Critical Thinking and Jewish Education Part 1



my name is the very fortunate head of school if we knew that the Duel Academy who I don't know please have a little dessert I'd love to meet you and them and get a chance to ask any questions I'll speak to you it's one we're very very fortunate I'm actually very excited to see that the good number of our educators from the school are here that speaks well Ebonics because of the one topic that relates and so important to the mission of our institutions is exactly in line with who we are and do we'd like to continue to be as what are we gonna hear from someone who's very close to a beautiful Jewish Academy one of our previous principals who I'm told actually saved our high school if you weren't here at the Brewers you all know is a graduate of Princeton of Columbia as many many books to his name articles is a lead advisor and director at the avocado foundation professor at Emory rabbi and doctor and a scholar and really a profound person who is always ready and willing to help me personally I call him up with the question he always takes the time to give it serious thought and give me advice that when I follow it it turns out to working when I don't it turns out that's the I needed to and I will afterward after making my mistake he's wise well beyond his years and losing a tremendous asset to our community that we have a spooly enough to take more and more men to jump government rollover honor to hit you this morning we hope to have many more opportunities to learn from you thank you so much please Wow I just want you to know that critical you can come from where crisis thank you have a half for that really wonderful introduction and I think actually this is a very ideal forum for reflecting on a series of topics that were put together by aja and its inaugural year I'm very excited to be participating in that when I was asked a couple of months ago about the topic whatever you would like to talk about relating to critical thinking to end Jewish education the truth is I've been thinking about this for many years I think I've been thinking about this since high school which is the truth and I'll talk a little bit more about that but just as a way in to the subject and I'm hoping to leave a lot of time for questions and answers because there's no way to tackle the whole subject in the time we have I just thought by starting off we would look at a couple of mission statements of Jewish day schools around the country okay so here's North West you guys gonna start on the top left of the of the country just kind of go around and so Sushila it's an Orthodox high school scholars occasion oh and what makes them northwest receive a high school education so unique sophisticated become recently sophisticated thinkers both critically and creatively this is in their philosophy of their Jewish Studies in their philosophy of Jewish Studies moving down the west of Portland Jewish Academy it's a rock star community days ago our mission it's on your mission page I'm dedicated to create a faculty members teach through hands-on experiences to develop critical thinking skills I apologize to the people who are blocked by this middle podium Peschel in Los Angeles is a community pre-k through 8 and their mission statement provides a rich dual curricular education that encourages independence and critical thinking it's like it's like everywhere right so we're going swimming around Texas la and Baron K through 12 Michael educational and this is also in their Jewish philosophy statement we strike a balance between relevant and reference like that in our Judaic Studies you see the most up-to-date technology teachers engaging students and his night that curiosity text will still critical thinking they just go hand in hand in this mission statement ok chicagoland going up into the middle of Midwest this is a pluralistic Jewish race go this is there you come to their website this what you see on the very first screen Chicago Angela's high school creates a closer academic as far as students to think critically it's the first goal of high school teaching and achieve their potential okay this is chapter in Cleveland is the old stomping ground I might have missing the barrier right under the original statement our core values after conservative Jewish thought and practice which is reasonable fresh after academic rigor and critical thinking second bullet of their core values as a pre-k through through eight and I could not resist this one Atlanta Georgia it's the first thing critical mind by the way I learn the snipping tool it's homies I learned that last night the other guard so I want to use Isabel optimistic cook but just as an introduction you have your outlines in front of you but I would like to do this morning is to go through some kind of definition of critical thinking what does it mean was entail house it's developed but also some of its history it is an apology discuss the aims of education generally speaking and what we're all critical thinking plays and our role one of the roles of Jewish education sector roll out the the aim here is to understand how it fits into Jewish educational critical thinking and then some concluding remarks that's how I'd like to build it start with the critical thinking took vet education generally then talk about Jewish education and then and then complete so critical thinking as a notion actually starts with the Greeks so it's not a new notion its 2500 years old Socrates is most famous in his apology the unexamined life is not worth living and that doesn't mean I know there's a Jewish community does mean examining other people's life the unexamined life means thinking about what you believe what you do how you relate how you respond the point is to be a knee-jerk automatic reflexive kind of human being for the Greeks was considered an immature a nut you're not a full person according to the Greek right we need to understand that because we we've dropped a lot of that in the modern period but they came at the world what we call teleologically but they were there were goals to everything and I don't mean sign up for your goals I don't mean like meet meet a counselor and figure out your goals that's that that's what we do today but