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Enquiry Demands the Ability to Formulate Questions

  1. Sep 22, 2008 #1
    Enquiry Demands the Ability to Formulate Questions

    “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.” Augustine of Hippo. I am coberst and I approve of this message.

    “Joseph Schwab said in 1962 that science is most commonly taught as a “rhetoric of conclusions." He developed sophisticated arguments for teaching science as enquiry."

    An independent mind is one that is grounded in ‘enquiry’. Enquiry demands the ability to develop significant questions and the ability to utilize good judgment while separating the wheat from the chaff.

    John Dewey, a great philosopher, psychologist, and pedagogy discussed the discrepancy between the skills valued in adults and the skills taught to children in schools. Dewey lamented the fact that independent thinking skills were demanded of adults but our children were being taught the converse in our schools.

    My grade school, high school and college education convinces me that Dewey is accurate. I am a retired engineer and my contact with the sciences of physics, mathematics, chemistry, and engineering were completely an experience that was algorithmic (a step-by-step procedure for solving problems) in nature. Later I took courses in the humanities and these were more of a historic enquiry into who thought what and why they thought it at the time that they did so.

    In my opinion the natural sciences do not prepare an individual to become an independent mind whereas the humanities do a better job of that.

    Does your schooling lead you to agree with me and Dewey?

    Quotes from http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...01/ai_n8934732.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2008 #2
    n my opinion the natural sciences do not prepare an individual to become an independent mind whereas the humanities do a better job of that.

    I doubt that it is quite as easy as this, however, I do approve this thread.
  4. Sep 23, 2008 #3
    Actually my school daze slowly evolved. I continued going to classes at night and slowly evolved from being teacher driven to being self-actualizing self-learner. It was only after this evolution was complete did I begin to really understand what my schooling taught me.

    The place that I started was one afternoon in 1981 while reading a book on the Vietnam war I asked my self a question that started the whole process. This question led me into a study of our Civil War which led me into a question about the "mind of the South" which led me to a question of why we humans do as we do and can we do better? That led me to the question... We start the process by asking a significant question about something that holds meaning for us.
  5. Sep 23, 2008 #4


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    First, I think you're confusing critical thinking with independent thinking. But your link is broken, so I can't be sure.

    Either way, that is certainly not my experience in the sciences. If anything, it was the humanities courses where one had to follow formulaic writing approaches, and usually had to agree with the instructor's opinions to succeed in the courses. There was very little room there for independent or critical thinking. On the other hand, science courses DEMAND critical thinking, and scientific careers DEMAND independent thought. This is the foundation of science, to question.
  6. Sep 25, 2008 #5
    I am in agreement with Moonbear here, It is the sciences that have always been more demanding of critical independent thought.

    But I would say that every little bit of knowledge tends to stimulate the critical facilities once one has become a "self-actualizing self-learner" as you like to call it.

    Perhaps the education system has changed for the good since the 80's, maybe you just got crappy teachers, or mayber you were just a crappy student. :wink:
  7. Sep 25, 2008 #6
    Never have I experienced group-think running so thick as in the academic humanites.
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