C-412 B). Physical Training. Physicians and Judges
X Selection of Rulers: The Guardians' Manner of Living
XI The Guardians' Duties. .
XII The Virtues in the State
XIII The Three Parts of the Soul
XIV The Virtues in the Individual
NOTE: Parts 3 through 6 of the book are omitted in the course, as they deal with more involved philosophical topics, such as whether such an ideal state could ever come into existence, and if it can, then that state would have to be ruled by philosopher kings, who would have to have a very specialized education. But even were there such rulers, human fallibility would eventually limit them to grasp the whole of human psychology, that is, its destructive side; and so the ideal state would gradually decline, generation after generation, to unjust forms of government until finally the unjust, despotic, rulers predominate. But these despotic rulers, and their followers, all the way down to, citizens, are the most unhappy of men, simply because the wrong part of their "soul" is ruling them, either by their desiring or appetitive parts rather than their reason, which in the end, define man as human.
It is the just person who is happy overall because he has attained a relatively just balance between the desiring, appetitive, and rational parts of his soul.
So an unjust society is as much out of balance as an unjust person; and conversely, a just society is as much in balance as a just person. And since not much good can come out of the former state of affairs, it is obvious enough that a well-balanced (just) person would lead a much happier life than an ill-balanced (unjust) person; and a well-balanced (just) state would be much more beneficial to its citizens than an ill-balanced (unjust) state. It is therefore, justice that pays, not injustice, how-ever it may seem to pay on the surface, in the short run. Hence. Socrates has proved his original point.
SOME CURRENT VIEWS OF JUSTICE
The main question to be answered in the Republic is: What does Justice mean, and how can it be realized in human society? The Greek word for 'just' has as many senses as the English 'right.' It can mean: observant of custom or of duty, righteous; fair, honest; legally right, lawful; what is due to or from a person, deserts, rights; what one ought to do. Thus it covers the whole field of the individu- al's conduct in so far as it affects others all that they have a 'right' to expect from him or he has a right to expect from them, whatever is right as opposed to wrong. A proverbial saying declared that justice is the sum of all virtue.
The demand for a definition of Justice seems to imply that there is some conception in which all these applications of the word meet like lines converging to a common centre; or, in more concrete terms, that there is some principle whereby human life might be so organized that there would exist a just society composed of just men. The justice of the society would secure that each member of it should perform his duties and enjoy his rights. As a quality residing in each individual, justice would mean that his personal life-or as a Greek would say, his soul was correspondingly ordered with respect to the rights and duties of each part of his nature.
A society so composed and organized would be ideal, in the sense that it would offer a standard of perfection by which all existing societies might be measured and appraised according to the degrees in which they fell short of it. Any proposed reform, moreover, might be judged by its tendency to bring us nearer to, or farther from, this goal. The Republic is the first systematic attempt ever made to describe this ideal, not as a baseless dream, but as a possible framework within which man's nature, with its unalterable claims, might find well-being and happiness. Without some such goal in view, statecraft must be either blind and aimless or directed (as it commonly is) to false and worthless ends.
In the first Part of the Republic Socrates opens up the whole range of inquiry by eliciting some typical views of the nature of justice and criticizing them as either inadequate or false. The criticism naturally reveals some glimpses of the principles which will guide the construction that is to follow.
CEPHALUS: JUSTICE AS HONESTY IN WORD AND DEED
The whole imaginary conversation is narrated by Socrates to an unspecified audience. The company who will take part in it assemble at the house of Cephalus, a retired manufacturer living at the Piraeus, the harbour town about five miles from Athens. It includes, besides Plato's elder brothers, Glaucon and Adeimantus, Cephalus' sons, Polemarchus, Lysias, well known as a writer of speeches, and Euthydemus; Thrasymachus of Chalcedon, a noted teacher of rhetoric, who may have formulated the definition of justice as 'the interest of the stronger,' though hardly any evidence about his opinions exists outside the Republic; and a number of Socrates' young friends. The occasion is the festival of Bendis, a goddess whose cult had been imported from Thrace. Cephalus embodies the wisdom of a long life honourably spent in business. He is well-to-do, but values money as a means to that peace of mind which comes of honesty and the ability to render to gods and men their due. This is what he understands by 'right' conduct or justice.
According to Cephalus, what is right conduct. How does Socrates criticize his view?
POLEMARCHUS: JUSTICE AS HELPING FRIENDS AND HARMING ENEMIES
The argument now becomes more serious. Polemarchus, though puzzled, clings to the Ibelief that it must be right to help friends and harm enemies. This was a traditional maxim of Greek morality, never doubted till Socrates denied it: no one had ever said that we ought to do good, or even refrain from doing harm, to them that hate us. Socrates' denial rests on his principle, later adopted by the Stoics, that the only thing that is good in itself is the goodness, virtue, well-being of the human soul. The only way really to injure a man is to make him a worse man. This cannot be the function of justice.
What are Socrates' criticisms against Polemarchus' definition of justice as benefiting your friends and harming your enemies? What two absurd conclusions are arrived at if such a definition is followed?
