Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Embarked on another round of training for The New Subject. For this term, every Wednesday afternoon I will be on campus at the new SMU learning about critical thinking and logic in the hope that I will be able to acquire and use these skills for myself and then pass them on to my eager, young, bright-eyed apprentices come next year.

I'm really excited to be pioneering this new direction in education; to train students in thinking for themselves, to regain their natural curiosity for the world around them and to be able to relate their input and stimuli to a moral core and make well-reasoned judgments and take action accordingly. Proactive, independent, self-motivated students who care about what goes on around them and are willing and able to do something about it. All this from a 1-and-a-half year course + another half year of independent research. Well, that's what we hope we'll get, anyway.

Meantime, I'm learning all this new stuff about the different ways we can encounter, express and evaluate Truth (Veritas) and it's quite confusing and technical right now. Our instructor, Mark, assures us that we'll get better with practice so NBS and I will have to have frequent arguments with each other just to sharpen the tools that we use to extract truth. Ooo... verbal lightsabre duels, though as Mark reiterated several times, the 'argument' in this context is not for the purpose of 'winning' but for establishing the Truth.

Oops, tangential thought. From marking over 70 GP essays over the last week or so, we lament that the students tend to balance their arguments badly. They present schizophrenic cases allowing contradictory positions without dealing with the truth of the matter. This is akin to merely reporting on a quarrel between 2 parties with differing viewpoints and just leaving it as such without resolution. He said, She said... so what? A 'balanced' argument isn't just a matter of parroting 2 (or more) sides of a story. Any idiot can do this, no need to take the 'A' levels for this skill.

What do we do about a GP essay, then? We determine how the statement of inquiry (i.e., the essay question) contains only a partial truth and we apply to the statement the various parameters, conditions, circumstances, etc., that will make the statement true. We then use sound reasoning to prove the verity of the modified statement. No wonder GP is so tough, so hard to "score" in. We only teach them to 'balance,' and not how to deal with conflicting thoughts and patiently tease out the Truth for a better understanding and appreciation of life itself.

Thus enlightened, I went bowling with the guys again. Personal high game: 190. Personal average:>150 over 6 games. Quite ok, lah.

One last parting shot: Kids, take a lesson from June who's resting up her sprained back now. When you have to bend to pick up a heavy object, for goodness sake, bend your knees as you establish your grip, then straighten your legs to carry it up. DO NOT lift with your back or there will be... consequences.

No comments: