Critical or creative (or both)

Critical Condition: Replacing Critical Thinking with CreativityFinn
By Patrick Finn

Review by Bob Lane on Tue, Apr 21st 2015.

Should we stop teaching critical thinking? Meant as a prompt to further discussion, Critical Condition questions the assumption that every student should be turned into a “critical thinker.”

Two public events have caught my attention (along with millions of other citizens in several countries) this week. One, here in Canada, our Parliament is debating a bill to authorize more spying and additional powers for police to protect us from terrorists. The down side, of course, is a serious reduction of civil liberties. Two, the President of the United States has just announced a framework for a negotiated nuclear settlement with Iran to protect us from nuclear holocaust.
Click here to read the full review!

8 thoughts on “Critical or creative (or both)

    • I’d love to know what your class thinks about this as well, sob1989!

      There does seem to be a bit of a straw man argument against critical thinking in Finn’s book, impoverishing or reducing critical thinking to a coughed-up hairball of the human condition that is hard to, er, love. Creative thinking and loving communication to the rescue!

      It would be interesting to try creative thinking and loving communication practically with a problem that is tailor-made for critical thinking, say, the argument about the benefits of a loss of privacy and civil liberties in exchange for greater government surveillance to protect us against terrorism. Perhaps even try it twice, once with ye olde ‘polemics’ of critical thinking and once with creative thinking and loving communication. Do the two methods converge naturally in a class room after a while, breaking down the distinction?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. We had a spirited discussion! First we watched Ken Robinson’s first video. Students loved it. They agree that reform is needed in education but disagree on just what has to be changed. Then we watched Finn’s TEDx video. Most of the students thought he was interesting and a caring guy. Then we read Bob’s metapsychology review. (My students know Bob from the many times I have mentioned him.)

    Most agreed that “critical” has many negative connotations and that we need a different word to describe what we ought to do in ordinary discussions to stay away from emotional outbursts, personal attacks, and the like. “Too often we do just shout at each other and not listen to the other person,” said one. “We need to be less critical in the negative sense but more critical in the philosophical/scientific sense.”

    We talked again about fallacies and all agreed that Dr. Finn is gulity of the strawman fallacy – he mischaracterizs critical thinking to attack it. We also agreed that much of political discourse is useless – argumentative by design and never or rarely creative.

    Finally after discussion we agreed that we would participate in what we are going to call “constructive thinking” – taking the best properties of both creative and critical thinking and combining them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing, sob1989! I very much enjoyed reading about your classroom experience.

      I like the (vaguely Hegelian?) synthesis of the best of both critical and creative worlds and combining them into “constructive thinking.” We need more of that! 🙂


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