THRASYMACHUS: JUSTICE AS THE INTEREST OF THE STRONGER
Socrates has opposed to the popular conception of justice one of his own deepest convictions. Polemarchus'" ready acceptance of this provokes a violent protest from Thrasymachus, who represents the doctrine that might is right in an extreme form. He holds that justice or right is nothing but the name given by the men actually holding power in any state to any actions they enjoin by law upon their subjects; and that all their laws are framed to promote their own personal or class interests. 'Just' accordingly means what is for the interest of the stronger, ruling party. Right and wrong have no other meaning at all. This is not a theory of social contract: it is not suggested that the subject has ever made a bargain with the ruler, sacrificing some of his liberty to gain the benefits of a social order. The ruler imposes his 'rights' by sheer force. The perfect example of such a ruler is the despot (the Greek 'tyrant'), whose position Thrasymachus regards as supremely enviable. He is precisely the man who has the will and the power to (do good to himself and his friends and.to harm his enemies.'
The discussion begins by clearing up the ambiguities of Thrasymachus' formula. The word translated (stronger' commonly means also ('superior' or 'better'; but ('better' has no moral sense for Thrasym- achus, who does not recognize the existence of morality. The superiority of the stronger lies in the skill and determination which enable them to seize and hold power. ('interest,' again, means the personal satisfaction and aggrandizement of the ruling individuals.
Thrasymachus has already shifted his ground. At first 'the stronger' meant only the men ruling by superior force; but now their superiority must .include the knowledge and ability needed to govern without making mistakes. This knowledge and ability constitute an art of government, comparable to other useful arts or crafts requiring special skill. The ruler in his capacity as ruler, or the craitsman qua craftsman, can also be spoken of as the craft personified, since a craft exists only in the man who embodies it, and we are considering the man only as the embodiment of this special capacity, neglecting all personal characteristics and any other capacities he may chance to have. When Socrates talks of the art or craft in this abstract way as having an interest of its own, he means the same thing as if he spoke of the interest of the craftsman qua craftsman. Granted that there is, as Thrasymachus suggested, an art of government exercised by a ruler who, qua ruler, is infallible and so in the full sense 'superior,' the question now is, what his interest should be, on the analogy of other crafts.
Explain Thrasymucus' view of justice. Do you agree with his position, fully or partly or not at all? Defend your position.
THRASYMACHUS: IS INJUSTICE MORE PROFITABLE THAN JUSTICE?
Socrates now turns from the art of government to Thrasymachus' whole view of life: that injustice, unlimited self-seeking, pursued with enough force of character and skill to ensure success, brings welfare and happiness. This is what he ultimately means by the interest of the stronger.
Socrates and Thrasymachus have a common ground for argument in that both accept the notion of an art of living, comparable to the special crafts in which trained intelligence creates some product. The goodness, excellence, or virtue of a workman lies in his efficiency, the Greek arete, a word which, with the corresponding adjective agathos, 'good,' never lost its wide application to whatever does its work or fulfils its function well, as a good knife is one that cuts efficiently. The workman's efficiency involves trained intelligence or skill, an old sense of the word sophia, which also means wisdom. None of these words necessarily bears any moral sense; but they can be ap- plied to the art of living. Here the product to be aimed at is assumed to be a man's own happiness and well-being. The efficiency which makes him good at attaining this end is called 'virtue'; the implied knowledge of the end and of the means to it is like the craftsman's skill and may be called 'wisdom: But as it sounds in English almost a contradiction to say that to be unjust is to be virtuous or good and wise, the comparatively colourless phrase 'superior in character and intelligence' will be used instead.
Where Socrates and Thrasymachus differ is in their views of the nature of happiness or well-being. Thrasymachus thinks it consists in getting more than your fair share of what are commonly called the good things of life, pleasure, wealth, power. Thus virtue and wisdom mean to him efficiency and skill in achieving injustice.
Writing Assignment: How does Socrates contradict Thrasymachus' statement that justice is in the interest of the stronger?
SELECTIONS OF STUDENTS' EVALUATIONS OF HIGH SCHOOL ETHICS COURSE
J. A. / Male
On a personal basis, this course has helped me to understand more clearly the underlying motives of people's actions; lt has better acquainted me with ideals of conduct, along with sound, logical arguments for their fulfillment; it has helped to give me a greater incentive to try to make sure I do the right thing, make the right judgment, and act in the right manner in my dally life; and it has enabled me to engage in intellectual intercourse, exchanging ideas and concepts with other people, while at the same time learning to listen to their opinions and judge them in an objective light.
From ny experience with this course, I would recommend it highly for anyone who has a mind eager to reach out and grasp philosophical concepts such as, justice, generosity, friendship, happiness, and the good, and can discuss them intelligently with a sense of purpose.
This course would have a profound sociological effect if it could be taught to more young people on a larger scale (that is, if it could be more widespread in the world's high schools).
Reading over what I have written, I realize that it might sound like some sort of propaganda to promote this course, but in all honesty, I cannot find a single point on which to criticize this course; I have only praise for it. I sincerely hope what I have said here will help convince people that a course such as this one can be successfully taught to high-school students as an integral part of their moral upbringing; for a better world awaits us if all students can gain the knowledge that I have from this course. I felt that the depth and range of understanding was very clear, and wasn't hidden and subdued.
G.C. / Male
Of all the classes or subjects I've ever taken, this class has by far been the most relevant, important, and meaningful. In high school I have experienced very little challenge, but ethics has brought about a real challenge In and out of class. Discussion isn't possible in most classrooms, but it is essential in ethics, and that made the course in the classroom unique. But even though writing in other classes, when at home or something, I've found no real attraction to the subject. Ethics, on the other hand, requires more effort than the other subjects, but doesn't bog the mind or make one bored. It's nicer to learn and study about oneself and those around you.
Of the varied instructors, you have been... Even though our worlds are of great differences, ethics brought about a common ground, and this made me understand you more.
