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May 2007 News

THINK! Its Not Illegal - Yet

Aisha (Perpetually Befuddled) -- May 31, 2007

"On the flight to Michigan this past weekend I saw a guy wearing a really cool t-shirt that said in large bold letters: THINK! Its not illegal-yet. It made me smile and after pondering why I hadn't been born a 60's flower power child when such t-shirts were common place and bell bottoms were cool.. I thought of Al Gore's new book, the ' Assault on Reason,'  which talks about where the emphasis on using ones reason went... Of course others have voiced similar observations but if Gore is on the bandwagon that means that it'll get talked about and maybe it'll get thought about too. " -- Read the Full Article

Evolutionary Professor Encourages Critical Thinking

Creation Ministries International (Creation on the Web) -- May 31, 2007
by Michael Oard

"An interesting opinion article appeared in an issue of Physics Today, entitled Teaching and Propaganda. Motivated by the 1999 Kansas Board of Education decision and the outcry by scientists, Mano Singham is a voice of reason within an irrational overreaction ... Although he makes it clear that he is not a closet creationist (a statement many evolutions feel obligated to make—likely to avoid ridicule for daring to criticize evolution), he goes on to cheer those students in his physics classes that have been skeptical enough to question some of the doctrines being taught. He admits that teaching is really brainwashing because the students trust the teacher, the institution, and the school that granted the degree that allows one to teach. He admits: ‘And I use that trust to effectively brainwash them. We who teach introductory physics have to acknowledge, if we are honest with our selves, that our teaching methods are primarily those of propaganda. We appeal—without demonstration—to evidence that support our position. We only introduce arguments or evidence that support the currently accepted theories, and omit or gloss over any evidence to the contrary. We give short shrift to alternatives theories, introducing them only in order to promptly demolish them—again by appealing to undemonstrated counter-evidence …of course we do all this [brainwashing] with the best of intentions and complete sincerity. I have good reasons for employing propaganda techniques to achieve belief' ... Obviously, he believes he is imparting truth to the students, which justifies the means. I would not mind if he stuck only to observational physics, but when he applies this same attitude to historical science, he is too trusting and lacks critical thinking himself. But still, he prefers critical thinking students: ‘The best I can hope for is to enable my students to think critically, to detect propaganda and reject intellectual coercion, even when I am the one doing it." -- Read the Full Article

Coming to Terms With the 'R' Word

Diverse (Issues in Higher Education) -- May 31, 2007
By Natalie Y. Moore

"Colleges may boast diversity, but what does that really mean for campus climate?... When classes resume in August, first-year students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City will read a book intended to open their minds on social justice. They can expect many campuswide conversations about the complications of immigration as related in Enrique’s Journey, by journalist Sonia Nazario ... ' We hope [students] come away with critical-thinking skills … that this is one of the first things that starts them on that journey,' says Dr. Karen Dace, UMKC’s deputy chancellor for diversity, access and equity ... Broadening perceptions among the student body through required reading dovetails with a broader diversity mission that UMKC officials are putting in place ... UMKC has drawn internal and external ire for the campus’s historically chilly environment for Black students ... ' I’m not about food, festival and fun,' says Dace of the oft-used diversity touch points. Her diversity czar position is a result of new inclusion initiatives. ' For a lot of people, if that’s all diversity is, that’s OK. Everybody loves to eat and watch folks dance ... For us to do anything that’s going to have an impact and work at social justice … we might have to have some difficult conversations.'” -- Read the Full Article


Exploring Leadership

The ChronicleHerald -- May 31, 2007
by Bill Howatt

Halifax, Nova Scotia — "Leadership is an imperfect science, with many companies trying to figure out the right formula for successful management ... Each month, bookstores are filled with new books on leadership, promising the right formula for success in a neat, easy-to-use package. But instead of making a promise, I’m offering some considerations for people who want to become great leaders ... the real test is not what you think; it’s what onlookers think ... A critical ability and skill for leaders is effective decision-making. Often, good decision-making is developed in leaders who have the right combination of intelligence, experience, personality traits, trusting instincts, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. " -- Read the Full Article

Detroit's Public Education Establishment Fights Charter School Growth

The New Editor -- May 31, 2007
by Tom Elia

"As we've noted before, one of the most troubled public school systems in the US is the Detroit Public Schools system, which graduates less than 22% of its students from high school ... Presumably as a result of this awful record, the Detroit Free-Press reports on the exodus from the city's public schools to charter schools -- and the selfish reaction by the city's public school educators to that movement away from the public schools ... And the reaction of the school board to this? The DPS Board of Education, fearing the possibility of more charter schools, passed a resolution this year to not lease or sell any of its vacant buildings to them ... Because it's all about the children. (Commentary:  'Mind you, its probably 90% politics, but charter systems and vouchers don't solve "every" problem either. Often such schools can have ideological goals that are contrary to the point of proper education, promoting a "pass the test because you have to, but we hope one day to replace everything in the country with our ideology, so you don't have to actually 'believe' any of it, but give the right answers." They can, as was the case with one person I recently talked to that lived with their kids in DC, have "worse" standards for teacher pay and qualifications than public schools ... Look, I am not saying the idea is bad, if public systems are failing. I am saying that it can make things worse, so long as our "standard" for education is to only promote passing tests as a benchmark for progress, while we ignore the ideologies or lack of attempts to apply education in critical thinking skills within the system. And the US has had a long streak of anti-intellectualism.'") -- Read the Full Article

Man v God

The Times -- May 30, 2007
by Janice Turner

"The polemical journalist Christopher Hitchens is more read in America than in his native UK – but that is about to change with his vitriolic new book attacking religion ... He is Hunter S. Thompson cut with Gore Vidal, has broken America – as Vanity Fair columnist and a pop-up TV pundit – without even chipping his minor public school vowels. Some believe he is the one contemporary journalist who will still be read in 50 years’ time, the worthiest claimant to the title heir to Orwell ... God is Not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything, although sweeping in its erudition, is a righteous harangue ... Hitchens is never far below boiling point. He is an evangelical secularist, an atheist warlord. Religion, he writes, is ' violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children' ...  ' Marx says criticism of religion is the beginning of all criticism,' Hitchens says. ' Philosophy starts where religion ends, just as chemistry starts where alchemy breaks off or astronomy starts where astrology runs out. It is the necessary argument. Not believing in the supernatural is the critical thing.'" -- Read the Full Article

First, Violin

The Boston Globe -- May 30, 2007
By Don Aucoin

"At a time when some schools are cutting back on performing-arts education, this school has decided that music is the best way to animate the study of seemingly unrelated subjects. Jonathan Rappaport, the school's executive director, is a longtime music educator and musician who describes the organizing principle of the school's curriculum as 'learning through music.'  The goal is not to produce musicians, he says, but rather 'to use music as a way of educating kids in a very comprehensive way ... What is different here is that music is taught as a daily core curriculum subject,' says Rappaport. ' The development of critical-thinking skills is so important, and a lot of that comes out of the music.' He points out that music has a mathematical basis, with phrases divided into measures and measures divided into beats. ' Music has a very profound effect on the cognitive development of young people,' he says. ' I think we're proving it here.' -- Read the Full Article

A seminal aspect of learning any subject well is learning to think critically in the language and concepts of that subject. Here we see where the domain of music disciplined by critical inquiry, discourse, and reasoning leads to deeper, broader, better understandings of music with integral overlaps in the learning of mathematics and other subjects across the curriculum. The integration of critical thought and critical understandings across disciplines builds intellectual integrity that serves broader and deeper levels of understanding.

MCLA Journalism Project: Ahead Of The Curve -- May 30, 2007
by Jen Thomas

"The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) English/Communications department is amping up its curriculum with an eye on creating a tech-savvy pool of real-time ready journalists ... ' We want to be ahead of the curve on media,' said Robert Bishoff, the chairperson of the English/Communications department ... Titled the 'Journalism at MCLA' project, the initiative aims to integrate various media forms into one interrelated curriculum, allowing students the opportunity to gain experience in all aspects of media production. This project will put MCLA’s journalism students ahead of their peers by ensuring they learn something about everything involved in the media/journalism profession ... ' Today, news media institutions will require their staff to have not only excellent writing skills but also abilities in the use of digital photography and digital video,' he continued. 'Our research has told us that news media find that new recruits with these skills are in short supply ... At MCLA, the development of our new curriculum is aimed at equipping students not just with these technical skills, but more importantly with critical thinking and writing competencies.'" -- Read the Full Article

Klondike Gold Rush on website of unsolved mysteries

Waterloo Chronicle -- May 30, 2007 

"The Klondike Mystery, co-authored by University of Waterloo historian Ken Coates, will be the latest historical addition to the popular Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History website  ... ' The Klondike Gold Rush is perhaps the only event in Canadian history that is known around the world,' said Coates, a professor of history and UW's dean of arts. ' There is a great debate about who discovered the gold that touched off the most famous gold stampede in history' ... Coates, who specializes in the history of the Yukon and the Canadian North, co-authored the Klondike Mystery project with longtime collaborator William Morrison, a professor of history at the University of Northern British Columbia ... The project, based at the University of Victoria, the Universite de Sherbrooke and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, has created a series of instructional websites aimed at enhancing research strategy and critical-thinking skills among students." -- Read the Full Article

Siblings Excel at Science Fair

Victoria News -- May 30, 2007
by Andrea Lavigne

"It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine the Bild-Enkin family has talent ... Daniel, Simon and Hannah Bild-Enkin, students at Esquimalt high school, have a reputation for cleaning up awards at science fairs ...  All three recently competed in the Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair. Hannah received first place in the Junior Division and the Thomson Nelson Award for outstanding critical thinking skills for her project ' Hannah’s Height: Daily Variations in Stature of a 13-year-old girl ' ... Hannah studied how water saturation in the spinal column affects height throughout the day. ' I found I was two centimetres taller in the morning,' she said ... Simon and Daniel both nabbed Overall Awards in the Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair and moved on to compete in the national competition recently held in Truro, Nova Scotia ... Simon, a Grade 10 student, took third place overall for his project on ' Dissolving Buildings: The Effects of Acid Rain on Limestone Structures' ... Daniel, a Grade 12 student, placed first overall in the regional competition for his project “Voila les Voyelles: French Vowel Pronunciation in a Victoria high school” and won the Aspreva Pharmaceuticals Award and Alexa Geminiano Award ... Daniel credits his father, who is a geologist, and mother, who has a degree in linguistics, for their success ...' Research is part of how we think,' he said." -- Read the Full Article

Laurier to Offer Unique MBA Degree

CordWeekly.Com -- May 30, 2007
by Laura Carlson

Waterloo, ON — "WLU to offer the nation’s first entrepreneurial masters degree program ... September will see the launch of a brand new one-year entrepreneurial MBA program at Laurier, which is the first of its kind in Canada. Laurier is planning on opening its doors to between 10 and 15 students who are looking to get a business education that includes a more hands-on approach ... ' The program is designed for people who either want to start their own business or work within the young firms that have just started up and are entrepreneurial in nature,' said Peter Carayannopoulos, MBA director at Laurier ... ' We feel like we’ve built a lot of expertise in the particular area so it only makes sense that we will capitalize on that,' he added ... ' It’s a very different environment that we’re preparing our students for than a typical academic environment offers,' said Ginny Dybenko, dean of business and economics at Laurier ... Dybenko feels that the program planning of this MBA will give students the problem solving and critical thinking skills to survive in the buisness world. " -- Read the Full Article

A New Approach to Community Law Enforcement

NewsDurhamRegion.Com -- May 30, 2007
by Jeff Mitchell

Oshawa — "' What's the problem here?' That simple question is at the heart of a new philosophy of policing that was the subject of an intense symposium hosted recently by Durham Regional Police. Problem Oriented Policing encourages officers to seek out the root issues behind incidents with a view to preventing repeat calls that plague communities and drain police resources ... ' It's a policing philosophy -- it's an extension of community policing,' said Deputy Chief Chuck Mercier, who was on hand at the Police Learning Centre at Durham College as the two-week course, attended by cops from across the country, wound up last Friday ... The deputy chief said the approach involves exercising critical thinking to determine what's at the heart of an incident -- it may be a runaway child, a noise complaint in a student neighborhood or drugs and prostitution in the inner city -- and work with stakeholders, such as community members, service providers, relatives and others to address the cause and prevent repeat incidents." -- Read the Full Article

Religious Expression in Texas

Education Week -- May 30, 2007

"Texas students would have greater freedom to express their religious views on school campuses under a bill passed Saturday by the House and sent to Gov. Rick Perry, who has publicly supported the measure ... Under the legislation, religious beliefs expressed in homework, artwork and other assignments would be judged by traditional academic standards. Students couldn't be penalized or rewarded because of the religious content of their work ... Supporters say the bill is needed to protect students from censorship and school districts from lawsuits. But opponents argue it will lead to religious discrimination among students." -- Read the Full Article

U.S. Library Books in Jordan Encourage Creativity

International Herald Tribune -- May 30, 2007
Associated Press

Amman, Jordan — "Jordan has launched a U.S.-funded library book program in its public primary schools to encourage critical thinking in an effort to more away from rote education ... More than 2 million books belonging to the "My Arabic Library" collection are being used in 2,000 public schools in Jordan, said Fatenah Amawi, Jordan's representative for the New York-based publisher Scholastic Corp ... My Arabic Library" includes novels and science books that have been translated into Arabic for students in grades one to six in the Middle East ... Scholastic, along with U.S. State Department funding, has sent more than 7 million translated children's books into schools in Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Morocco over the past two years ... Along with trying to encourage creative thinking, Jordan also is attempting to root out anti-Israel and militant books, including some that called for the Jewish state's destruction, that had found their way into some classrooms." -- Read the Full Article

UWO Uses Sim Technology to Teach Critical Care Concepts

TheNorthwestern.Com -- May 30, 2007
by Colleen Huseboe

"Area students and nurses will learn critical care techniques this summer on SimMan, a Human Patient Simulator. The College of Nursing uses this state-of-the-art technology to teach critical thinking skills in the most realistic manner possible. SimMan breathes, speaks, and has a heart beat. Educators can program the symptoms of various medical emergencies, for example, cardiac arrest in SimMan. If the correct sequences of steps are not taken by the student, SimMan can die. Simulation technology provides invaluable experience to students preparing for the ever increasingly complex field of health care ... Students will be able to demonstrate a range of critical thinking activities from the most basic to the most complex. They may assess, diagnose, plan, implement and evaluate care of routine fundamental patient situations or complex emergencies." -- Read the Full Article

Intel CEO to Visit Egypt: First Visit to the Arab World

AMEInfo -- May 30, 2007

"Greater awareness of the benefits that information technology (IT) solutions bring to communities and the economy is a key focus of Intel Corporation President and CEO Paul Otellini's visit to Egypt next month, his first visit to the Arab world ... Intel has been working with government entities and local partners as part of its bid to increase access to technology and enhance education within Egypt under the framework of the company's Intel World Ahead Program. One key success point is Intel's work with the government to train 80 percent of teachers in Egypt by 2010 in how to apply technology to create 21st century skills for millions of youths ... The Intel® Teach program has helped more than 4 million teachers in more than 35 countries effectively integrate technology into their classrooms to improve student learning. In the next five years, Intel plans to train 10 million more teachers on the effective use of technology in education, with the possibility of reaching another 1 billion students. The Intel® Learn Program is a community-based effort in which underserved youth ages 8-16 learn technology, critical thinking, and collaboration skills using an engaging, project-centered approach. To date, the program has been launched in eight countries and has reached more than 450,000 learners. " -- Read the Full Article

East Windsor Students to Compete in National Competition

Journal Inquirer ( North-Central Connecticut's Hometown Newspaper) -- May 30, 2007
by Kory Loucks

EAST WINDSOR - East Windsor High School students placed second in their division at the Future Problem Solving state bowl in April and will be competing at the FPS International Conference at Colorado State University this week ... Founded in 1974 by Dr. E. Paul Torrance, the Future Problem Solvers program is intended to stimulate critical and creative thinking skills and encourage students to develop a vision of the future." -- Read the Full Article

Balboa Elementary Wins $170,000 for Nation's Best Math Programs

KPBS (NPR) -- May 30, 2007
by Ana Tintocalis

"A San Diego school gets national attention for having a one of the country's top math programs. KPBS reporter Ana Tintocalis has more ... Teachers and students at Balboa Elementary were treated to live Mariachi music after they got the good news. Computer chip maker Intel gave the school $170,000 for having the most successful math programs in the nation ... Parents say it all comes down to the math teachers, who develop lessons that encourage kids to use logic and critical thinking skills." -- Read the Full Article

Religion vs Reason

Casper Star Tribune -- May 29, 2007
by Rachel Zoll

"The time for polite debate is over. Militant, atheist writers are making an all-out assault on religious faith and reaching the top of the best-seller list, a sign of widespread resentment over the influence of religion in the world among nonbelievers ... Christopher Hitchens' book, 'God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,' has sold briskly ever since it was published last month, and his debates with clergy are drawing crowds at every stop ... Sam Harris was a little-known graduate student until he wrote the phenomenally successful ' The End of Faith' and its follow-up, ' Letter to a Christian Nation.'  Richard Dawkins'  ' The God Delusion ' and Daniel Dennett's ' Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon' struck similar themes _ and sold ...
' There is something like a change in the Zeitgeist,' Hitchens said, noting that sales of his latest book far outnumber those for his earlier work that had challenged faith. ' There are a lot of people, in this country in particular, who are fed up with endless lectures by bogus clerics and endless bullying' ... Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, a prominent evangelical school in Pasadena, Calif., said the books' success reflect a new vehemence in the atheist critique ... The war metaphor is apt. The writers see themselves in a battle for reason in a world crippled by superstition. In their view, Muslim extremists, Jewish settlers and Christian right activists are from the same mold, using fairy tales posing as divine scripture to justify their lust for power. Bad behavior in the name of religion is behind some of the most dangerous global conflicts and the terrorist attacks in the U.S., London and Madrid, the atheists say ... As Hitchens puts it: 'Religion kills' ... ' I don't believe in conspiracy theories,' Mouw said, ' but it's almost like they all had a meeting and said, ' Let's counterattack.'" -- Read the Full Article

Who are all these people who profess to know what god thinks? It's gotten to a point where anyone with a bath towel can step out of their closet to pronounce god's latest edict and be set upon by a crazed multitude of "believers." The pompousness of the human condition would indeed be laughable were it not so tragic. The world is full of self-styled sidekicks to god out to manipulate, control and abuse others. The concept of god is always a hypothetical pretext to someone's order and control. On final analysis, it's all about power. In democratic forums that serve open dissent and critical examination with dialectic insights and creative solutions to real problems and orderly changes in secular government — a continuum to a better life among people thinking together in "good faith" that humanity can work out its problems together — it is immoral to indulge all arguments and lines of reasoning whose premises are grounded in supreme authorities, whose existence can neither be proved or disproved. The moment any authority is imposed onto a dialectic argument, it closes the door to open questioning, discovery, reasoning, understanding and the creativity needed to work out viable solutions to our most pressing problems. It is ironic that both atheist and religious dogma try to impose their respective vanities onto each other with arguments by authority in thinly veiled attempts to mask an overwhelming lack of critical proof. Humanity needs to back off, cut the bravado and adopt agnostic positions on hypothetical beliefs it hasn't critically validated.  

Reason in an Unreasonable Form

The New York Sun -- May 29, 2007
by Stefan Beck

"Al Gore can finally be grateful to look like a cigar-store Indian. It takes a straight face to argue so forcefully, as he does in "The Assault on Reason" (Penguin, 320 pages, $25.95), against the same irrational, cash-controlled, propaganda-driven politics that punched his ticket for years. Deriding the ' manufacture of consent' enabled by advertising, he revisits a Senate campaign in which he authorized a clever 'advertising buy,' then assures readers that he 'was astonished when … [his] lead had increased by exactly 8.5 percent.' Golly! " -- Read the Full Article

Farewell, Billy, and Thanks for Sharing 31 Years with B-H Minds

The Bluffton News-Banner -- May 29, 2007
by Justin Peeper

"When I think back to how close I came to not taking her class, it makes my head ache ... Today, I can say it was one of the best decisions I made in four years of high school. After sharing a classroom with Billy Kreigh for one semester, I learned to become a critical thinker and I experienced a myriad of new thoughts and concepts that I had never considered. I learned and experienced more in her class than I can express in this space. She prepared me for college, no doubt, but she also unlocked a curiosity hidden deep in my mind that I didn’t know existed ... After 31 years of teaching at Bluffton High School, however, Billy Kreigh is retiring. She attended her final BHS graduation Friday night as an English teacher. Billy and I had a short conversation Friday evening before commencement, which triggered so many thoughts of everything I had experienced in her classroom in 1999."  -- Read the Full Article

Test Us On Critical Thinking

North Jersey Media Group -- May 29, 2007
by Sandra Meola

"Thomas Edison once said, ' Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.' To students, grades are just that: painful work, and no fun. While it is true that students who spend more time on their homework excel and benefit academically more than those who stare at the television for hours straight, there are times when the work and stress load align to be an impossible burden. The constant shove from parents can actually destroy the opportunity and crush the motivation to be an educated individual ... To me, grades are not a matter of intelligence whatsoever. Most of the material students are tested on often has no later practical use. For example, students should not be measured by whether they know about the history of Kansas or can tell the difference between a cubic and a quadratic equation, especially when this very information is memorized the night before the test, last minute, and then seeps out of their brains a few minutes after they hand in the test paper ... Instead, students should be measured on how they interpret the information they are given and how they use it in their everyday lives. Rather than constant multiple choice tests, students should be able to use their minds in some sort of critical thinking test that proves that they have learned the material to get those hard-earned grades." -- Read the Full Article

Yankee Ingenuity: New WIU Campus Can Help Produce New Entrepreneurs

Quad-Cities Online -- May 29, 2007
by Thomas Erekson, Western Illinois University

"In the 1700s the vast natural resources, a free enterprise system, and hard working people seeking a better life laid the foundation for the United States and helped to fuel the industrial revolution. The result has been the development of a society and nation that is unparalleled in economic power. Today, however, our nation and its economy are in a state of tension as we have entered the global marketplace and the information age ... Historically, ' Yankee ingenuity ' was the result of enterprising people who sought, and found, innovative solutions to practical problems. Often, the educational attainment of these 18th and 19th century innovators was limited to primary school, but they had a wealth of practical experience gained through working on the farm or in solving problems to conquer the frontiers ... Tom Kelley, the general manager of IDEO, the nation’s leading design firm, notes that innovation is central to competitiveness in the global marketplace. In fact, Kelley considers innovation ' the single most important ingredient in a modern economy ' ... To have innovation (Yankee ingenuity) happen in the modern economy we need creative problem solvers who have well-developed critical thinking skills. New age problem solvers need to have knowledge of principles, factors, processes, languages, and so forth. They also will need an understanding of technology and its prospects, promises and impacts ... Of course, knowledge without action (doing) is not Yankee ingenuity, as the ingenious Yankees ' made things happen.' Tom Kelley noted that all good working definitions of innovation pair ideas with action." -- Read the Full Article

Language, Cultural Studies Gains More Focus at Service Academies

Kansas City InfoZine -- May 29, 2007
American Forces Press
by Donna Miles

"Gen. George Washington would probably roll over in his grave if he knew the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. -- the school he advocated to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign military expertise -- is increasingly sending its cadets overseas to learn with and from their foreign counterparts ... Times have changed since Washington led the charge for academic institutions that would free American forces from foreign dependence ... ever-increasing numbers of cadets and midshipmen are studying and majoring in humanities and social sciences, with a growing emphasis being put on regional studies and language instruction ... The goal, academy officials said, is to ensure graduates have not only a solid technical foundation critical to military operations, but also other skills they'll need to enter a wartime force deployed around the world ...  Army Col. Dan Ragsdale, vice dean at West Point, said regional studies and language training in the curriculum help develop critical thinkers able to look at the issues they will confront as military officers through a wide-angle lens." -- Read the full Article

Canada's New Government Funds Literacy

CCNMathews (News Distribution Expterts) -- May 29, 2007

Ottawa, ON — "The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, on behalf of the Honourable Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, today announced funding of $186,000 for a project that will provide workplace-based training to members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) ... Under this project, titled Learning at Work, CUPE will provide workplace-based literacy and essential skills learning opportunities for members who deliver important public services and who face challenges in obtaining access to upgrading programs. The project will benefit CUPE members who serve Francophones living outside Quebec, Aboriginal people and workers in small and rural communities ... Workplace literacy is important because it contributes to the quality of life of individuals and is a critical factor to Canada's social and economic well-being. Workplace literacy refers to the essential skills that people require at work, such as reading, writing and math. It also includes critical thinking and problem-solving." -- Read the Full Ariticle

Richmond School to Add Laptops

Richmons Times-Dispatch -- May 29, 2007
by Olympia Meola

"St. Catherine's School rising seventh-graders can add laptops to their fall school-supply list ... The Richmond private school has plugged into a growing list of schools adding computer programs that put a laptop in the hands of every student ... The St. Catherine's move to require students to lease an Apple MacBook comes as a New York school system's choice to scrap its laptop program has reignited the national debate about the effectiveness of such technology initiatives ... Also a component of the evaluation is the development of students' learning skills, such as researching and reliable sourcing ...' One of the basic critical-thinking skills is uncovering assumptions and assessing reliable sources,' said Sue Baldwin, director of St. Catherine's Middle School. " -- Read the Full Article

Free Internet Vital to Avoid Becoming a Nation of Sheep

Hernando Today -- May 29, 2007
by Dr Domenick Maglio

"America has gone from a nation of hard working independent individuals to an educationally credentialed bureaucratic people. Modern Americans are so harried trying to impress each other in order to gain acceptance and advancement that they have no time to think about long term personal issues and less to think about local and national ones. Following the latest fads in dress, entertainment and celebrity political causes is easier than developing one's own opinion based on facts. We are a nation of people who are vulnerable to conform to the power elite's agenda ... Today many young adults are perennial teenagers. These aspiring young people have to spend years on the university level before they can even begin to practice their chosen career ... They have to attend many hours in opinion classes, which turn into years. Instead of the instructors talking about how things work and are used in their specialty they opine about how the world should be. In other words they are B.S. courses ... Students are required to go along with the ranting or risk failing the course. The drip-by-drip drivel is the price of indoctrination. It does not encourage critical thinking. It dulls the brain, preparing individuals for passive acceptance of propaganda ... The pervasive media through headline news, polls and dubious studies continues the process of "group think." The secular brainwashing is constant. God, family, marriage, the work ethic, personal responsibility are bad ... Americans are becoming less people who make judgments from observation of reality, and more people who make judgments based on the emotional response to a sound bite. Analyzing factual evidence and logic take too much work." -- Read the Full Article

Moving Beyond General Education

The Kansas City Star -- May 28, 2007
by David L. Sallee

"ON WILLIAM JEWELL COLLEGE ... Like vitamins or daily exercise, the general-education courses at many colleges and universities have long been viewed by entering students as something that the institution thought was just “good for them,” in large part because we have had no vehicle to convincingly demonstrate their value to students in their careers and personal life ... But successful college graduates and employers already know that asking students to study a series of unrelated, general-education courses and focus their education narrowly on their major does not adequately prepare young Americans to succeed in the competitive job market and in the evolving world economy ... Beginning with the class of 2008, Jewell is offering our students the option of translating their core requirements into a new “Applied Critical Thought and Inquiry” (ACT-In) major that emphasizes experiential learning and specific learning outcomes. Students who complete this major will have the life-enriching benefits of hands-on experience and a course curriculum that is designed to develop critical thinking skills ... Students who choose to make the core curriculum a major will also be required to have a major in a particular academic discipline, meaning they will graduate in four years with a double major." -- Read the Full Article

My Speach at the Creation Museum Ralley

FriendlyAthiest.Com -- May 28, 2007

"Here’s what I said on Sunday night for the ' pre-rally' against the complete ignorance of the Creation Museum. The actual rally will take place today morning ... Who knew there would come a day when Intelligent Design would be seen as a step up from anything?... Unfortunately, here we are, at the opening of this Creation Museum. Apparently, this is a museum full of hard facts and evidence. In fact, listen to what Answers in Genesis co-founder Mark Looy said in Friday’s Columbus Dispatch when asked how the Tree of Life portion of the Garden of Eden exhibit came about, since there’s no fossilized evidence revealing what the Tree actually looked like ... ' We just made it up,' Looy said ...Facts. Lots of facts ... I’m offended by this museum for a number of reasons ... As a high school teacher, I’m upset that students might consider this a worthy source for information since it’s a 'museum' and it has the support of a handful of people with the letters Ph.D. after their name ... As the chair of the Secular Student Alliance, I’m shocked that a fringe religious group can claim that their world-view is a legitimate alternative to science and be taken seriously by the media that doesn’t know any better. As a science advocate, I’m sad that there will be young kids lacking critical thinking skills who will be suckered into thinking any of these exhibits actually reflect current scientific thought.  As a person who appreciates honesty, I’m distressed that museum visitors are essentially being told that the scientists who talk about fossils that are millions of years old and biologists who write peer-reviewed papers in support of Darwinian evolution are lying to you." --Read the Full Article

Fundamentalism for Atheists

The Huffington Post -- May 27, 2007
by Byron Williams

"Thank god for Christopher Hitchens ...  The extremely erudite writer for Vanity Fair and other publications has written a polemic against faith and in doing so, provides everyone, regardless of belief, another opportunity to re-examine themselves, which is always a useful exercise ...  In his book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hitchens argues that religion is the original sin. He manages to find fault with the theological beliefs of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, the Dali Lama and Martin Luther King, Jr ...  Yet, in order to make his argument work, Hitchens must construct an ecumenical straw man, which proves a less-than-worthy adversary for Hitchens' keen mind and witty prose. For Hitchens, people of faith are tantamount to the Stepford Wives, who pathetically relinquished their ability to think critically in exchange for the vague promise of eternal life ...  Perhaps what I find most troubling is Hitchens, whose work over the years I greatly admire, reveals himself as nothing more than the inverse of what he claims to abhor. His intolerance for people of faith rivals that of Christian fundamentalists like the late Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson ...  Just as Falwell and Robertson offer a faith with no room for gays, feminists or liberals, Hitchens responds by offering a world with all of its scientific and technological advances with no room for people of faith ... For Hitchens, it is intellectually inconsistent for critical thinking to coexist with deeply held spiritual values."  -- Read the Full Article

Look Out Deep Blue, Here Comes Girl Power

Santa Cruz Sentinel -- May 27, 2007
by Matt King

Santa Cruz, CA — "Eight-year-old Brynn Jones is a girl of enthusiasm ["I love chess!], wavering concentration ["My move? It is? What did you do?"] and a healthy competitive spirit ["If you win all the people you get a big trophy. I've got one at home"] ... Brynn has been playing chess for more than three years. She likes to play "because it involves your brain a lot, and that's what I like to do ' ... At the second annual All-Girls Scholastic Chess Tournament at Westlake Elementary Saturday, Jones was one of 30 girls competing in a round-robin for kids in kindergarten through eighth grade. The tournament is the creation of Gjon Feinstein, who's been teaching chess in the county for 13 years ... Feinstein called chess 'a cultural bridge' that brings people from around the world together in a fun and competitive way while developing higher-order problem solving skills and critical thinking." -- Read the Full Article

SLO's Laureate Bought for $2.475M

The Tribune -- May 27, 2007
by Leah Etling

SanLuisObispo, CA — "The Laureate Private School in San Luis Obispo has been sold for $2.475 million and will close escrow next month, the school’s principal and new owner announced Friday ... In an interview with The Tribune, Laura Lehmann, the principal and a founder of the school, and Uwe J. Gemba, the buyer and CEO of Eucasia Schools Worldwide, made news of the sale public for the first time ... The sale price includes the school business as well as its campus on 10 acres off O’Connor Way outside San Luis Obispo. Tuition at the school is $600 a month for kindergarten through eighth-graders ... Gemba, a native of Germany who has worked as headmaster and in business development for schools around the globe, said most of the school’s traits — strong academics, a positive approach to discipline and development of students’ critical-thinking skills — will remain the same. " -- Read the Full Article


WCFCourier.Com (The Cedar Valley's Home Page) -- May 27, 2007
by Emily Christensen

Cedar Falls — "Ryan Hickerson is a wanted man ... The 26-year-old was one of only a handful of students to graduate from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in physics this spring. His interest in math and science likely would have yielded him big bucks in the competitive private sector, but instead Hickerson chose a path less taken ...  He decided to use his education to teach others ...  As more private sector careers require degrees in math and science, fewer graduates choose teaching as their profession. Perks like winter and summer vacations can no longer compete with the high-dollar salaries that often accompany other career options. Experts say this shift is causing problems in school districts across the nation ...  ' I have superintendents and building administrators who say we once had 300 applicants for a job opening. Now they have 20,' said Linda Nelson, president of the Iowa State Education Association ... ' We are already seeing signs of not necessarily failure, but of falling behind internationally,' said Jeff Weld, an associate biology professor at UNI. ' Our test scores in math and science are, it would be kind to say, dismal compared to some other nations' scores.' ... In 2001, the American Association for the Advancement of Science released Project 2061, an initiative to advance literacy in science, math and technology. The effects of failure are already being felt in some places ... Major U.S. companies are outsourcing engineering positions. American students aren't posting satisfactory scores on standardized math and science tests. Art teachers are filling in for physics teachers in schools across the nation ...  The state's three universities are also looking at ways to recruit more students into this teaching field. The Board of Regents recently asked UNI President Benjamin Allen to head up a Mathematics and Science Education Collaboration that would find ways to do just that .... ' More than 50 percent of the computer and electrical engineers in Silicon Valley are nonresidents,' Allen said. ' IBM is investing billions and billions of dollars in India ' ... ' This is our Sputnik,' Weld added ... Sputnik was the world's first artificial satellite launched into space in 1957 by the Russians. The launch marked the start of the space age and also ushered in a new era of competition between the U.S. and Russia in all things related to math, science and technology ... ' These things aren't quite the same as a Sputnik going up, but collectively, it actually looks scarier to me,'  Allen said. 'This is the kind of thing where you say you can't fail ' ... Weld said the impact won't just be economic ... ' There is also a much more cerebral impact, which is the critical thinking, logical thinking capacity, informed voter capacity ... the wise consumer at the grocery store. The functioning citizen in a scientifically and mathematically reliant society is really disadvantaged if this should continue,'  Weld said." -- Read the Full Article

Does America Have a Gender Gap in Pay? No

The Kansas City Star -- May 26, 2007
by Mark Perry

Flint, MI — "A recent study by the American Association of University Women suggests women earn only 80 percent of their male counterparts a year after graduating from college — a figure that drops to only 69 percent after 10 years ... In fact, the association says the pay gap is larger for college graduates than the population as a whole, and it blames a part of the pay gap on sex discrimination ... Before women in the graduating class of 2007 become discouraged about a lifetime of unchecked sex discrimination and substandard wages, they should apply some of the critical thinking skills they learned in college and question the association’s assertions." -- Read the Full Ariticle

A Spectacular New Idea: Encyclopedia of Life

dot-Org -- May 26, 3007
by Paul Botts

"A while back I mused about a new basic category of non-profit, something like ' macro archives.'  A couple of weeks ago a spectacular new example of that impulse was made public, called the Encyclopedia of Life ...  Funded by several large foundations and led by a veritable who's who of conservation and ecology heavyweights, the EOL aims to bring together all knowledge about the world's 1.8 million species of plants, animals and fungi (a list which continues, of course, to grow). The wiki-based model they are using seems ideal for the purpose, though unlike Wikipedia this one's content will be professionally moderated -- so one interesting question will be just what the qualifications are to contribute information. (In the U.S., U.K. and a few other places they will have to figure out how to deal with information from legions of serious amateur restorationists and ecologists.) ...  To provide depth behind the portal page for each species, the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), a consortium that holds most of the relevant scientific literature, will scan and digitize tens of millions of pages of the scientific literature that will offer open access to detailed knowledge. In fact, the BHL now has scanning centers operating in London, Boston, and Washington DC, and has scanned the first 1.25 million pages for the Encyclopedia ... Scanning such vast piles into modern digital technology is a huge step forward towards that "Star Trek shipboard computer" fantasy: letting machines carry out the gruntwork of collecting and sorting information so that human ingenuity can be devoted entirely to the analysis and critical thinking which makes us unique in our world ...  the BHL now has scanning centers operating in London, Boston, and Washington DC, and has scanned the first 1.25 million pages for the Encyclopedia." -- Read the Full Article

My Week: Richard Dawkins

The Guardian -- May 26, 2007
by Richard Dawkins

"I went to Galapagos as guest lecturer of the Centre for Inquiry (CFI), an American charity devoted to secular humanism and critical thinking, whose members paid handsomely to enable the CFI to book a whole ship, the Santa Cruz, and explore Galapagos in Darwin's footsteps. As you'd expect, this was an intelligent crowd, who gave me a lively time in the questions after my three lectures." -- Read the Full Article

Test-takers, Not students

Los Angeles Times -- May 26, 2007
by Janet Ewell

"Test madness and centralized curriculum control squeeze creativity out of the classroom ... It is popular to blame the federal No Child Left Behind Act for California's educational woes, but our misery is largely homegrown and predates the 2001 law ... In a crescendo of circular logic, ' high-achieving schools ' have become those whose students are successful test-takers, without asking if they are prepared for work, for college, for citizenship or for a meaningful life ... The National Center on Education and the Economy reports that we lack workers who are 'creative and innovative, self-disciplined and well-organized.' Colleges complain that freshmen cannot think critically or write lucidly. As the center points out, "What gets measured is what gets taught' ... The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act requires states to choose tests to demonstrate their educational progress. Thirty-five states chose tests that include writing and open-ended questions, which do more to encourage literacy and critical thinking than filling in bubbles on a Scantron form. California chose to use its existing tests," -- Read the Full Article

How to (Really) Leave A Child Behind

New America Media (Expanding the News Lens Through Ethnic Media) -- May 26, 2007
by Linda Darling-Hammond