talking about to be a human by definition means to strive to be rational and if you don't you're not a complete person and that that's hard for us to understand definitionally to be human means to develop your rational capacities otherwise what are you how are you unique from animals so for the Greeks if you didn't develop this I mean we could feel bad for you that that we could do but fulfilling you're you're being fulfilling your that role but rather who you are you're required a lot of work and so to Socrates the unexamined life is not worth living it's not because oh I feel bad for those poor people who are not examining their life it's that because that's what human life in because it's not animal life it's human life and to be human needs to be reflective about what you do have you arrived at your conclusions and go from that to other thing so as we know Socrates was forced to drink hemlock okay but it's his method now that's laid out really the Satanic dialogue that lays out the elements that everybody would nowadays agrees are part of critical thinker I'll just go through them these are not surprising to anybody in the college education method says you have to ask deep probing questions so family inquiring of ideas where they come from what they entail what they mean in order to be worthy of our belief we don't just simply take something because it's been uttered but we have to think about it Socrates says you have to seek evidence you would love getting into dialogues with people say well why do you say that where does that come from they start what did you arrive at that conclusion so seeking evidence he was really great and they masters at this law schools closely examining reasoning and assumptions hypotheticals so let's take your reasoning well would you if this were the case what would you say well that means your assumption is the following and really teasing out the elements of good thinking according to Socrates so this is not just that what is good reasoning isn't this an example of good reason could it be better what are the faults in it and of course the assumptions analyzing basic concepts we are great at dropping terms and words in all our conversations when you read things Socrates would say well what do you mean by that so I said well this leads to well-being what do you mean by well-being are you talking physically are you talking emotionally are you talking intellectually interrogating our concepts don't take them as Givens but really analyze basic concepts because everything gets built on those things so if you don't have a good understanding of what the basic is how can you develop a theory or a program and here's the hard part tracing out implications of what is said and what is done as well all right well if you do that what would be the next step what would what would you say to somebody who came to you with it let's tease up if you actually did that what would it look like if you took if you put a lot into place it's a whole area of philosophy called the double effect it's an ethics actually talked about ok so I put this policy into place for what's gonna be the other impact the ripple effect not just of the things itself but we know that throughout throughout life that we have to anticipate these are the kinds of things and according to Socrates and good rationalist all this needs to be done clearly something I struggled in my students every day of every right clearly I understand that I just can't light it no no you don't understand this I tell them you can't write clearly and you don't think clearly and the logical consistency of weak minds but the logical consistency was something that was very important to Socrates so the Socratic method was the ideal of critical thinking but I want to make sure that you understand it was a tool critical thinking was a tool that you applied in various areas of your life really all areas of your life but you don't say I'm going to school to learn critical thinking like that's I don't get a degree in critical thinking you use critical thinking in different areas of your life and that's what Socrates the dill in fact the Socratic dialogues are in many cases investigations of law of governance etc well the Middle Ages I should have called this exploratory because I discovered so much so in the Middle Ages they continued with the analysis using Socratic method but it was primarily to sort out weak or faulty arguments from good ones it was a sorting tool why because in the Middle Ages there was a equally equally valid source of truth it's the Middle Ages right revelation Church Fathers scripture right this was just as important there in fact it was impossible to imagine that there was only one source of truth so you had people I heard on bottom Aquinas summit lob up is the is the classic example in Latin every section and it goes on for many volumes every section is let me know this and it talks about perhaps a capital idea but it says in Scripture or it says in one of the church fathers and that seems to be consistent so we have to reconcile so in the Middle Ages critical thinking was primarily engaged in to reconcile what seemed to be different sources of truth that looked like a contradiction systematization was another critical element no socrates never put together a grand system of the nature of being the nature viewing big human action of ethics it doesn't cross it all he has really individual dialogues but the Middle Ages grand systems that put it all together that made it all fit neatly one into the other that was one of the goals to build these edifices and I would say the wrong box guards that perplexes us effort and pudding – he's a great systematize err wunderbar the first actually who thoroughly does it in the Jewish tradition and that means epistemology why what can we know and that would be valid ontology the nature of man what does it mean to be human the nature of inquiry that it delivers the nature of society these are these are big questions and in the Middle Ages they said now that we actually run society the Christians and the Muslims said now that we run society we have to have a totalizing understanding of how all the pieces fit in this is one of the interesting things why the Rambam was the first