I know I've gained something from this ethics class, but I can't pinpoint it. One of the things I've noticed is that now, before I do anything like making decisions, I think twice before doing it (or not doing it.
I feel that when we talked about the elements of the soul, it helped me understand myself better. I've noticed I don't get really angry anymore, and instead of criticizing things (and people), I try and find what makes them tick, and why.I have negative reactions about them. It also makes me look at myself, and try to find out what makes me tick.
About the "Justice" part of the course, I've always heard as a little girl growing up that "crime does not pay." I always thought: Then how come people get away with it. This course has made me take a deeper insight on it. I think if everybody could understand this [Plato's theory of the nature of justice], there wouldn't be as much crime and violence. That's why I feel the government should use this course in their rehabilitation programs. Seriously.
M.A. / Female
When I first started ethics, I didn't really enjoy it, because I didn't understand what was going on, or what was being said. Because I was not used to the style of writing. I was used to understanding everything I read without having to read it over. But in this course, even if you didn't want to really put that much attention to what was going on, the reading caught my mind, and I wanted to under- stand it. After awhile it became more and more interesting. I wanted to know what was being said, so I put attention to everything that was going on. But I still didn't find lt easy reading over and over. I kind of had to read between the lines, and that made it easier.
At this point, I can think better; it's not so much that, but that before I want to do something or make up my mind about something, I think about it a whole lot more than before. I give reasons for my actions, and I ask for reasons for other people's actions. I don't want to accept things so fast; I want to be sure. I just feel that ethics has helped my way of thinking.
C.F. / Female
This class has been an eye-opening experience for me because it has given me and others the chance to discuss and exchange things I have been thinking and wondering about for some timee.. Because the subject is so contemporary and meaninpful, even though Plato's Republic was written over 2000 years ago, I found it interesting and the course instructive. The systematic and logical exploration of the various ideas and ideals that accompany the concept of justice has helped me to more clearly define and examine my own ideas about justice and related concepts. In some ways my ideas became wore liberal (for example, in judging other people), and In some ways they became more conservative (as in solidifying and substantiating my concept(s) of justice). Participation in this course has made me more critical of what I read and hear, and has contributed to my growth as a human being.
The only negative points I have to make is, that sometimes the teacher dominates the class too much and does not really hear what we're saying. Sometimes also, some students who do not grasp the whole context of ideas, bring up totally irrelevant and unimportint questions that are dwelt upon too long. [NOTE:Though I directed the students not to include a teacher evaluation in their papers, some nevertheless did as is evident in this paper. The reason I did not delete this particular statement is to indicate one area in which an ethics teacher can lose perspective of the proper balance in conducting the class.]
Except for these two points, I find the class interesting and challenging. I recommend taking it as part of the permanent curriculum.
M / I Female
What I got out of ethics is a better understanding of things I have thought of at one time or another. The way the class is set up (discussion) gives everybody a chance to get different views on a point, and that is what helps to clear things up; but it also leads to confusion at times. On some days, I was bored because I felt everyone was talking in circles about things as obvious as "The grass is green," while on other days, I got something out of what was being said.
Although I liked the subject of Justice, I felt that Plato's Republic was too wordy, and took unnecessarily long to get to the point at times which made me prefer Aristotle.
G.R. / Female,
As far as I'm concerned, this ethics course has been the most stimulating class I have ever attended. It has been something new for me, although I have always enjoyed this kind of discussion class. It raises for debate the conventions we have of the way life should be lived. It has brought me the knowledge of some of the wisdom of hundreds of years ago. Because it is an elective, the majority of those who take it are kids that are really interested In meaningfully spent classtime; and I have found that the subject matter provides that meaningfulness. I appreciate having a course that Is interesting, challenging, and fun. Plus, it offers me an opportunity to get the feeling of a course I might enjoy In college. I have truly enjoyed the time I have spent in this class, and I feel benefited because it has made me more aware of myself without my ever realizing it. Aristotle was a man I truly enjoyed getting to know, for he presented subject matter always fascinating to explore: human beings.
B.M. / Male
Ethics was the most enjoyable class I have ever taken. It's so different and fresh compare to all the other high-school subjects. It's a course where you understand the subject matter instead of memorizing it. The way it is written may be confusing because of how long ago it was written; but a teacher that knows it will explain these parts ...
It takes a keen mind to evaluate and digest what this course expounds upon. It presents an understanding of the way society works and brings to light how everybody might react to things occurring throughout their lifetimes.
The teaching method is straightforward and hard to improve on, maybe refining but not altering.
G.G. / Male
The ethics course did not, of course, change ny life, but it provided me with a sort of evaluation system. In other words,, many situations I have been in, instead of acting immediately as I would earlier, I now give it more thought with a little more analysis. I have been a little hasty at judging others. I find myself looking deeper for the reasons behind their actions. Before acting in a way which might benefit or harm someone else, I think: "Is the 'benefit' really helping them, and is the 'harm' really hurting them?" Possibly the benefit will turnout .to be like giving a kid candy a lot; although he will be happy and grateful (most of the time) it has a bad outcome for his teeth. Thus the 'benefit' becomes,in the long run, a harm.
I also received knowledge for its own sake from the course: some historical facts, something about the wit and wisdom of Aristotle and Plato. I don't believe you could change a person's life With the course but at least the people who participated came out of the course with a little deeper understanding of human nature. The course is also good In that lt clears away idealisms from the minds of most of the kids who take the course. It is nice to think of the idealistic world and believing in it, but it is an obstacle to human relations. Knocking down these idealisms is a step in growing for the mind, and I think it was a step which the ethics course helped us achieve.
NOTE: The next few papers are not evaluations as such, but are responses to an extemporaneous question I asked my present students who are now near the end of the first semester of the year-long ethics course. I think it important to include these papers, because they answer Aristotle's strong point that young people are not fit for a study of ethics, since they are governed by their emotions.
The question I had them answer was, "Granted that young people are governed more by their emotions than right reason, what then is the value of an ethics course?"
The value of an ethics course remains even though it may be true that young people are governed more by their emotions than by right reason. Often enough, we wonder "why we are here"; other times we wonder "What's the good of this or that?" The study of ethics gives us a better under- standing of our higher nature, and may be helpful in answering some of our questions. There have been many times when I have wondered, "What makes an act right?" In fact, I have for many years thought about such "right and wrong" moral questions. Ethics is helping me find some answers.
The study of ethics does not demand that we act ethically. It simply gives us a better awareness of ourselves, and of others. Then later in life, we can act well and thoughtful with a better understand- ing of why and how. In a sentence, there is nothing wrong in listening to a man [Aristotle] with thought provoking ideas.
P.M. / Female
Assuming that it is true that young people are governed more by the emotions than by right reason, young people's emotions are based on facts the way they were brought up, and these facts may often pertain to right reason; if they do not, young people may still get something out of an ethics course. I think that some logic and truth is bound to sink in at least a little; and though young people are mainly governed by their emotions, they are not constantly governed by them; therefore, they have little gaps where Aristotle's words may seep in. Also, though young people may be governed now by their emotions, most will grow out of it, and then all the heated arguments will not be wasted. Heated arguments have a way of sticking in the mind; and so you can go back and sift through them and get facts pertaining to the present problem, and suddenly it dawns upon you that Aristotle had some decent points that do pertain to your life.
I do not think young people are governed by their emotions the majority of the time. Our society has brought us up to grow up in the mind much faster than in earlier cultures. We have many ideas which are new and relevant, at least to us. In class they are often brought up in discussion, and we are able to hear other students' opinions. Normally, when talking to friends, there is never any rea- son or opportunity to discuss our abstract ideas. Aristotle's views are the straight path, and ours, the winding ones. Interestingly enough, ours often cross and intersect his. That is why I believe the ethics course can, and is within the understanding of young people, and is of some pertinent value.
Yes, I believe that they are governed more by their emotions than by right reason. Because a lot of times when you're young You don't tend to use your better judgment as well as you do when you're older.You let your feelings and emotions get in the way. The best example is love. When you're young and in love, you can do some foolish things, and you can get hurt; but nothing can stop you from it. Your emotions overrule. Whereas, when you're older, you're more mature, and-you know better. The value of this course is to help you realize that emotions do get tn the way, and it helps us reason things out so that when we get older we don't keep making the same mistakes over and over.again without even realizing that there were mistakes. Moral standards and conduct help us exercise our virtues; this way we can see things more clearly, and with an open mind.
If young people lack the proper judgment of rationalizing maturely, and let themselves be totally governed by their emotions, then I am sure the student will not likely benefit from this class. But if the student is able to comprehend some of the things Aristotle says, then this class will help shed a little more thought and inner knowledge as to what lt means to be truly mature as in adulthood. Since Aristotle basically talks about morals to mature people who have already dealt with these experiences in life, the young person can basically gain a pictorial knowledge, thus giving him something to strive for as an example on his way to full maturity. That's all the benefit I can see.
The list of books given below is not Intended to be exhaustive., but contains suggestions for further reading and study in preparation of both an ethics and logic class as set forth in this work.
Aquinas, Thomas St. Commentary on the NICOMACHAN ETHICS. 2 vols. Henry liegne Gompany, 19-647-
William, F.R. Hardle. Aristotle's Ethical Theory. Oxford Clarendon, 1968
Joachim, H.H. Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics. Oxford, 1951
Ross, Sir David. Aristotle. UniversityPaperbacks, 1964
Stewart, J.A. Notes on the Nicomachean Ethics. 2 vols. Arno Press, 1973
Veatch, Henry B., Rational Man: A Modern.Interpretation of Aristotelian Ethics. Indiana University Press,
Walsh, J. and Shapiro, H., Aristotle's Ethics: Issues and Interpretations. Wadsworth Publishing Co.
Bloom, Alan, The Republic of Plato: Translated with Notes and an Interpretive Essay. Basic Books
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Because logic is so closely allied to critical thinking, and because critical thinking is the central motif of this website, and because the visitor to this site most likely will not read the complete manuscript, Ethics and Logic in High School I've decided to post the entire logic chapter rather than offer an abridgement or outline of the logic part of my manuscript.
As I forsee it in the future of education, critical thinking as a school subject in itself will be taught in the primary and secondary grades, whereas practical logic will be taught at the high school level.
To write now In support of a logic class in high school after the extended account given on an ethics course might seem somewhat anti-climactic; yet I feel that logic is also an important study relevant to the advanced level of intelligence of young people in our generation. I will try to be brief and to the point as possible, since much of What I have written in support of ethics applies also to logic.
I have mentioned already that adolescents are more informed and articulate on current events and human behavior than ever before. But that they are more informed and articulate does not auto- matically mean that they are more analytical and precise in their thinking and study habits. They
are more critical, more skeptical, yes, but these do not make them more logical in their thought patterns. is a matter of fact, their comprehension generally lags far behind the stockpile of informa- tion they have acquired mainly through the mass media. Young people today are accustomed to receiving much of their knowledge through an admixture of pictures and the spoken word (televi- sion, cinema), and accordingly they have little difficulty comprehending many of the ideas presented through this medium since they are presented pictorially and in the least complicated verbal manner. There is no denying that this form of learning has its advantages; and there is much truth to the saying that "one picture is worth a thousand words"; but one "picture" will not teach a person to read, much less understand one sentence.
