Friday, December 9, 2011

Aha! Thinking people thinking, it's always fun.

It's always nice when someone else puts into words ideas that you've been trying to formulate for some time. Unless of course you're wanting to use those ideas to make money, in which case you're screwed. In this case however, I'm quite happy about it. I think I first started trying to think about something like this a few years ago when I first heard of Cafe Scientifique. Cafe Scientifique is a fine idea but it's more of a public talk than an forum in which people can develop skills. So when the University of Strategic Optimism put this out (h/t to Alex), the proverbial light bulb lit up. A lot of our science education efforts are aimed towards those still in school. Which, don't get me wrong, is vital. There is nothing that I can see that is directed towards the development of critical thinking skills for adults in the day to day world. If you look to the evening classes at the local schools and short courses at universities, the most intellectual they get seems to be learning a new language, most of them are practical courses - again, nothing wrong with that, but it's tantamount to saying that the adult population aren't or shouldn't be interested in developing skills useful for figuring out how the world around them works.
The optimistic part of me hopes that with a greater understanding of how to break down what happens around us into understandable chunks, we could have a populace that could demand more from a media that currently expects us to only be able to read at the level of a 9 year old. If willing participants could be found, I'd even happily attempt to lead a basic critical thinking tutorial in a pub somewhere that wouldn't mind me drawing all over their windows with a chalk pen. The only problem being that I'm not sure how to go about finding willing participants. I'll keep thinking, with the hope that the UoSO or someone like them will have a flash of inspiration on that front as well.

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