because Jews didn't run society they need to run their own society it was just very interesting but the Christian said now that we have it all controlling all how did all the pieces fit and I mentioned earlier the reconciliation of the various truth claims their scripture and revelation together with truth because God was the source of natural law and thinking and our minds but God is the source of Scripture so if God is the source of both how could there be any discrepancy how could there be internal contradiction and inconsistency when the source of truth is the same so that was the Middle Ages but we in the West have been errors to a very different history since the Renaissance and there's a reason that I'm going through this so please be patient with me and I'm sorry that at ajá the clock is so far away that I can't see it but you know there is a little clock here that soup the Renaissance begins to sort out really already before the Reformation with early reformers like Erasmus we have to not rely on authority for truth we actually have to rely on critical thinker remember that sorting function of the faulty well let's take that further like so just because the Pope said it does that make it true just because somebody in the 3rd century said does that make it true and there are claims that were running into sort of a block when it came to other developing sciences and there was clear inconsistencies that could not be reconciled actually Aquinas in the 1200s he's the end of the great systematizes when you think about it the Scholastic movement which I won't go into which was dominant in Europe and in the universities its heyday was the top hundreds by the 1300s people were starting to chip away at this big system does it really account for everything we need evidence we need reason we don't need Authority we don't need people to just tell us what's true we kind of have to figure it out on our own and it's a remarkable revolution that doesn't happen overnight it takes centuries as different areas fall if you will to increasing critical inquiry how do we know what we know how can we rely on it to be true some of it is happening within the church the leap of great catalog collections but then later on what do we have notions of rights from which right from what is the write up what is the power of government where did that come from people are starting to reflect on it and they don't want to say because that's the way we do it that's really not persuasive I mean it's persuasive to the people in power but the people who aren't the power is it tell me why I'm so tempted to think of that Monty Python's give the the basis for government the again you know coming out of the Aquatic NIMS coming out of giving sort out is not a basis of legitimate government's legitimacy and authority don't come from power they come from critical thinking and you can have to prove it too science is the one that's that takes the longest but also is the most compelling because I mean I know we have great science teachers in the room here and you just start going from the really right at the end to the Renaissance into the Enlightenment you you have in every area of science of biology chemistry turning over a Copernican thank Ptolemaic sulfur I can take solecism Ptolemaic universe was just accepted the century I'm teaching the the Rambam Shabbat afternoon and he talks about and these studies philosophers then basic their theories on those crazy ideas like there are things called atoms because that's everybody knows that's wrong you like yes in the 11-hundred that was wrong so no you have to prove to me why I should believe in your approach the earth is not necessarily the center what's the evidence that reason is is separate from evidence but they're related but science chemistry obviously physics mathematic is developing further is it biology how the human body works it says it's being uncovered slowly gradually but it's falling to the gheylens medicine which was like twelve fifteen hundred years old almost 2,000 years old people are saying you know what it's not that way when we think about it but it took centuries to come up with the concept of circulation they knew there was a heart I mean they dissected people they knew that there were hearts I mean they said that they usually cut them with swords and they discovered oh there's a heart there but but they didn't understand there is a transport system that it was right there was no notion of breathing that the pulmonary is connected to the cardio it's amazing that this just takes a lot of science is not based on it but though I mean about our Newton's laws of physics the three the three fundamental laws of physics it's just a totally new way politic yet Locke's treatises on government it was legitimacy Hobbes Leviathan well how do people give up their rights to a ruler how does that happen the notion of covenant and contract these are basic ideas that the environment is saying is based on critical thinking and not Authority economics Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations right Marx never granted us the agents the con box he's an economics philosopher he and angles are really trying to understand the nature of labor and capital and management and it it's just it's critical thinking is the way that they develop their theories what is the nature of society and do as individuals wanted to is collected the old Greek notion of what is the goal of society to enable individual flourishing we get that in the Enlightenment what's the but what's the reason we have government in our society in America what's the purpose of the Constitution it's not to collect tax I just wanted it's in order to like individual pursuit that the goal of society is to help the individual get to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness a very different notion of happiness it really doesn't mean tonight's game it's that's nice it's not happening that might make some people happy but and then finally religion that religion is subject to critical thinking that we're not going to accept things based strictly on the authority of popes or bishops or ancient texts the Reformation could not have happened if it wasn't critical thinking going on in the Renaissance