I have had long enough experience as a private tutor to know that without good reading habits, all the pictures and film in the world will not teach a student how to think and comprehend effectively. For one thing, with film, the individual is fed the necessary images to understand a particular situa- tion,, or body of knowledge, and so does not have to make the effort to visualize, reflect, or think through it himself. Consequently, through the years, his imaginative powers can become stunted if his viewing of film is not supplemented by reading. Understandably, reading will be boring and unprofitable for him; for he will not have developed beforehand the ability to imagine, and more importantly, he will lack an appreciation of -meaning which is the alpha and omega of a fine and clear understanding of the printed word. The disimilarity between learning through images and learning through reading can be simply illustrated by the immense difference between viewing a film of Tolstoy's War and Peace, and reading the majestic novel itself with its wealth of literary description, characterization,, human behavior, philosophic import. So very much of these aesthetic experiences are lost in any film version.
Knowledge, then, received almost exclusively through the medium of television or the movies, while they are important sources, cannot teach the individual to think cogently about the knowledge he receives thereby. Such information has to be amply supplemented by reading matter in order for one to fully comprehend and be articulate with the issues. Without an adequate vocabulary to express oneself, without the ability to grasp and phrase intellectual ideas, the individual is intellectually
helpless regardless of his intelligence and the extent of his information.
Another deterrent to clear thinking is the strong feelings and emotions with which young people are especially beset. Trues this is a fact of adolescence, but the sooner students learn to control the emotional side of their nature where lt can interfere with straight thinking in everyday affairs, the sooner they will be capable of making sound decisions which can be very serious to their lives. This intellectual discipline permits them to see through the faulty and beguiling reasoning inherent in so much of the half-truths and deceptions to which we are all exposed. Language is slippery and replete with pitfalls; the unscrupulous take advantage of this, and the unwary suffer for it. So, as advanced and sharp as young people may appear in our day, still they generally do not possess the acuity of perception to penetrate through faulty reasoning, their own and others. They may sense that something is wrong either in their reasoning or another's., but normally would be unable to identify the flaw. Words are used ambiguously and vaguely, and conclusions are hastily arrived at or through slipshod reasoning, mainly because the meanings of words are not fully understood and so remain shadows for many people; and because of this, words are not used precisely; and because of this, their ideas and concepts remain unclear; and because of this, statements are frequently mis-
understood; hence their reasoning is generally fallacious on relatively complex issues.
It is one thing to know the general facts of a particular situation, and certainly another to apply the proper words to the meaning of these facts; and still another to have a clear conception of the re- relationship these facts have one to the other; and still another, to arrive at a sound conclusion based on all these facts. So, while I may know some of the facts behind an alleged unjust war to contain communism, or any other destructive ideology, I may completely misunderstand the differ- ence between a war to contain communism per se,, and simply an unjust war. I could very well not even comprehend what it means for a war to be unjust, or even what the term "unjust" really stands for. With this confusion in my head, how would it be possible to reason correctly, to discuss the matter significantly? I know the facts, but I fail to understand the meaning of these facts.
These few comments may give some idea of the gap between knowing something and understanding it; and that it is the careful analysis of the facts as well as an adequate understanding of the terms representing these facts which make possible sound reasoning. And,of course, all this requires careful thing the most difficult thing in the world.
We might say in a very general way that it is at the college level where students are trained especially to think, i.e., to digest, assimilate, and reason through learned knowledge. To succeed in college, the student must not only read and memorize, but he must also think specifically and rigorously. As a matter of fact, this is one of the primary functions of higher learning; and as Einstein said somewhere: The one important advantage of university training Is that it teaches one to think.
In the secondary schools, however, the emphasis is largely on storing the student's mind with facts, on the memorization of these facts, and hopefully, on inculcating some understanding of these facts. Thinking, reasoning$ through complex ideas, while it is a part of high school education, is not its primary function; since before the student can think and reason effectively, he must have assimi- lated much information (often confounded with much misinformation) as the data for reasoning.
But many, high school students today are more than ready for deeper mental investigation and assimilation, and eagerly welcome the opportunity for enlightenment. This status is, of course, due in large part to the immense effect the mass media has had on the younger generation, as has been discussed in part one.
As I have mentioned, there is some extent of reasoning and rigorous thinking taught in secondary education, such as occur In mathematics, science, and written expression of complex literary meaning. Given this fact, the obvious question is: What more would be needed to help prepare students for college and for life? Why add a logic course to the high school curriculum? Surely students can wait till they reach college before they study logic. I think I can best state my case by concentrating on the two essential studies of mathematics and English (grammar, composition, and literature).