"Editor’s Note: As Congress begins to consider reauthorization of the Bush Administration's 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, The Nation asked Linda Darling-Hammond, a leading education expert, to examine the law, its consequences and prospects for improving the legislation ... When Congress passed George W. Bush's signature education initiative, No Child Left Behind, it was widely hailed as a bipartisan breakthrough--a victory for American children, particularly those traditionally underserved by public schools. Now, five years later, the debate over the law's reauthorization has a decidedly different tone. As the House and Senate consider whether the law should be preserved--and if so, how it should be changed--high-profile Republicans are expressing their disenchantment with NCLB, while many newly elected Democrats are seeking a major overhaul as well ... We badly need a national policy that enables schools to meet the intellectual demands of the twenty-first century. More fundamentally, we need to pay off the educational debt to disadvantaged students that has accrued over centuries of unequal access to quality education ... At base, the law has misdefined the problem. It assumes that what schools need is more carrots and sticks rather than fundamental changes ... Disincentives for Improving Learning. Even if NCLB funding were to increase, its framework does not allow for important structural changes--for example, a system of teacher preparation and professional development that would routinely produce high-quality teaching; curriculums and assessments that encourage critical thinking and performance skills; high-quality preschool education, libraries and learning materials; and healthcare for poor children. Instead, the law wastes scarce resources on a complicated test score game that appears to be narrowing the curriculum, uprooting successful programs and pushing low-achieving students out of many schools."  -- Read the Full Article

Las Positas Grad Nabs Honor: Heads to UC Berkeley

Tri-Valley Herald -- May 26, 2007
by Lea Blevins

Livermore, CA  — "With her trendy suede boots, denim skirt, highlighted hair and Mustang convertible, Lori Myers looks more like someone you'd meet at the mall than your future surgeon ... A Pleasanton native, Myers is graduating today with an associate's degree in psychology from Las Positas College in Livermore and transferring to the University of California, Berkeley, in the fall ... And while still an undergrad, Myers is proving to the education world she means business. In addition to 13 college awards and the top state award from the Alpha Gamma Sigma honor society, Myers is one of 51 transfer students nationwide to receive the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship ... She is the first Las Positas student to win the scholarship, which provides up to $30,000 per year to the university of the recipient's choice ... ' Berkeley was my dream school,' Myers said. ' I always wanted to go there' ... The scholarship application required the typical personal information along with recommendations, but also asked for multiple, critical-thinking essays and proof of her financial need. ' They wanted everything but a blood sample,' she joked." -- Read the Full Article

Young Philosophers Get to Grips with Life's Big Questions

Brisbane Times -- May 26, 2007
by Anna Patty

"A BLUE ball is rolled between 11-year-old primary school pupils who are seated in a circle as part of their philosophy lesson on the meaning of happiness ...There is no discussion of the ancient philosophers as the ball is passed from child to child. Receiving the ball is their cue to discuss concepts of fairness and questions such as ' What is art?' and ' What is beautiful and who decides?' ... The philosophy course was introduced at the school for year 5 and 6 students following the success of similar programs in Queensland ...The program was developed with Associate Professor Philip Cam from the department of philosophy at the University of NSW, who said philosophy should not be reserved for the final years of high school ... ' Philosophy is all about dealing with issues and problems for which there is not a single answer, so it prepares the students well for the real world,' he said ... Newington College also teaches applied philosophy as part of a year 7 subject called critical thinking. In years 8 to 10, philosophy is incorporated into the English course." -- Read the Full Article

Blended Learning a Recipe for Effective Education

The Jakarta Post -- May 26, 2007
by Moch. N. Kurniawan

"The number of internet users worldwide continues to grow, including in Indonesia. At home, according to an estimate by the Indonesian Internet Service Provider Association (Apjii), 16 million Indonesians were internet users in 2005, up from 11.2 million the year before ... This constant growth in internet use has influenced education, with online learning being introduced to Indonesian students in addition to conventional lessons and classrooms ... The difficulties with online learning are mostly technical. Slow internet connections, which can frustrate students during chat sessions, are common in developing countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. For this problem, there is nothing to do but wait for connection speeds to improve ... People who are not used to computer-based learning will also be resistant to online learning. This problem could be resolved by blended learning which accommodate the needs of conventional learning and at the same time encourages online learning ... Overall, I agree with Cheryl Borsoto, whose paper, Community of inquiry a precondition of higher learning in online journalism courses argues that there is an obvious interplay between the elements of social presence, cognitive presence and teaching presence as well as triggers for critical thinking and participation in the online learning of Ateneo de Manila University's blended learning program ... Borsoto concludes that the occurrence of social, cognitive and teaching presences showed that the potential was there for a high level of learning." -- Read the Full Article

Al Gore Urges Us to Think Differently

The Huffington Post -- May 26, 2007
by Steven G Brant

"I saw Al Gore interviewed by Charlie Rose last night at the 92nd Street Y in NYC. Here's what I took away from the evening (in addition to my autographed copy of his new book): Al Gore knows that We The People are going to have to think differently if we are going to get out of the mess we are in ... And he knows that this is a systemic challenge, not just the result of a few bad people who are "doing it to us" from their positions of power in Washington ... Al Gore has -- I believe -- transcended the victim mentality that so many people (to the delight of the legal profession, which encourages this kind of thinking) have bought into here in America. He knows that we have a socio-political system which is designed to work, but that there are a great many factors -- not just some "bad people" -- that are preventing it from working the way our Founding Fathers intended it to ... In writing The Assault on Reason, Al hopes to wake us all up to the danger of continuing the anti-fact and anti-truth, emotion-driven thinking habits we have slipped into since television became a dominant part of our culture. (Last night he mentioned the Nixon -- Kennedy debate of 1960 as one of the early markers of this journey, when image began to be as important to the public as substance.) He realizes that unless we regain the ability to focus on facts and truth (I would call it science instead of pseudo-science), we will fail to address the challenge of global climate change, something we are rapidly running out of time to deal with. Al said that he wrote this book because he knows we won't change how we deal with the environment until we -- as a culture -- start to think differently." -- Read the Full Article

Uncritical Thinking

Daily Times (A new voice for a new Pakistan)  -- May 26, 2007
by Saleem H Ali

"Similar to other social movements, religious motivation has often been linked to violence as well as building peace. Like any powerful human phenomenon, religion can be used to either end and has tremendous potential to instil pugnacity as well as cooperation ... Despite the release of policemen abducted by the Lal Masjid cadres, anxiety about the situation in Islamabad continues. The government is clearly in the most uncomfortable position in dealing with the problem, which requires, among other things, a look at 'absolutist' educational institutions and their rejection of critical reasoning ... Perhaps the starkest example of such an educational institution was the 'University of Dawah [evangelism] and Jihad' set up in the mid-eighties in Peshawar by Professor Abdurrab Rasul Sayyaf. The founder of this 'university' which produced acrimonious alumni such as Ramzi Yousef and whose aim it was, and remains, to quash critical reasoning has been one of the top warlords during the Afghan war and later the civil war. Since 2001 he has been vying for supremacy within the Karzai government. To call this institution a 'university' is particularly unfortunate ... This is not peculiar to a particular country or religion. Institutions that stifle critical reasoning and thrive on agenda-driven education can be found at many places ... In the United States, one of the leading lights of the evangelical movement with absolutist views about Christian supremacy, Reverend Jerry Falwell, died last week. His well-known Liberty University produced a legion of activists, many of whom have found employment in prominent government positions. Falwell was as much valorised by his disciples and with as much fervour as Maulana Ghazi of Lal Masjid is by his minions. While the tone of his messages was more measured, he clearly stirred militancy in his own way ... Consider that only a few days after his passing, a young student from Liberty was arrested with a cache of bombs. Authorities in Virginia indicated that Mark David Uhl intended to use the bombs to 'stop protesters from disrupting Falwell’s funeral' ... The use of educational institutions for political ends is a well-established tradition across cultures and societies. Exemplified recently by anti-war activism at universities in the West as well as the rise of Marxist movements in schools in South America or the Ayatollah ascendancy at Tehran University, institutions of learning are often places of revolution. Ideas invigorate young minds to action but Alexander Pope’s prescient observation of “a little learning being a dangerous thing” is just as true today. While the independence of educational institutions must be maintained, some level of quality assurance and critical reasoning is also essential to ensure that captive audiences of students are not manipulated." -- Read the Full Article

Practice Democracy at Home Before Trying to Export It

Times Herald-Record -- May 26, 2007

by Abraham Moses Genen

"For many years the propaganda machinery in the United States has promoted the illusion that we promote freedom, democracy and human rights. Many of us have allowed ourselves to accept that delusion without question. In actuality, our political leadership has regularly demonstrated that it is quite reluctant to expand our freedoms, our democracy and our human rights ... Our elected representatives usually represent those special interests that provide the bulk of their campaign finances far more than they represent their constituents. Shouldn't this be obvious to anyone who carefully examines our current system of governance and objectively engages in critical thinking?"  -- Read the Full Article

Putting The "War" In The War On Terror

National Review Online -- May 26, 2007
by James S. Robbins.

"It is true that there are problems associated with using the term "war" to describe this conflict. But we incur substantial risks when we stop thinking about it in those terms. This was evident in the 1990s, when the threat of terrorism was not taken seriously, and the counter-terrorism mission was defined doctrinally by the DOD as one of the 16 Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW). It wasn't war, it was other-than-war. Like non-dairy creamer, you didn't know exactly what it is, but you knew for certain what it was not. Because counterterrorism was seen through the lens of law enforcement, emphasis on process came to dominate it, to harmful lengths. The 9/11 Commission report's critique of the way information was stove-piped in the FBI, for example. Or the ' firewall' established by then-deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick that prevented intelligence sharing between foreign intelligence and domestic law enforcement agencies. It took the shock of 9/11 to cut through the bureaucracy and short-sighted policies to enable the kind of information sharing vital to defeating the terrorist threat ... As well, the 9/11 Commission said that the greatest failure in the 1990s was a failure of imagination. Our threat perception was inadequate, both in terms of enemy capabilities and intentions. We had constrained our thinking; it was stuck inside the box. Then came 19 hijackers with box cutters. " -- Read the Full Article

Deeper Study

Houston Chronicle -- May 25, 2007

"Proposals would add depth to student learning — and to testing ... Anyone who's seen exhausted youngsters drilling for TAKS tests, or stressed teachers trying to prepare them, knows something in our schools has gone amiss ... In the 20 years since accountability tests began tracking if schools were doing their job, the very nature of that job has become distorted. Instead of learning critical thinking and exploring new ideas, too many students merely learn to take a test. Equally worrisome, TAKS — a diagnostic tool — is now a major driver in school ratings that determine whether school doors will be kept open." -- Read the Full Article

The Shame of Segregated Schools

The News Observer (McClatchy-Tribune) -- May 25, 2007
by John Powell and Gary Orfield

"The U.S. Supreme Court should not retreat on school integration. The high court is looking at whether the Louisville, Ky., and Seattle school systems, which relatively recently desegregated their public schools, have negatively affected white students. The case was argued in December. If the court now rules against the desegregation efforts of these schools, it will be a major setback to racial equality in America ... Schools with segregated minority student populations have significantly unequal educational resources and outcomes. That includes inferior teacher quality and stability, when compared with predominantly white suburban schools. Segregated minority schools also tend to have lower graduation rates, larger class sizes, lower levels of parental involvement, inadequate facilities, outdated materials and equipment, and fewer counselors and other staff ... Sadly, adults whose life chances are reduced by segregated education often transmit that inequality to their children, creating generational cycles of poverty ... If we acknowledge that integrated public education is not a private right, but rather a public good and a public interest, then we should remain open to state and local government efforts to achieve this good ... Integrated schools are better equipped than segregated schools to prepare students for effective citizenship in a pluralistic society ... Integrated schools and desegregated schools strengthen social cohesion and reinforce democratic values ... Integrated schools promote cross-racial understanding, reduce prejudice and improve motivation, critical thinking skills, academic achievement, test scores, graduation rates and college enrollment." -- Read the Full Article

Diocese Delays Vote on Film Ban

The Enquirer (Cincinnati.Com) -- May 25, 2007
by Amanda Van Benschoten

Covington — "The Diocese of Covington Board of Education postponed a vote Thursday on a proposal to ban R-rated films and many PG-13 rated films from being shown in diocesan schools ... ' I think we have a responsibility to the parents, to those who support one side or another, to do more homework,' said Chairman Dennis Scanlon. 'This is not something we've had the opportunity to dig into ' ...  The policy, chiefly for the nine diocesan high schools, would ban films rated R and those rated A-III or higher by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The A-III rating includes many PG-13 rated films ... Several board members said they would favor such policies rather than a blanket ratings ban ... ' I think there's got to be an alternative that meets the needs of everybody,' said Vice Chairman John Lonneman. 'Unfortunately the life we live in is not G-rated all the time ' ... The board's decision came after it received complaints from teachers that banning films would stunt students' education ... Banned films would include classics like ' The Great Gatsby,' 'All The President's Men,' 'West Side Story,' 'A Streetcar Named Desire' and 'Of Mice and Men,' in addition to modern films like 'Schindler's List,' 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'The Passion of the Christ ' ... Nancy Bradley, a member of St. Agnes Parish and teacher for 27 years in Northern Kentucky public and private schools, said viewing such films not only enhances the learning experience, but teaches high school students critical thinking skills ... ' I think that when we restrict ideas and we restrict the presentation of those ideas - whether in film or in books - we're treading on dangerous ground,' she said. ' I believe that film is a viable medium for teaching students, especially students as media-centered as they are today '... The issue will likely come up again at the board's June 28 meeting, the last one until October." -- Read the Full Article