but then even after that there are people who are attacking of David Humes devastating critique of religion from which I think the West has never fully recovered Conte copyrights in the 1760s religion within the limits of reason alone just think about that term religion within the limits of reason alone build religion up from the bottom don't just tell me it was revealed the practiced a fascinating idea and we're all heirs of that in the West there is another element that became more essential in the 19th and 20th century which was the push for critical thinking is not just for philosophers and universities if you think about what to write treatises on you have to act on your critical thinking critical thinking is meant to be normative it's fine when the people philosophize about the nature of government and they come up with it representative forms of government but actually individual you have to develop as a critical thinker because that's gonna dictate how you're going to choose to live your life and I don't mean just over all I'm talking about what am i doing today like you have to develop a critical posture so that I'm not just gonna do the same thing I'm not going to just be on the treadmill well maybe you should be on the treadmill but I mean on the treadmill of oh it's a two car get up get dressed go to work right now you have to engage like Socrates this notion of living the unexamined life as being not worth it is a critique of just Western society you have to actually develop a decision-making process not just in theory but in practice now obviously we weren't following all that because the nineteen eighties foundation for critical thinking is family well if we're so Western it with such critical thinkers then why would you have to start a foundation by the way the thirty-fifth conference is coming up month you if you want to go it's a thirty fifty sixty oh the only non academics conference I mean you're not not a university kind of conference focused on could thinking about Nader is a frequent speaker at the at this and they now they have a second partner it's the critical thinking community it wasn't so now you're part of a community and they have an amazing website you could really get all that you want about critical thinking they did that added think they admit enlighten some stuff that are going to bring up later in the presentation but they see schools that's critical to that and I would like to that turn you know some up so and then we're checks education the critical thinker questions and probes ends and objectives the status and wording of questions like how did you stay Lily do you mean that that really sharpening and refining all of the English teachers out there getting students to write clearly and precisely sources of information in fact oh boy we struggling with this one oh I've got it from the web right it must be true that's your second source of but no I I have now I actually now regulate for my students I give them a daily assignment they must put down their sources is it you fight you have to find at least two or three sources but when you got there up and come up with a composite definition all right I just do this regularly now because I want to see what they're getting if it's always web I find out you know there is something called the encyclopedia of philosophy you might want to check it out and things like that but in fact and I'm sorry to say I know we have journalists in the audience but you know our journalistic media have not contributed well to this lack of faith in our sources of and the method and quality of information collection where did you pick that up how did you get it how many people did you interview did you investigate did you question it so it's not just oh is three people whoa how did you ask them did you ask them in a leading way to the quality of information the mode of judgment and recently used it's not just enough to say I thought about it and this is what I concluded let us how did you think about it what questions to do it etc the concepts that make that reasoning possible on the line that's the theory a fortiori reasoning or logic a or not anything like that the assumptions that underlie concept in use acknowledge than there are underlying assumptions and the implications that follow them they use which we brought up so that's these are the goals of tools in education I want to just take them out what do you think the aims of Education are generally yeah this is a this is an interactive part impart information so that would direct so I could read things but I could also go to school and get things so it's the classic right open the brain pour it in close it right so it up and now I have the information that is definitely one damned okay so now you're talking about a skill but also curiosity in other words this idea to need to continue to be oh that's an I didn't do that one ongoing learning is a frequent one on what on mission statements Allen yes great guy so now we realized that because and this is going to be key when when the Greeks wrote about education by the way Francis Bacon wrote about education and the late Renaissance so it's not like I'm Regulus I really sorry so people have been talking about education but when I talk about education they never said oh like K through 12 schools that's not that kind of it lifelong so we realized that this idea and Anna I know even at Emory we think about oh my gosh if we don't talk about it now like when will they hear this and I know what elementary schools must think really like wow we don't tell them now where will they ever hear this or know about it even if developmentally they're not ready for it it's a big problem it's it from but when Socrates thought about education he thought about it as a lifelong thing you would have a mentor or you would have friends our Styles notion of friendship is really around ongoing values and learning from one another friendship is very key to Aristotle's notion of the flourishing life and I don't mean friendship isn't having friends I mean it's that what the friends do with you right tailgating I guess I'm just gonna use that so so the idea that you mentioned is is part of it and the Greeks but they didn't limit it to when we say