Since geometry is the branch of mathematics most related to logical reasoning, I will use it as the basis of the following comments - though these comments also apply varyingly to algebraic and scientific reasoning (chemistry, biology, physics). The first thing to be said about geometric rea- soning is that it entails a highly abstract and complex language of postulates, axioms, theorems
and methods. To understand and apply mathematical language, the student must understand language itself well; and this, first of all, requires a relatively extensive vocabulary and reading background, and second of all, a strong understanding of syntax and the semantics of meaning. Without this linguistic background, he will hardly be able to comprehend the language of geometry regardless of his natural aptitude for the subject. For example, take these two theorems from elementary geometry: (1) Congruence of segments is an equivalence relation, and (2) Given a correspondence between two triangles (or between a triangle and itself), if two angles and the included side of the first triangle are congruent to the corresponding parts of the second triangle, then the correspondence is a congruence. Now, what average intelligence is going to even come close to understanding such highly abstract and sophisticated language? "Equivalence relation,"
"a correspondence between two triangles (or between a triangle and itself)," "two angles and the included side of the first triangle" a comprehension of these abstractions takes an exceptionally firm grasp of the language in which such concepts are cloaked; which is only the first requisite. The next requisite is the more or less native ability in applying these theorems in a logical, deductive, step by step proof after the insight to the problem has been perceived. This latter requisite excludes possibly 75%, more or less, of the student population. And so in the absence of this type of mind, even an excellent understanding of the language will not guarantee the highest results in geometric reasoning. I mean that while an individual may have a fine command of the language, he might not be able to reason mathematically, i.e., in symbols and figures. For him geometry is one mass con- fusion, and can have little or no influence on his reasoning powers in practical or methodical mat- ters. In fact, his reasoning can be just as affective, if not moreso, than the mathematical minds In practical, pragmatic issues, as in psychology, rhetoric, economics, philosophy,, ethics, anthropology, and so forth. However, it is true, that when he leaves the secure grounding of concrete thought in an attempt to soar to the abstract level of pure mathematics, science, and symbolic logic,he does not stand much of a chance next to one who is mathematically trained.
It is true that geometric reasoning is logical in structure, and modern geometry textbooks usually include a section or chapter on logic in order to establish the essential relationship between the two disciplines. But the logic touched on in these books is mathematically designed for formal, not practical, analytical reasoning. Certainly, formal reasoning is of inestimable value, but not all logical reasoning is formal (abstract). The logical principles of reasoning are as effectively appli- cable in analytical, methodical, persuasive disciplines as philosophy, psychology, sociology, rhetoric, law, and Political science, to name a few. The logic behind musical composition, literature,painting, and sculpture, does not require mathematical reasoning; they have a logic of their own; which is not to say that this logic is unrelated to the logic of mathematics, less the symbolic, deductive proce- dure of mathematics. Freud's theories required no mathematical reasoning, nor did Darwin's, nor Shopenhauer's, nor Aristotle's.
This then should cover the practical limitations of geometric, and scientific reasoning in general; as valuable as it is in its own sphere, and in its contribution to sound thinking, still it has little or no relevance and applicability to reasoning through the complexities of our language as used in every- day, practical thinking. And I need not say how vital this form of reasoning is to successful living. There are many advanced, intelligent students who possess a fine perception into language and human, motivation, and who I feel need an opportunity to refine this perception into straight, sound thinking. I do not think the language of geometry can contribute practically to this need for the average bright student, since, for one thing, so many have little or no inclination for mathematics in general. There should be an alternative study in reasoning; namely, practical logic.
Now what of the study of English grammar, composition, and literature? Are these studies ade- quate and challenging enough to satisfy the intellectual and practical needs of young, alert, and inquiring minds? Well, they come closer than geometry) but still not close enough, if English teachers will forgive me for saying so.These studies, while they contribute significantly to clear thinking and contextual understanding, and writing, of the English language, they nonetheless contribute only minimally to clear reasoning. And there is an important distinction between thinking and reasoning. Memorizing is thinking, but is surely not reasoning; imagining is thinking, but not reasoning; absorbing facts through reading is thinking, but not reasoning. Reasoning involves the understanding ("getting the point") of arguments, of effectively thinking through a series of state- ments (premises) to a conclusion, of detecting the various uses and misuses of language, of recog- nizing the various connotations of words. Certainly, successful reading requires understanding of word meanings and varying complexities of phraseology, as is learned in English studies; but there is also written material that can be understood only from careful reasoning from one fact to the next, and simply knowing the meaning of the words is insufficient for comprehension: understand-ing of syntax, connotation, and inference are additionally required. In reference to this distinction, I remember someone remarking when he attempted to read the philosopher Kant: "I understand all the words he is using, but I don't understand the way he puts them together."
Thus, besides thinking and understanding, reasoning and the semantics of word connotations, are, I feel, essential to the education of our youth of today; and at an earlier age than college, mainly because as I have stated repeatedly high school students are simply more informed and knowl- edgeable than ever, and that this knowledge has to be given expression and be refined two or three years before they reach college. I might almost say that the 13-year olds of today are the 15-year olds of a generation ago; that the 15 and 17-year olds of this day are the 17 and 19-year olds respectively of a generation ago. Theoretically, the youth of today are two years in advance of the young of twenty years ago so far as knowledge and social consciousness are concerned.
In recognition of this generation difference of youth advancement, the schools have introduced into the curricula such "relevant" courses as psychology, anthropology, sociology, black studies. This certainly is a step in the right direction, noting that with one or two exceptions, most of these courses are social sciences; and as the term "science" implies, there comes with such courses a body of set, methodical knowledge, replete with technical terms. For the student really to benefit from and contribute to class discussion, he has to be considerably familiar with these terms, theories, and methods; and generally he is not, since extensive reading is necessary for such knowledge. Regardless of these exceptions, I am sure there is ample material for discussion depending on how creatively the subject is taught; and such courses certainly are "relevant" as far as man in society is concerned but, then, so also are history, literature, art, government (normal elective courses) concerned with man in society. How do the innovative courses differ essentially from the latter when they can both be open to discussion if the teacher io creative and dedicated?