Parents Values Differ if Students Are in High Poverty or Affluent Schools

PNN Online (The Nonprofit News and Information Source)  -- May 25, 2007
by Caleb Offley

When it comes to teachers, what do parents value most -- high student test scores or the ability to keep students satisfied? The answer depends in part on what kind of school you go to, according to a new study in the summer issue of Education Next ... According to economists Brian A. Jacob of the University of Michigan and Lars Lefgren of Brigham Young University, parents in high-poverty schools strongly value a teacher’s ability to raise student achievement and appear less concerned about student satisfaction. In more-affluent schools the results are reversed: parents most value a teacher’s ability to keep students happy ... Jacob and Lefgren’s findings suggest that different socioeconomic groups are likely to react quite differently to accountability policies, such as those embodied in No Child Left Behind ... 'Our findings suggest that what parents want from school is likely to depend on the educational context in which they find themselves,' Jacob and Lefgren write. In low-income schools where academic resources are scarcer, motivated parents are more likely to request teachers based on their perceived ability to improve academic achievement. On the other hand, in higher-income schools parents seem to respond to the relative abundance of academic resources by seeking out teachers who also increase student satisfaction. This may reflect parental preferences for having their children enjoy school, Jacob and Lefgren speculate, or parental preferences for teachers who emphasize academic facets that increase student satisfaction but are not captured by standardized test scores, such as critical thinking and curiosity." -- Read the Full Article

Intolerance is Alive and Very Well

AltMuslim -- May 25, 2007
by Connie Tuttle

"It's been more than 300 years since the satirist and clergyman Jonathan Swift wrote, ' We have just Religion enough to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.' The truth of those words, as evidenced by three centuries of ever-more technologically sophisticated warfare, may partially explain the current spate of anti-God books littering the marketplace. It's too bad ... God, after all, is not the problem. Self-righteous, fearful and ignorant followers of any religion willing to employ death as a tool of faith, as a measure of the depth of belief, are the problems. There is no institutionalized Western religion exempt from the historical fact that some of its adherents became zealots prepared to kill themselves and others for their ideology ... how many consumers of American media (myself included) are even aware of sites such as News flash: There are intelligent and thoughtful Muslims; there are Muslims who can engage in critical thinking; not everyone who prays to Allah wants to turn the planet into a fundamentalist Islamic theocracy where women are stoned and young men dream of jihad." -- Read the Full Article

Finkelstein’s Fate

MWC (Media with Conscience) -- May 25. 2007
by Robert Jensen

"For two years I have served at the University of Texas at Austin on the faculty committee on 'academic freedom and responsibility,' a pairing of concepts that is common in higher education. While there is a fairly broad consensus on what ' freedom' means, competing conceptions of 'responsibility' lead to two very different ideas about the appropriate role for professors in public life ... On one side is the conventional (which tends to be cowardly), and on the other is the principled (which tends to be progressive). Norman Finkelstein, the controversial DePaul University political scientist, is in trouble because he not only believes in, but puts into practice, this principled interpretation ... By the promotion standards of universities such as DePaul, Finkelstein clearly deserves the job security that comes with tenure. But we all have a stake in his fate -- if we want universities to be a place where critical thinking is encouraged." -- Read the Full Article

Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Marxism

Political Affairs (Marxist Thought Online) -- May 24, 2007
by Thomas Riggins, Editor of PA

"Why is it so difficult to build a Marxist mass movement in the US? There are Marxist movements of considerable size, in comparison to the US, both in many Third World nations and in countries more advanced than the US. Not only is Marxism seemingly at a disadvantage in the US but a scientific world outlook is similarly hindered with respect to a favorable growth outlook. At the same time many views and outlooks characteristic of medieval obscurantism (fundamentalist religious beliefs – for example), blatant superstition (astrology), superficial intellectually childish 'philosophical' trends (Ayn Rand, Deepeck Chopra, etc.), are flourishing ... There may a scientific explanation for Adult Resistance to Marxism (ARM.  In this article I will explore the causes of ARM ... The scientific information on which this article is based is critically culled from the article 'Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science' by Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg (SCIENCE 18 May 2007 VOL 316) ... It is the fact that our ruling class is not committed to a universal scientific education for children ... antiscientific outlooks, as well as ARM, will only be eliminated by a reorganization of the educational sysyem, especially early childhood education, with an emphasis on independent critical thinking, scientific method, and the banning of religious propaganda." -- Read the Full Article

Project Brings Children's Books to Young Arab Readers

Voice of America -- May 24, 2007

First-Generation Students Decreasing

Daily Bruin (UCLA) -- May 24, 2007

"Fernando Mejia was just happy to graduate high school ... Unlike his peers who had taken the SAT and applied to colleges, Mejia, a recent immigrant from Mexico, was still struggling with his English ... He said it was not until the end of high school when a guidance counselor reviewed his work and said he had the potential to succeed in higher education that he began to see opportunities for the future at a community college and later a four-year university ... 'I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have the skills to think critically, to write and speak well,' Mejia, a third-year art history student, said ... But as a first-generation college student, Mejia represents a decreasing demographic in college admissions ... According to a new survey study released by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA about incoming college freshman based on data collected between 1971 and 2005, there was a decrease in the overall number of first-generation college students in that period ... When surveys used to gather information from hundreds of universities were first distributed in 1971, 38.5 percent of respondents were the first members of their families to attend college. Over the years, that percentage steadily declined and in 2005, only 15.9 percent reported being first-generation college students." -- Read the Full Article

No Child Left Behind Could Get Boost For Tech

Information Week -- May 24, 2007
by K C Jones

"U.S. lawmakers have moved to make sure no child is left behind when it comes to technology instruction ... U.S. Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, Judy Biggert, R-Ill., and Ron Kind, D-Wisc., introduced the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation (ATTAIN) Act. The bill would require states to assess students' technology literacy by eighth grade ... The Consortium for School Networking, the International Society for Technology in Education, the Software & Information Industry Association, and the State Educational Technology Directors Association, have backed the bill, which is proposed as part of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act ... 'We cannot ignore education technology's value in developing critical thinking skills and media literacy into this and future generations of students,' Rep. Kind said in a prepared statement. 'We all want our students, and this country, to compete effectively and succeed in the global marketplace. Education technology is a key component to achieving those goals.'" -- Read the Full Article

UNF Leaders Find a Model for Future at University in Ohio

The Times-Union -- May 24, 2007
by William Bainbridge

"Higher education leaders may see little similarity between the University of North Florida and Ohio University ... But UNF leaders have found major ones with Miami University in Ohio. It has a rich history as one of the nation's oldest and most distinguished public universities ... Miami, founded in 1809, is rated 'more selective' by the infamous, yet well read, U.S. News & World Report. It served 14,643 undergraduate students this year ... has an endowment of over $282 million ...  charges a whopping annual $23,000 in-state tuition and $8,140 for room and board ... UNF, by comparison, is a neophyte university, was founded in 1965, is rated 'selective' and served 13,410 undergraduate students this year. UNF has an endowment of only $53 million and is a bargain at $3,352 in-state tuition and $6,773 for room and board ... UNF President John Delaney is well aware that Florida already has a few exceptional research universities, such as his two-time alma mater, the University of Florida, and its rival, Florida State University ... At such research universities, professors tend to have lighter teaching loads and heavier responsibilities for research ... As Delaney puts it, 'Research universities solve important local and statewide problems such as how to clean up the St. Johns River and grow more oranges' ... The former Jacksonville mayor also knows that research should not be the primary focus at UNF ... Delaney and his colleagues recently visited Miami University to see what UNF could learn from the public university near Cincinnati and Dayton. There are significant differences between the schools ... Qualities of Miami that Delaney views as a model for UNF include ... Focus on outstanding teaching for undergraduates ... Professors who really get to know their students and help develop critical thinking." -- Read the Full Article

Blogs, Chatrooms are Learning Tools

The Brunei Times -- May 24, 2007
by Wani Abdul Gapar

"Blogs and online discussion boards should be considered as alternative means of conducting lessons in the Bruneian education system ... Virtual classrooms can be set up to teach students as well as creating opportunities for them to develop critical thinking skills, said presenters yesterday at the 12th International Conference on Education held at Universiti Brunei Darussalam ... " -- Read the Full Article

Creating the Online Infidel Library

Foehmer's Anvil (100% Politically Incorrect) -- May 24, 2007

"The idea of using the Internet to spread critical thinking isn’t new, although it is not always directly linked to Islam ... In Arabic, 'Internet' Means 'Freedom' ... Somewhere in Baghdad a man is working in secrecy to edit new Arabic versions of liberal classics. He has made Arabic translations of more than two dozen articles and nine books and booklets. Sponsored by the Cato Institute, he joins a small but growing assortment of Arabic-language blogs promulgating liberal ideas. 'No more than 10,000 books were translated into Arabic over the entire past millennium,' says the U.N., 'equivalent to the number translated into Spanish each year.' 'The Internet is a historical opportunity for Arab liberalism, 'Pierre Akel, the Lebanese host of one such site,, said. 'In the Arab world, much more than in the West, we can genuinely talk of a blog revolution.' The U.N. report notes that in the Arab world—a region of 284 million—a book that sells 5,000 copies qualifies as a best-seller. The Internet, in contrast, makes possible worldwide, instant distribution, at a nearly negligible cost." -- Read the Full Article

Tech, Science Plus 3 Rs Fit in New Program

Princeton Daily Clarion -- May 24, 2007
by Andrea Howe

Princeton — "Their task was to begin thinking about designing a Roman bath ... Granted, Princeton Community Middle School sixth graders might need some help envisioning a stadium-sized building with Olympic-size pools, shops and saunas ...  Mike Motta cued up a program from The History Channel which explored the work of ancient architects, giving the class some background to color their canvas ... Motta said students will learn engineering and other critical thinking skills, envisioning projects on trial sketches, using math to arrive at dimensions and computer programs like Autodesk Inventor and Robo-Pro for robotics units." -- Read the Full Article

Thinking Out of the Box for Maths and Science

The Star -- May 24, 2007
by Thandi Skade

Cape Town, SA — "Despite over-crowded classrooms, with numbers reaching a high of 48 children per class, learners from Mohlodi Primary School in Thokoza are energised and starved for knowledge ... Mahlomola Moloi, the Grade 7 teacher, explains that the skills tested and activities are 'specific, measurable and time bound' ... Moloi also emphasised the significant improvement in learner participation, interest and marks since Mohlodi Primary School started using the Out of the Box programme ...  Out of the Box is an environmental education programme designed to teach Grade 4-7 pupils maths, science and English in an interactive and interesting way ... Initiated just three years ago, the programme is currently being used by 35 000 learners and 2 500 teachers in 205 schools across the country and uses learners' interest in the natural world to teach analytical skills and critical thinking, while instilling a sense of environmental responsibility." -- Read the Full Article

Better Educators the Key to Better Education

The Daily Star -- May 23, 2007

"The prime minister of the United Arab Emirates took aim at much of what is wrong with the region over the weekend when he announced the creation of a $10 billion fund to support education. Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who also vice president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, said Saturday that the Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum Foundation was an important step in the "development of knowledge." He also cited statistics compiled by the United Nations indicating that the Arab world's burgeoning population will require the creation of approximately 80 million jobs over the next 20 years ... For far too long, the Arab world has been shaped and influenced by elites so removed from the daily challenges of their respective societies that many of them can no longer identify - much less solve - the problems affecting their neighbors. To make matters worse, the region's schooling systems have slowed the progress of change by not adequately encouraging and developing the critical-thinking skills required to recognize shortcomings in various aspects of governance." -- Read the Full Article

