Today’s post is part of the first Synchroblogging session, organised by Kelvin Oliver at the University of Memphis. Synchroblogging is where all participants write a post on a particular topic in the same period of time. The first topic chosen was…’This Really Bugs Me‘. Hello to all of you who are participating.
I’m quite happy ranting. A topic like ‘This Really Bugs Me’ is an invitation for me to rant away. So instead of pointing out one thing that bugs me, how about two? I’m greedy that way…hopefully that doesn’t bug you!
Two random things that bug me (and worry me) on a student level are:
1. Information overload;
2. The underrepresentation of critical thinking skills.
I recently read a piece by Cory Doctorow called ‘The Future of Ignoring Things’ (thanks to Doctorow, you can read the book that contains this essay for free in electronic form). His essay is spot on.
Doctorow used to be able to read just about everything thrown at him online. “Today,” he says, “I can’t even keep up with a single high-traffic message-board”. And it’s not just online information that gets on top of us. Everywhere we look, there seems to be an infinite number of books, messages, articles, posts, TV shows, videos, debates, instructions, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, pamphlets, e-mails, albums, presentations, conferences, phone calls, text messages, and so on. It doesn’t end.
Information overload bugs me. It’s one of the biggest problems to be faced by students (and the wider populous) now and in the coming years. Doctorow concludes that “The only answer is better ways and new technology to ignore stuff – a field that’s just being born, with plenty of room to grow”.
I’m inclined to agree with Doctorow. It’s just too difficult trying to tell anyone that they can just ignore practically all of the information thrown at them. I just hope these ‘ignoring’ technologies develop sooner rather than later.
Students not being taught to develop their critical thinking skills before university
Critical thinking just doesn’t show up on the radar of most students before they get to uni. It’s not their fault, it’s just the way teaching happens in general. When people enter Higher Education, it can be quite a culture shock. It bugs me that a worrying number of students don’t realise the importance of critical thinking and how to use it to their advantage. It’s hardly pointed out to them and that’s wrong.
No longer is the work about doing as you’re told, learning a bunch of correct answers and getting everything ‘right’. Leave that in the past. Now it’s about thinking for yourself, it’s about having opinions and backing them up, it’s about researching scholarly output and then coming to your own conclusions, it’s about experimenting and developing. Critical thinking is flexible and fun, but the lack of push in that direction only stifles the critical process.
Let’s see a drive in letting young people open their minds and think for themselves, whilst engaging with the thoughts of others. The sooner we can get rid of strict ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers, the better.
Good to have got a couple of things off my chest. Thanks for giving me the chance, Kelvin!
Feel free to rant about this or any other things that bug you in the comments. I look forward to reading everyone else’s Synchroblogging posts.