In any case, I do not mean to deprecate these innovative courses, but only to indicate that they still do not serve the same purpose as a logic course does; namely, as a study in straight logical thinking. There is hardly anything bright high school students enjoy more than a vigorous, intellectual discus- sion. They have a good extent of knowledge, experience, and observation that they would like to express, to test, to boast of. As discussed in the first part of this book, ethics is an ideal course for this dialectical form of learning; and so also is a logic course, not only to learn to think clearly and rigorously as a body of knowledge, but to display what they know logically themselves which very often is surprisingly sharp and perceptive.
I believe and know as a result of eleven years of teaching logic, that high school students are more than ready to be introduced to the discipline of straight, logical thinking before they reach college level, and in some cases long before; for I have had a number of ninth grade pupils who have been as logically perceptive, and in some cases more so, than many twelfth graders. I have always been amazed at their precociousness, especially since I use a college textbook. I have found that, gener- ally speaking, if a student is a good student overall, he will profit from such a course, and will enjoy it regardless of its difficulties; it makes no difference what grade he is in at the time, ninth through twelfth. An average, or below average student as a rule cannot keep up with the subject; it is too far beyond his comprehension level, as are many of his other courses. It is a commonplace that many students who excel in mathematics have difficulty in English and social studies courses, perhaps because of lack of interest; and vice versa, those who excel in English and social studies, normally do not in mathematics, again, no doubt because of lack of interest. But I have found that both types of students generally do well in logic, and enjoy its challenge.
At this juncture, I should emphasize that by logic I refer to traditional logic (which I will explain forthwith),, and not symbolic or formal logic as taught in the colleges and univerities. Symbolic logic is essentially mathematical reasoning employing linguistic symbols in its method of deduction rather than mathematical symbols. With the exception of a cursory treatment of the methods of traditional logic, professors normally pass over this area with the attitude that it is too elementary for sophisticated students of higher learning. This attitude, I believe, is in grave error, because there is no course taught at the high school level which would mentally prepare the average student for the more advanced study of formal logic. Were there such a course, then the professors would be perfectly justified in their attitude.
Before going further, let me briefly explain the subject matter of traditional logic. In the first place, it comes down to us from Aristotle who founded the science of logic. This form of logic is primarily concerned with correct reasoning in language as it is used in everyday discourse, and not in symbols as the name "symbolic" logic signifies. Such a study critically analyzes the uses and misuses of language as it is excercised in argumentation, fallacies in reasoning, proper definition of terms.. and the various valid and invalid forms of the syllogism (All men are mortal, I am a man; therefore, I am mortal.). Also included in traditional logic is the study of the scientific method of reasoning, the principles of probability, and to some extent, the semantics of word meaning, especially synonymy. This traditional logical training serves the purpose of developing a constructive approach to sound, practical reasoning.
This is the traditional procedure of logic and language I believe is needed in high school. Such a course inevitably improves and enhances the analytical and critical powers of the interested student. What more could we ask from an academic course? Through my years of teaching high school logic, I am continually amazed at students' perception and insights into word meaning, into the sense of complex statements, and in their general reasoning ability. Without the least exag- geration, I am continually taught by them. I furnish them the initial information, technical terms, procedure, etc., and they take it from there. This has been true for each of my different logic classes, with the understanding that one class may be more or less alert than another. They are truly capable; eminently so.
My belief, and defense that high school students are more knowledgeable than ever, and so are ready earlier for a course in critical thinking, are not merely theoretical imaginings, but are founded on the facts of my years of experience and observation in teaching the class, as well as, of course, source material research. Offer alert, intelligent students a challenge to think critically, analytically, speculatively, and they take it avidly. They love to sink their teeth into intellectual matters, to question, criticize, expose faulty reasoning that of the teacher not excepted to argue construc- tively, even just for the fun of it. By offering them this opportunity to express themselves, they are able to test their ideas under fire, to learn their mistakes in reasoning, to be more conscious of word meanings. Another point: when they become alert to the faulty reasoning in others, they become less prone to make the same mistakes themselves. And most important, is the fact that logic and especially so with ethics gives the student the opportunity to express himself, to be taken seriously, to contribute to the progress of the course. When he is shown to be right or insightful by his teacher, he can truly feel a sense of gratification and self-importance, that what he has to say means something, is accepted and respected; he is somebody then, and not merely a boy or girl who should listen, be seen and not heard. A logic course can offer this latitude to the student. Together, both logic and ethics studies can contribute significantly to the young person's heightened aware- ness, understanding, discrimination and sensitivity to the complexities of social intercourse.
As for the procedure of the course, as with ethics, I believe it should be taught slowly and thor- oughly so that most of the students understand each segment before passing on to the next. This is crucial, because once they have been left behind, they will not be able to keep up with more advanced material; but, of course, this is the way it is with most academic subjects. The teacher should be concerned more with what little they understand fully, than with quantities of material of which they understand little. This, as we know, is the quantity/quality dichotomy; but in logic, as with ethics, it is especially important that the student receives the quality of the course, since, for one,thing, the purpose of logic is to teach one to think and reason clearly and cautiously, and this simply cannot be achieved at a fast teaching pace; and for another thing, it should be kept in mind that the course is designed for them as their own intellectually involved subject-matter; if that is the case, then why run away with it?