Envisioning Islamic Democracy

Middle East Online -- May 23, 2007
by Jocelyne Cesari, Islamic Studies: Harvard

Boston. MA  — "Islam is often perceived as a potential threat to democratisation, and justifications for this view tend to repeat ad nauseam the idea that for Islam, there is no separation between politics and religion ... In the West, politics based on individual rights (as opposed to the common good) and religion as independent of the state have marked the triumph of a liberal vision of the self within a secularised public arena. No similar movement has taken place in the Muslim world. It may be tempting, then, to consider the absence of this development as evidence that the Muslim mind is resistant to secularisation in toto ... There is currently no nation within the Muslim world that does not claim Islam as a foundational element of national unity. Within the Muslim world, Islam is either a state religion or it is under state control, even in ostensibly secular nations such as Turkey or Hussein-era Iraq. Therefore, the state is almost always the primary agent responsible for the authoritative interpretation of tradition. As a result, Islamic thought has lost a certain vitality, not only in questions of government, but also on issues of culture and society. Thus it is not that the so-called Muslim mind is naturally resistant to critical thinking, but rather that analysis and judgment have too often been the exclusive prerogative of political authorities." -- Read the Full Article

Welcome, Kids, to Brainwashing 101

The Province (Canada. Com Network) -- May 23, 2007
by John Martin

"An article in last Saturday's National Post details how an 18-year-old Ontario high school student sat through showings of Al Gore's error-laden film, An Inconvenient Truth, in four separate classes ... His teachers apparently presented the film as fact, and failed to incorporate any resources from the ever-growing inventory of opposing viewpoints on the climate-change debate ... And it's not happening just in Ontario. A plan is already well under way to put a copy of the pseudo-documentary in every B.C. high school  ... The truth is politically-correct orthodoxy and left-wing propaganda are routinely presented as legitimate content by educators ... Offering a balanced perspective with objective analysis, while encouraging critical thinking, is fast becoming obsolete in the classroom ... Rather, a new generation of educators have come to redefine their role as 'educating for social justice' ... This term implies educators have not only a right, but a responsibility, to attune and sensitize students to the crucial social issues and inequities of the day ... This may sound quite noble and righteous. But in practice it means teachers and professors can claim legitimate standing to intentionally use the classroom as a setting to shape young, impressionable minds." -- Read the Full Article

Getting Serious About Assessment

NCTE Conference on English Education -- May 23, 2007
by Don Zancanella

"About ten years ago, there seemed to be a great deal of interest in new assessments that would take us beyond multiple choice, beyond the recall of factual knowledge, and then along came NCLB and everything seemed to go backwards. But a piece in this week's Education Week ("Assessment in the Age of Innovation")suggests it may be time to get serious about good assessment practices again ... American students today are largely evaluated based on their factual knowledge. A recent study by Robert C. Pianta and his colleagues at the University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning found that the average 5th grader received five times as much instruction in basic skills as instruction focused on problem-solving or reasoning. Our existing assessment system tends to reinforce rote instructional practices emphasizing the drilling of facts likely to be on a test, rather than problem-solving and reasoning strategies difficult to capture in multiple-choice test items ... The new assessments will have to do the following ... Be largely performance-based. We need to know how students apply content knowledge to critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical tasks throughout their education, so that we can help them hone this ability and come to understand that successful learning is as much about the process as it is about facts and figures." -- Read the Full Article

Media and Public Allowed Bush to Blunder: Gore

CNews (Canoe Network) -- May 23, 2007
by Donna Marie Artuso, Sun Media

Washington — "Since his agonizing defeat by George W. Bush in 2000, Al Gore has transformed himself from the poor dork who got screwed out of the presidency into an uber-popular sold-out-every-night rock-star-calibre celeb who attracts hoards of Americans who publicly beg him to again run for president ... Beyond the greening of the globe, Gore has another cause. And it is the thesis of his latest book, released yesterday, in which he argues that logic and truth 'play a sharply diminished role' in the way America makes important decisions, points the finger of blame at the popular media (mostly TV), and suggests the Internet may be the forum that returns Americans to critical thinking ... In The Assault on Reason, Gore writes 'The persistent and sustained reliance on falsehoods as the basis of policy ... seems to ... have reached levels that were previously unimaginable ... It is too easy -- and too partisan -- to simply place the blame on the policies of President George W. Bush. We are all responsible for the decisions our country makes. ... We have checks and balances, free speech and a free press. Have they all failed us?'" -- Read the Full Article

Let’s Raise Our Educational System

The Daily Journal -- May 23, 2007
by Jerry Ness

"Just over two years ago, I had the privilege of participating in a group called the Superintendent Symposium, made up of 27 superintendents from districts throughout our state. During almost two years of meetings, we came to share a vision that would improve educational opportunities for students in Fergus Falls and every other community in Minnesota ... As we shared strategies for improving the school systems we lead, we came to recognize that we are all working toward — and struggling with — the same core challenge: preparing all students to succeed in the high-skill, hyper-competitive global information age ... Take a moment to dream about the time when today's Minnesota schoolchildren are young adults: Are they confident, able to learn, grow and contribute to the broader community and to the world? Are they equipped with the knowledge and critical thinking skills to participate fully (economically and socially) in the global information age?... Our vision is spelled out in “Minnesota's Promise: World-Class School, World-Class State.” Our goal in Minnesota's Promise is to develop a call to action that we hope will ultimately transform education in Minnesota for the global information age." -- Read the Full Article

Read Between the Lines on the FDA's CAM Guidelines

NewsTarget.Com (Information that empowers) -- May 23, 2007
by Mike Adams

"If you've been following the debate over the FDA's new CAM Guidelines that threaten to destroy natural medicine by regulating herbs, supplements and even vegetable juices as 'unapproved drugs,' you've no doubt heard the opposing opinion by some natural health commentators who claim the guidelines say nothing new. Some are even saying the CAM Guidelines are a 'non issue' and represent 'no big deal' ... As much as I appreciate the efforts and comments of others in the natural health world, I strongly disagree with their assessment on the CAM Guidelines. Here's why: Their assessment of the threat of the CAM Guidelines is based on a fatal flaw -- the assumption that the FDA will only look at these guidelines as a theoretical document and not take direct action on them. And as we've all seen, once guidelines are translated into action by any governmental organization, they immediately undergo an expansion that takes their application far beyond whatever original intent was written in the document ... I'm fairly certain that when lawmakers signed the Patriot Act, they weren't thinking of abortion rights protestors and animal rights activists, but laws have a way of expanding their scope far beyond their original intent. Thanks to the Patriot Act, the very act of sitting in a room with a friend and discussing the evils of the American government can get you labeled a terrorist engaged in a conspiracy (if anyone happens to be listening, of course).
" -- Read the Full Article

Winning by Default Again?

The Jamaica Observer -- May 22, 2007
by Betty Ann Blaine

"I continue to be amazed at the cacophony of silence surrounding how unethical the coming general election is, and the mockery of democracy that it represents. It's just incredible how involved so many bright people in this country are in the business of playing the election game of polls, predictions and analyses, without regard or appreciation for a deeper questioning of what is clearly a bankrupt political system ... What we have are two worn-out pieces of machinery called political parties which have been winning elections by default for longer than many of us may care to remember. Elections are not won in this country on substantive issues, platforms and track records, but on the parties sitting back and capitalising on the failure of the other ... As we approach the elections I have yet to hear of one single original or creative idea put forward by either side that could possibly move our country forward. But who is surprised when we have the same archaic and unenlightened thinking and thinkers? ... what is more distressing is that the country's intelligentsia, along with our so-called 'movers and shakers', continue to pontificate on platforms and in the media about growth and development and 'vision 20/20', as if those of us who are not fools can't see what is going on. It's either that they enjoy listening to themselves speak, or they're just plain dishonest, or both." -- Read the Full Article


Notes on Camp

The GreenGuide (National Geographic) -- May 22, 2007
by P.W. McRandle

"As summer vacation approaches, children get restless while their parents wonder what will keep them from logging weeks on their PlayStations. The traditional answer is to send the children off to summer camp—at one time a humane way to get kids out of the city heat and these days perhaps a life-saving means to get kids burning fat as they run and play in that mysterious realm: the out-of-doors ... From the host of summer camps—many devoted to developing particular skills in areas such as music, math or computer programming—consider picking one that will take full advantage of the benefits of the countryside, especially if it shows an understanding of the vital role learning from the natural environment plays in the child's development. As Stephen R. Kellert, professor at Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, notes, "Contact with nature is increasingly revealed as critical in childhood maturation and development." Vital at all stages in a child's development, direct contact with nature offers intense learning experiences that enhance problem-solving, critical thinking, responding to challenges, curiosity and creativity among other factors." -- Read the Full Article

Taking On The 'N' Word

NorthJersey.Com -- May 22, 2007
by David Bartley,

"Two years ago, the foulest, most degrading word in the English language had no effect on me ... Being African-American, I was one of the inner-city males who, over time, had become hardened to the word - the "N" word ... That was until a writing contest was announced at school. Students were encouraged to write an essay on a hypothetical situation that involved a school ban on the use of the "N" word ... The initial reaction students had to the contest was, 'Can we really write about this?' There seemed to be more interest in this particular contest than in any other contest that students had ever done. The chance to write an essay about the "N" word made fellow writers jump with excitement at the opportunity ... I became so immersed with writing the essay that I didn't meet the contest deadline. However, as editor-in-chief of my school newspaper, I have the opportunity to write editorials. The essay became the editorial for our February issue ... As I wrote the editorial, I used my critical thinking skills more than I ever had for an editorial." -- Read the Full Article

Chess-in-Schools More than Just a Game!

The Star Online (Castries, Saint Lucia) -- May 22, 2007

"The game of Chess continues to flourish in St Lucia with the organization of tournaments within some of the island’s schools. The Chess-in-Schools project being managed by the National Community Foundation (NCF) was implemented in November 2005 through a pilot project comprising nine schools. Interest in Chess has grown and to date twenty-five schools at all levels of the system are part of the Chess-in-Schools project ... The goal of the Chess-in-Schools project is to use chess as a medium to help develop critical thinking skills, build self-esteem, engender discipline, foster positive social skills, promote academic achievement and empower children to succeed. Chess has been shown to improve thinking skills as well as academic performance." -- Read the Full Article

Here we see an inclination to credit chess with an ability to develop thinking skills as opposed to recognizing critical thinking as the underlying foundation for learning how to play chess well. Just as critical thinking has no purpose without something to think about, chess is indeed a medium dependent on thinking for its tactical objectivity. Neither concept can function without the other. Learning to think critically enables a chess player to understand that tactical objectivity deeper, broader, better, and faster. Once understood, practiced and nurtured, critical thinking enables students to then apply that same tactical objectivity to learrning in other domains and disciplines across the curriculum.

Clever Ideas for Creative Thinking

ThomasNet Industrial News Room -- May 22, 2007
by David R. Butcher 

"Some ideas are brilliant and complex, while others are good and simple. Creativity may be a haughty term, but businesses need it to stay innovative and competitive. You can also approach brainstorming in a practical way. Here are some tips on how to get your creative juices flowing ... A new study reveals the height of a room can actually change the way people’s minds work. University of Minnesota researchers studying the effect of ceiling height have found higher ones stimulate creativity, while lower ceilings promote a subject’s attention to detail ... Twice a year, Bill Gates steps away from his responsibilities in a little ritual he calls Think Week. During each seven-day stretch of seclusion, he reads white papers from associates, ponders the future of technology and then propagates those thoughts. Most important, he thinks in an uncluttered environment ... Competitiveness and innovation are closely linked, of course, and innovation enables a firm to stay ahead of its competitors — yet, surely we cannot be expected to knock down the office ceiling to make room for a higher one, or go into total seclusion two weeks a year, in order to think creatively ... There are other ways to foster creative thinking, of course, both on a personal level and organization-wide." -- Read the Full Article

Seminars Encourage Students to Develop Problem-Solving Skills

The Anchorage Daily News -- May 22, 2007
by  Katie Pesznecker 

"Gina Mazany really hated high school ... Then she enrolled in the seminar program at Bartlett High. For Gina, now 18, that was a game-changing move ... Classes went from blah to cool, even exciting. The program's methods -- deep discussion, critical thinking, profound topics -- clicked with the intense, chatty teenager ...  'I'm not a reader at all,' Gina said. 'I'm terrible at reading. But this has really opened me up to enjoy reading. When I was in high school before, I hated it. ... But I love this program.'" -- Read the Full Article

Class StruggleL Why AP and IB Schools Soar

The Washington Post -- May 22, 2007
by Jay Mathews

"By the late 1990s, California voters and the University of California regents had banned admission preferences for minorities in the UC system, and several members of the faculty at the University of California-San Diego were not happy about it. Scholars like Cecil Lytle, Bud Mehan and Peter Gorovitch thought public universities had been created to break down the old barriers of race, privilege and class and give the state's most disadvantaged students the life-changing advantages of a higher education. What could they do? ... It seemed obvious to them. If the university was not allowed to admit low-income students who could not compete academically with advantaged middle class applicants, then the only alternative was to create public schools that would give those low-income and minority students the encouragement, good teaching and extra time they needed to make them just as ready for college as students from the better neighborhoods ... This week Newsweek is publishing its latest list of America's Best High Schools, based on a rating system called the Challenge Index I invented a decade ago. It ranks public high schools based on students' level of participation in AP, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge tests, since those programs are the best quantitative measure of a school's commitment to challenging every student and making high school more than just a credentialing and sorting exercise. The index started as my hobby and will likely remain so until I die, since it gives me an excuse to chat with educators all over the country about exciting new initiatives in public education like Preuss ... Preuss (rhymes with choice) is a 6th through 12th grade school. It took several years, building from the lower grades, to produce a full-size graduating class, one of the Challenge Index requirements, so this is the first time it has appeared on the Newsweek list. It debuts at No. 9 in the country, one of the highest first appearances ever ... professors have long known -- high school courses, even those labeled "honors" or "college prep," often demand little critical thinking or analysis, and yield good grades on the high school transcript for very little work. " -- Read the Full Article