the goals of Education what do we really mean the goals of schooling as a big difference and we have to acknowledge that schools can do certain things but they can't do it all but the aims of education itself are something that have undergone a lot of reflection and I'm just going to this is a book that I found really fascinating Clayton Christensen he is actually a great professor at Harvard who developed theories of disruptive innovation that was his main thing and somebody asked him like well what about schools why can't we have disruptive innovation in schools he wrote this book I think of 2006 of 2008 and he predicted that by 2016 a certain percentage of students in high school would be getting their courses online and the disruption involved in that but the real problem with disruptive innovation is that disruptive innovation always takes place outside the structures of business it's the startups that are doing the innovation and then it leaks back in and this is why Dell Falls or IB as things like that happened it's a very worthwhile book but in his second chapter he goes to the four phases of disruptive today phases of the goals of education in America and the reason I'm focusing on this is because we live in America and you should be aware that it's that it's changed so initially before 1900 and the major goal of public education even though we didn't have public education throughout the country people like Thomas Jefferson we're imagining it Thomas Jefferson was the one who came up with the idea of elementary school high school college but there should be three phases and and because he was worried about the elite he was actually very worried about a tyranny of the masses and he thought you would have three tiers within coupe you know fewer fewer students going to the sections it wasn't put into place till much later we're talking about the one schoolhouse – most of America the one-room school s but there the goal was preserve American democracy you needed an educated citizenry does it make sense you have to read they have to study why they have to study the claims that are being made about the promises of politicians there's a wisdom of laws you can't just rely on charisma they were very worried that America would fall back into a tyranny like Europe so reading was very important the skills of reading were paramount solicit you could have a school of because it the older ones will teach the younger ones have it but as long as you could provide books to people there was a trust that they would be able to develop the thinking around around meaning we all know the same stories of Abraham Lincoln whatever but the other thing the civics was very important democratic values we have to read John Locke we have to read some of the main theories of freedom and individual flourishing it's not enough to just read popular writing there was popular writing but that would be a waste of time when you grow up when the schoolhouse we have to finish the importance of freedom to prevent government from encroaching on them that was up to 1900 but that's like Kristensen claims that started in very late eighteen hundreds early – hundreds those are some there was an awareness that America is booming economically industrialization we now need a workforce and we need a very sound work for us because we need everybody to be employed full employment was a goal of the country and all these immigrants needed to be trained and that's important work now education is not about personal flourishing what is it about or civics it's about finding a job getting the right being trained to do something to not remember them we cannot have a concept yet of welfare if you can't work but you will be a burden on somebody and that you can't be an individual who could succeed in life so as points out they didn't say don't do this they said do this and do this and this is the period where high schools expanded the number of high school grew exponentially the number of student in have it here down that the number yet in 1905 one-third of students went on to high school by 1930 75% oxidizable realize that in 25 years right more than doubled with a negative old immigrant children coming up for high school high schools had to change so you started to create tracks in high school vocational that's when you start to have shop and you start to have art and because people it was the goal but everybody should be employed whereas the schoolhouse was just get them to read and actually to do basic math and a Henneman ship and some basic critical thinking skills now it's a sound workforce and the 50s and 60s when there's wealth and there's affluent there's even more opportunities there's orchestra and band right it's like all these things start to happen because of this concept of everybody should be gainfully employed as adults now welfare does change that to a certain degree because there's no safety net for people who don't get a job but before that there is this sense of variety and diversity within the high school program and that's when you start to get these sounds and student high schools you didn't have that before you didn't need it but now you you do so that that was the second thing is we start together a PE the Advanced Placement I start to have all of those languages come in art photography in 90 the reason this is a key point 19 is that in 1981 a study was put out by the Department of Education a nation at risk it just it just sent everybody into a tailspin that the core subjects are not being learned is all okay so they come out knowing how to go do auto body work but they can't spell well they could so how can we be competitive and there was a fear that Europe Japan remember when Japan was the big threat on the economic landscape but keeping America competitive and it was a focus on the basic skills but how are you going to know what's your evidence that there's progress metrics we need more tests we need more standardized tests and we need to measure how the students are doing and that explodes in the 1980s to ETS is great satisfaction Educational Testing Service and that is a primary goal and it leads to the net the final phase which is No Child Left Behind

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