The textbook I have been using, and which has been used in college for the past twenty years is Irving Copi's Introduction to Logic. It is a difficult book even for the better students, but with expo- sition is understandable to them; and this is another reason why the class should be taught com- paratively slowly, similar to a college seminar. A criterion to follow would be that what the univers- ity or colleges teach in one semester(or quarter, as the case may be), a high school course should require a year to teach. I recommend that the first semester cover the first four chapters dealing with logic and language; and the second semester cover the chapters on syllogistic reasoning, chapters 5 through 7; and whatever time remains of the semesters introduce the student to symbolic logic, chapter 8.
I include in my teaching of the course the important study of the semantics of word meanings through synonymy. Approximately three times a week I discuss the various fine distinctions between words of similar meanings, i.e., synonyms for example, the distinctions between such related words as 'trade,' 'craft,' profession'; between 'beautiful,' 'lovely,' 'pretty,' 'cute'; between 'ambition,' 'aspirations,' 'emulation,' 'competition.' I find this area about the most popular and enjoyable part of the class. After the distinctions have been made between a group of related words, the students are assigned to write sentences indicating the fine differences of meanings of the words. Though this area of my logic class is not treated in our textbook, nonetheless, the importance of such a study is obviously implicit in it, especially in chapters 2 through 4. I will list the various books of synonyms which present essays of synonymous discriminations in the bibliography. As a last word, the value of synonymous discrimination is that the study enhances the individual's appreciation of word meanings, sharpens his power of discrimination of the subtle connotations of words, improves his vocabulary and writing, and finely tunes his understanding of intellectual ideas. Since I have written this, my classroom experience has convinced me even more of the truth of this statement.
As I did in the ethics treatment of this book, I will include (1) some representative student evalua- tions, which will give a good idea of the course's benefit to them; and (2), a course outline as sub- mitted to the director and the principal of Hollywood Professional School.
In closing, I would suggest that both ethics and logic be electives, and not required courses. The very nature and purpose of these studies do not blEnd into a mandatory system.
Students' Evaluations of High-School Logic Course
M. M. / Male
As a student of logic, I have become more aware of mistakes that I, and others too, make In their arguments. Sometimes I read material and detect errors in reasoning and although I may not know at first what is wrong with the reasoning, I can usually pinpoint the mistake after I have broken down what is being said, and have analyzed it.
I can see why an introductory course in logic would be helpful to everyone,, no matter what his interests in life may be, because thinking and reasoning are part of everyday life. Many professions such as law, advertising, etc., involve a great deal of logical reasoning. The following example, which is taken from our textbook,, is one type of fallacious argument that may occur In a court room:
Investigator: Did your sales increase as a result of your misleading advertising?
Investigator: Aha! So you admit that your advertising was misleading. Do you know that your unethical conduct can get you into trouble?
The error in this argument Is that the investigator asks what in known as "complex question." This type of question cannot be answered by a simple yes or no answer such questions presuppose that a definite answer has already been given to a prior question that was not even asked. In the inves- tigator's first question, the prior question (which wasn't asked) may have been, "Did you use mis- leading advertising?" and the presupposed answer was yes. To answer a complex question, a per- son must break down and answer each part of the question separately.
A.M. / Male
Most of the students enjoy the class, but this is not to say that it is easy. The material does require a fair amount of concentration in order to understand the text and lectures. Sometimes [the teacher] and the students get into discussions and debates over problematic material in the book, and if the problems haven't been settled during class time, the students usually carry on the discussion out- side of class, and even outside of school. This really makes a person stop and think, which is one reason why I like it.
S.F. / Female
With all of the information being given to students nowadays, a basic course in logic would help them to analyze and assimilate this knowledge, and to reason correctly. As [my teacher] says, "The more students can detect errors in reasoning in others, the less likely they are to make them themselves. "
AUTHOR'S CHRONOLOGY LEADING TO THE STUDIES IN MEANING
Thirteen years after I left high school in the ninth grade, I return to schooling at Los Angeles Community College and receive my AA degree.
The thought comes to me that ethics and logic should be taught in high school.
I attend UCLA and receive my BA degree in philosophy.
I complete my course credits in philosophy. for my MA requirements at CSULA
I begin teaching a high school logic class Hollywood Professional School, a private accredited academic school.
The following year an ethics class is added to my logic class.
With the ongoing success of my ethics and logic class, I attempt for 3 years to promote the idea of teaching ethics and logic in high schools to school bureaucracy with close, but no, success.
I write an essay on my teaching experiences of teaching ethics and logic in high school. I do not pursue publishing it.
The original idea for the Studies in Meaning was how to give students the quality of one-to-one tutoring, relatively speaking, in a classroom environment.
After two years of experimentation - through curriculum and teaching - the pivotal study-as-you-read learning process underlying the Studies in Meaning is conceived. The curriculum is developed while teaching it to private students. It extends from beginning reading through 12th grade.
Two afterschool tutoring centers are open to teach Studies in Meaning in small groups of 4 to 6 students. At its peak, the enrollment at these two centers were approximately 70 students each session. The centers are closed by middle 1987.
Studies in Meaning is taught as an afterschool program in students' homes in groups of 2, 3, or 4 students.
At its peak, the enrollment of this in-home tutoring is approximately 550 students in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, with approximately 57 tutors teaching as independent contractors.
During this same time period, Studies in Meaning is taught as an afterschool program at 4 public elementary schools of the Los Angeles Unified School District: Wilton Place, Third Street, and Windsor Hills; and of the Redondo Unified School District: Birney Elementary.
1997 - 2012
Studies in Meaning was taught at Coushatta High, Lousiana, Hot Springs High, and Middle School, Arkansas, as an ESL and remediation course, and currently being taught, as supplementary material, at 24th Street School of the Los Angeles Unified School District.