Hindutva Lab to Test Clash-of-Civilisation Thesis

Indo-Asian News Service -- May 22, 2007

New Delhi  — "Gujarat, long seen as a laboratory for right-wing Hindutva ideology, is also the ideal place to evaluate the controversial idea of 'clash of civilizations', says an influential American philosopher and critic ... 'The case of Gujarat is a lens through which to conduct a critical examination of the influential thesis of the 'clash of civilizations', made famous by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington,' writes Martha C. Nussbaum of the University of Chicago in the latest issue of the journal 'Chronicle of Higher Education: Chronicle Review' ... The philosophy professor, whose book 'The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future' was published last week, notes in the journal article: 'What has been happening in India is a serious threat to the future of democracy in the world' ... For Nussbaum, the real 'clash of civilizations' is not between Islam and the West but instead 'within virtually all modern nations - between people who are prepared to live on terms of equal respect with others who are different, and those who seek the protection of homogeneity and the domination of a single 'pure' religious and ethnic tradition' ... Democracy would be in peril, when it will be run by 'docile engineers in the Gujarat mold, unable to criticize the propaganda of politicians and unable to imagine the pain of another human being' ... 'Americans have a great deal to gain by learning more about India and pondering the ideas of some of her most significant political thinkers, such as Rabindranath Tagore and Mohandas Gandhi, whose ruminations about nationalism and the roots of violence are intensely pertinent to today's conflicts,' believes Nussbaum." -- Read the Full Article

College Grads Faulted for Lack of Writing Skills

The Oklahoman -- May 22, 2007

"Recent college graduates aren't prepared in several crucial areas including professionalism, critical thinking and written communication, according to a survey of local business leaders ... The survey, prepared for Accord Human Resources by Wilson Research Strategies Inc., found that more than half of respondents, 52 percent, found professionalism lacking among job applicants. Forty-nine percent said critical thinking was lacking, while 42 percent said written communication skills weren't up to par ... When asked to rank the most important qualities sought among applicants, professionalism ranked 9.2 out of 10; critical thinking was 8.5; and written communications was 8.2. Other skills listed as important were ethics, teamwork and English-language skills ...  Accord, an Oklahoma City-based human resource company, has more than 700 clients in 44 states."

Heavenly Bodies

Cocktail Party Physics -- May 21, 2007
by Jennifer Ouellette

"The science blogosphere was all atwitter this weekend over some crackpot posting at Blogs-4-Brownback (politician Sam Brownback, that is), declaring heliocentrism to be a vile, atheist doctrine directly contradicted by the Holy Bible. I'm inclined to think this is some sort of elaborate joke, if only because I balk at the possibility that any carbon-based life form would be capable of such stupidity and/or willful ignorance.  Perhaps my faith in humanity is misplaced, but c'mon: the fact that the Earth revolves around the sun, and not the other way around, has been established scientific fact for several hundred years. Ergo, the poster is either yanking our collective chain, or has been neglecting to take his/her prescribed medication for quite some time ... It is true that the notion of a heliocentric solar system runs counter to certain biblical passages. The Protestant reformer Martin Luther helpfully pointed this out back in 1539, when Copernicus' "Little Commentary" -- the predecessor to De revolutionibus -- was making the rounds of astronomy circles. 'This fool wants to turn the entire science of astronomy upside down!' Luther blustered. (He was a blustery sort of fellow.) 'But as the Bible tells us, Joshua told the Sun, not the Earth, to stop in its path' ...  That's the kind of wrong-headed thinking that transpires when one tries to use a philosophical/religious text as a scientific treatise. Galileo said as much when he published his 'Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems' in 1632, arguing that the Bible should be used to teach people how to get to heaven, not as an instruction manual for how the heavens move. That, as much as anything, is what got him into trouble with the Catholic Church. Jen-Luc Piquant discovered that the anonymous nutcases at Conservapedia -- the new gold standard for willful ignorance and the trumping of scientific fact by fanciful wishful thinking -- insist in their entry on Copernicus that Galileo wasn't really persecuted for his heliocentric beliefs. Hmmm. I guess that whole house arrest thing at the end of his life was a case of self-imposed voluntary exile ... The Conservapedia entry is carefully phrased so as not to overtly espouse heliocentrism, but the contextual framing is clearly designed to sow the seeds of doubt in the mind of the reader (which is why critical thinking and familiarity with the strategies of disseminating effective propaganda are so very important). So maybe that Brownback blogger really is that stupid. Okay. Assuming the crackpots are correct (just for giggles), heliocentrism is a blasphemous doctrine espoused by atheists to discredit 'God's Word.' Since verification of the Copernican solar system came about with the invention of the telescope, then it, too, must be a tool for evil. And who invented the telescope? Could it be.... Satan?!?: -- Read the Full Article

Battle Between Old & New Media

Down The Avenue (Bringing Passion to Technology, Business & Life) -- May 21, 2007
by Kari

"This past weekend, I attended another panel in Berkeley that addressed the Battle Between Old and New Media. I refer to it as a battle because regardless of the fact that we, as an industry, have been discussing this at social media forums and events for the past few years, there's still an 'us and them' struggle, largely because reporters are losing their jobs (the SF Chronicle just announced a 25% cut in their newsroom by end of summer), newspapers are folding and old media continues to consolidate ...  I think many were thinking and perhaps even secretly hoping that this panel would be an 'on-the-edge-of-your-seat' heated debate with personal attacks because of Andrew's one-sided statements and his digs on Web 2.0 visionaries such as O'Reilly, Kelly, Anderson and Gillmor, who despite the attacks, showed up for this debate, but sat on the opposite side of the table ...  While I don't think the group offered enough solutions for how we handle the growing amateur content on the web, which is one of Keen's main points, everyone seemed to agree how important it is to teach kids critical thinking and how to build in a new BS meter for adults, particularly those new to the Internet." -- Read the Full Article

Let's Restrict Home Schooling

The Huffington Post -- May 21, 2007
by Russell Shaw


"With varying degrees of red-tape, home schooling is allowed in each and every one of our 50 states ... Obviusly there were and are political reasons for this. Lots of home-schooling parents run with the creationists. Creationists are easily led, and they vote ... But as to other reasons for this blanket surrender to home school advocates- I for one, have never understood why ...  Of course I know that our public school systems are plagued by problems ...  I'm not blind to the fact that many solid citizens have been home-schooled. I've even heard of home schoolers winning science fairs, and being accepted to prestigious colleges. Because I admit that home schooling works in some cases, I don't view myself as a bigot in that regard ...  I'm troubled by the fact that a significant percentage of home schooling parents choose this option because of an overriding feeling that they want their children to pursue curricula from theology or received wisdom rather than a scientific perspective ...  I wonder how many of these types of home-schooled kids take the assumptions of say, 6,500 year-old earths and other lack of respect for scientific inquiry into adulthood. Will these people be on equal preparatory footing for jobs where scientific inquisitiveness, technical insight or critical thinking skills are far more necessary than rote recitation?" -- Read the Full Article

The Commencement Speech That Alberto Gonzales Did Not Give

The Huffington Post -- May 21, 2007
by Coleen Rowley

"A funny thing happened on the way to this forum. A few weeks ago a Google hit popped up that told me I was not first pick for commencement speaker but that I had only been asked after embattled U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was unable to make it. Guess the Attorney General got too busy studying or something. So that reminded me of one of my favorite ethics quotes by Mark Twain who once said: "Never lie. And then you don't have to remember anything.' ...  Even though my law school experiences were no doubt different from my classmates and different from yours, I can tell you I learned a ton from law school -- things that have stuck with me for life and these are also the things that I think are most important for you to take from here too. I learned and developed the critical thinking skills that would land me, 22 years after graduation, on the cover of Time Magazine, twice, for revealing how 9-11 might have been prevented. But less than a year later the same critical thinking skills resulted in my being demoted one GS-level for publicly warning that the Iraq War would prove counterproductive." -- Read the Full Article

Proposal Requires Higher ACT Scores

The Kentucky Post -- May 21, 2007

"Incoming freshmen would have to achieve higher scores on entrance exams to be assured admission to credit-bearing courses at Kentucky's public colleges and universities under a proposal before the Council on Postsecondary Education ... The proposal calls for students who score below the new ACT thresholds to be given placement tests by the universities that pinpoint skills they need to improve. Universities would be required to provide the students with help their first semester on campus, including remedial courses, supplemental tutoring or so-called bridge programs allowing students to get extra assistance the summer before their fall semester ... Terri Cox-Cruey, director of secondary education in Kenton County Schools, said the changes under consideration are realistic ... 'We've been moving in that direction,' she said. The school system tracks student progress in higher education now, including a survey asking college students what they wish they had taken in high school to better prepare them ...'(Raising the ACT score threshold) makes us push kids more, but if you talk to the kids, they want to be pushed a little more. I think any time we ask to increase the rigor and have kids do more critical thinking, the more prepared they are. They see it after the fact, but be use their information to adjust our curriculum.'" -- Read the Full Article

They Have Dreams

Karen & Larry's Peace Corp Ukraine 29 Adventure -- May 21, 2007
by Karen

"This week in class we’ve been talking about Americanization. It will also be the topic of next week’s debate ... In class I try to instigate a discussion about whether or not this American influence has a positive or a negative influence on Ukrainian culture. One or two students have voiced an opinion for the negative side, arguing that Ukrainians shouldn’t use words like 'sorry' or 'okay' when they have their own Ukrainian words that mean the same thing. A few people think it’s cool, and makes the language richer. But mostly, they have no opinion. It’s something they’ve never thought about, and even when I assign them the task of listing positive and negative aspects of Americanization, they have a difficult time. At first I wondered why this was so difficult, but slowly this week I have come to the realization that this task would require a skill that very few of my students possess: critical thinking ... Their educational system prepares them to be very good echoes. Most teachers praise plagiarism, because then there are fewer grammatical mistakes, and make it very obvious that they are not at all interested in what the students actually think about anything. Their entire college education has rarely forced them to analyze. Don’t misunderstand this as laziness; my students work very hard. Unfortunately, most of their effort would fall into what we call “busy work,” and involves memorized information that they promptly forget after the exam."  -- Read the Full Article

Adviser Helps Rampage, Staff Excel

Times Record -- May 21, 2007
by Amy Sherrill

Fort Smith, AR — "In the past four years, Ramsey Junior High's newspaper has produced three Editors of the Year ... The Rampage's 2006-07 editor, Olivia Tran, brought home the state title, and other staff members also received high honors at the Arkansas Scholastic Press Association annual convention in Little Rock last month ... English teacher and Rampage adviser Melissa Bonar said her journalism students learn a lot from doing hands-on  work. While she makes sure stories are fair and balanced, Bonar sits back and lets the students produce The Rampage ... 'The critical-thinking skills they learn in journalism help them in their core subjects, especially when we're covering news, because then they go into civics and they get to argue and banter about big issues, and we've covered it or researched it in here,' Bonar said." -- Read the Full Article

Fresh Ideas, Insights Shape Community Medicine

TheDay.Com -- May 20, 2007
by Mark Masselli

"Thirty-five years ago this month a small group of us in our late teens and early 20s set out to make health care a right and not a privilege in our hometown of Middletown. Starting with our dreams and a small second-floor walk-up, we converted the two bedrooms into medical exam rooms and, with help from the physical plant staff at Wesleyan University, renovated the kitchen into a dental operatory. Volunteers all of us — dentist, physicians, Wesleyan students, activists, friends and neighbors — we opened one of Connecticut's first free clinics. Today's organization may bear little resemblance to our early years, but we are still fresh with the idealism to make better the current health system ... The Community Health Center Inc. has continued to grow through new generations who believe in the cause and do the work of transforming the way that health care is delivered, especially for those who need it most ... Our tradition at CHC has been one of innovation, in always questioning whether we could do better in our quest for health-care justice. Perhaps our first transformation at the center was when we decided to resist the conventional wisdom that a “clinic” doesn't have to keep a high standard in either appearance or the excellence of its services. Instead, we realized that the respect we hold for our patients must be reflected in how professional our facilities are and by the expertise of our staff. In any CHC office today, you will find a modern and welcoming design and state-of-the-art equipment, staffed by the best and the brightest ... We all want a health-care system that reflects our country's commitment to equality and justice for all but we understand that this won't be won at the lottery and it requires more than political support. A world-class system of care will need to engage Americans from all walks of life and draw on the critical thinking and imagination that makes this a great country. " -- Read the Full Article

Grads Get Presidential Sendoff

Foster's Online -- May 20, 2007
by Thomas R Kressler

"Graduates were ignoring requests to sit down as former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush entered Cowell Stadium from below the bleachers Saturday morning and headed toward the stage, with Pomp and Circumstance playing in the background ... Bush and Clinton, who have since become friends and fundraising partners, later addressed the graduates at the University of New Hampshire's 137th Commencement ... 'Our differences are important. They matter, they make life more interesting and they aid the search for truth,' Clinton said. 'But our common humanity matters more' ... Speaking first, Bush saluted the school's faculty for dedicating their lives to encouraging free-thinking among young minds ... 'In a very real sense, one of the great struggles we face is the battle for young minds around the entire world,' Bush said. On one side, he said, are civilized institutions like UNH that embrace critical thinking, celebrate diversity and favor dialogue over conflict. On the other are schools of Islamic fundamentalism preaching a virulent strain of the Koran and open contempt for the West.'" -- Read the Full Article

Ministry of Education-Jordan and Intel Sign Memorandum of Understanding

AME Info -- May 20, 2007

"As part of the World Economic Forum activities, Intel today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today with the Jordanian Ministry of Education (MoE) to develop an advanced online training program as part of Intel® Teach offerings which teachers can take following their completion of the Intel® Teach Essentials and Thinking with Technology trainings ... Educating the educators is a fundamental element within Intel Corporation's approach to education worldwide ... Set to be launched in 2008, access to the program will be free of charge to all teachers in Jordan ... The Ministry of Education in Jordan adopted The Intel® Teach Program in 2003, to date resulting in the training of more than 36,000 teachers within the Kingdom. In addition, the ministry also chose to introduce Intel® Teach Thinking with Technology Program, which has grown to become an integrated part of professional teacher development of MoE teachers." -- Read the Full Article

How TechStars Was Born

The Denver Post -- May 19, 2007
by Kimberly S Johnson

"Jared Polis, Brad Feld, David Cohen and David Brown are the 'professors' - the founders of an organization called TechStars, created to mentor 10 startup companies for the summer. The inaugural session kicks off Monday ... TechStars is the brainchild of Cohen and Brown, who then pitched the idea to Feld and Polis ... 'I had never met David (Cohen),' Feld said. 'We had a random meeting and in 15 minutes, I was totally in love with the idea' ... The idea: Find 10 of the most innovative ideas in technology, and bring their teams to Boulder. Give them office space, up to $15,000 for expenses, and unfettered access to about 40 mentors to help guide them through the strategy, implementation, funding, marketing and legal obstacles every startup faces. TechStars will also take a 5 percent stake in each of the companies that participate this summer ... 'I was thinking about the gaps in my own experience. I made a lot of mistakes,' said Cohen. 'I wish I had had more mentorship, and more access, not only for capital, but the critical thinking. How to think about (starting a company) and approach it from a strategic standpoint.'" -- Read the Full Article

What Preachers Will or Won't Say

The Decatur Daily -- May 19, 2007
by James L Evans

"A new book by a Baptist minister is sure to stir debate among Christians of every stripe. According to the author, Oliver 'Buzz' Thomas, there are '10 things your minister wants to tell you, but can't because he needs his job.'  By the way, that's the title ... Thomas, who in addition to being a minister also holds a law degree, is former general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee. He is regarded by many as the foremost authority on church and state issues in America. He is presently executive director of the Niswonger Foundation — a group devoted to providing financial assistance to students in Tennessee ... It is not at all clear whether Thomas is right about ministers wanting to say these things. He is certainly correct that in some settings saying such things would result in termination — which is sad. Faith should never be an obstacle to the pursuit of honest, critical thinking. After all, almost all of the great heroes of our faith — from Jesus on — started off as dissenters from settled orthodoxy. " -- Read the Full Article

Learning to Fall in Love with Literature

Yemen Observer -- May 19, 2007

"According to librarians in Sana’a, Yemeni people tend to only read when they are required to do it, and they approach the task in a less than joyful manner. The dearth of a reading culture in Yemen is tragic. At the most basic level, it is tragic because illiteracy is still so rampant in the country; half of Yemenis cannot read this editorial—or even words on food containers in the supermarket ... But even among the literate, there is a startling lack of interest in books. Students drag themselves to the library to read their assigned tomes, never bothering to investigate those lurking on other shelves.  This suggests a fatal flaw in Yemeni education. Somehow, the education system is failing to inspire in young Yemenis a love of literature, and a love of books in general. This may be due to the fact that much learning in Yemen is still done by rote, meaning that students spend all of their time memorizing facts, figures, and words—but very little time pondering what they all mean ... Critical thinking does not appear to be encouraged in Yemeni school systems, and in the often-large classrooms, real discussion and analysis may be all but impossible. Worse, teachers do not seem to be making learning fun for their students. Yes, it should be fun! There is no reason why the investigation of any subject cannot be made engaging by a talented teacher. Students who enjoy their classes get far more out of them.  A terrific teacher can make books thrilling for her students. After all, books allow us to travel outside of ourselves, into worlds and people we could never otherwise experience. " -- Read the Full Article

Most Important Innoculation for Kids -- Media Literacy?

Bring It On -- May 19, 2007
by Liberal Jarhead

"What is media literacy? It’s teaching kids some healthy skepticism, some critical thinking, some pondering of “What is their motive for giving me this message?', and helping them get into the habit of applying those tools to the ads, news, music videos, movies, TV shows, video games, and so on with which they’re bombarded. It’s something that, just at the time it’s more needed than ever before because of the hyper-media-saturation of our kids’ lives and the unparalleled sophistication of marketers and other media strategists, is least likely to be part of what they get at school, so all too often it’s up to us ...  Media literacy is compared to inoculation for some good reasons. It’s intended to protect its recipients from a potentially fatal syndrome, that of uncritically buying into the values and cultural beliefs promoted by others who want to exploit them – financially, politically, or otherwise – and couldn’t care less about the damage they suffer in the process. We’re talking about anything from the tobacco marketers who introduced Joe Camel while piously denying that they were targeting children to the people so creepily spotlighted in the film Jesus Camp who talk openly (when the kids are out of the room) about their aim of capturing the minds of the next generation in order to take over the country and about how easily led they are when they’re young. " Read the Full Article

Military Red Teams Creating Critical Thinkers in Time of War

Associated Press -- May 18, 2007

Fort Leavenworth, KS — "During World War II, British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery relied upon junior officers to study German Field Marshal Irwin Rommel in Africa and Europe, then assess the Allies' plans ... That idea's modern incarnation is the Red Team University course at Fort Leavenworth to produce soldiers who don't hesitate to find flaws in a commander's strategies ... Eleven students from the Red Team University graduated yesterday from the 18-week course and will soon take their analytical skills throughout the military. Their job is to think like the enemy and give other officers insight into that thinking ... The program teaches officers to approach problems from multiple perspectives, including using anthropological research about a given population. Students also are taught to help senior military staff find answers they need before plans are executed."

Fewer Tenn. Students Prepared for College

Tennessean.Com -- May 18, 2007
by Jamie Sarrio

"Thousands of Tennessee seniors are likely to graduate from high school this spring unprepared for college ... Statewide, almost half of the state's college freshman required remedial or developmental college coursework, according to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission ... That means students are getting a fresh start in college by learning — or relearning — skills that professors expected them to master in high school. That concerns educators because students who need remedial classes are more likely to quit ... 'It's becoming more of a struggle,' said Doug Heffington, a geography professor at Middle Tennessee State University who says some of his students didn't know Los Angeles is south of San Francisco. 'I shouldn't have to tell a class of college kids that. … Sometimes it's just like, man, we shouldn't have to always start at zero' ... Marc Hill, chief education officer of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, said businesses thinking of expanding or relocating look at the percentage of college graduates in a city or region as an indicator of work force quality ... 'Fifty years ago, it was possible to get a job that paid well enough to support a family with just a high school diploma. Today you need a college degree, and in an online environment, you also need the skills to compete with college graduates from across the globe' ... In past decades, educators and lawmakers have focused on making higher education more accessible to students, but now they must make sure those who enroll in college succeed, said David Spence, president of the Southern Regional Education Board, a nonprofit education think tank based in Atlanta ... Another issue is the communication failure between higher education and public school officials about exactly what skills a college student needs to succeed, said Spence, a former vice chancellor of university systems in Georgia, Florida and California ... 'It's a disconnect. Higher education bears a lot of responsibility for this in not speaking in one voice about exactly the kind of learning skills, the reading, writing and math, students are expected to know at the college level,' he said ... Maplewood High School senior David Rhodes said he feels prepared to start his freshman year at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, mostly because he enrolled in advanced placement courses at Maplewood. He said courses with that level of rigor should be a must for any student planning to attend college ... 'There's more reading, more writing, more critical thinking,' he said. 'It requires you to do a lot more work on your own.'" -- Read the Full Article

Fears for Democracy in India

The Chronicle Review -- May 18, 2007
 by Martha C. Nussbaum 

 "While Americans have focused on President Bush's "war on terror," Iraq, and the Middle East, democracy has been under siege in another part of the world. India — the most populous of all democracies, and a country whose Constitution protects human rights even more comprehensively than our own — has been in crisis. Until the spring of 2004, its parliamentary government was increasingly controlled by right-wing Hindu extremists who condoned and in some cases actively supported violence against minority groups, especially Muslims ...  What has been happening in India is a serious threat to the future of democracy in the world. The fact that it has yet to make it onto the radar screen of most Americans is evidence of the way in which terrorism and the war on Iraq have distracted us from events and issues of fundamental significance. If we really want to understand the impact of religious nationalism on democratic values, India currently provides a deeply troubling example, and one without which any understanding of the more general phenomenon is dangerously incomplete. It also provides an example of how democracy can survive the assault of religious extremism." -- Read the Full Article

Christians and Muslims - Mutual Paranoia

Radio Netherlands Worldwide -- May 17, 2007
by Michel Hoebink

"European Muslims and their fellow citizens are locked in a dangerous vicious circle of mutual paranoia. That is the view of the British-Indian thinker Lord Bhiku Parekh, who recently visited the Netherlands. To break though this circle requires wisdom on both sides. Multicultural society poses an unprecedented problem for European societies, says Lord Parekh ... In contrast to the United States for instance, European countries traditionally see themselves as nation states based on a shared culture. This makes it difficult for them to accommodate a large Muslim presence in their midst ... The views of this British-Indian professor of political philosophy carry some weight. As the author of a controversial report on the Future of multi-ethnic Britain and the book Rethinking Multiculturalism, he is a highly respected public figure in Britain. Himself a Hindu, he often came to the defence of his Muslim compatriots, the first time during the Rushdie affair. In March 2000, he was appointed to the House of Lords. Last Thursday, Lord Parekh gave the annual lecture of the Leiden Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM)." -- Read the Full Article

Haleh Esfandiari: Iran’s Cultural Prison

OpenDemocracy (Free Thinking for the World) -- May 17, 2007
by Rasool Nafisi

"The detention of Haleh Esfandiari, a senior Iranian scholar based in the United States who had returned to Iran to visit her elderly mother and to touch the roots of her beloved country, has refocused the attention of political analysts on the Islamic Republic of Iran's motives. In seeking an explanation for the new wave of arrests - of which Esfandiari's is only one - some western observers have repeated the threadbare argument that American policy toward Iran is itself the culprit ... This line of thinking identifies the $75 million programme request from the US state department to promote democracy in Iran, unveiled in February 2006, as the trigger for Tehran's crackdown on various groups of activists and intellectuals. The problem with such an analysis is twofold: first, it focuses principally on Washington (without being necessarily convincing even about that) rather than on Tehran's own agency; second, it assumes that the Iranian government needs threats of regime change from the Bush administration to perpetrate such violations ... Ahmadinejad's readiness to provoke crisis, and the tendency toward greater repression, has been evident for some time. The appointment of two ministers (Mostafa Pourmohammadi at interior and Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie at information) was a warning that a xenophobic old guard trapped in a paranoid view of the world was back with a vengeance. In the late 1990s, a gang of thugs inside the information ministry was responsible for a series of gruesome killings (euphemistically called "chain murders") of leading intellectuals and political activists such as Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar; many Iranian observers now worry that they have returned to the helm. "  -- Read the Full Article

News Executives Discuss Strengths and Challenges in the Digital Age

Stanford News -- May 17, 2007
by Michael Pena

"It was a familiar premise probed at a symposium on the news media Monday night in Cubberley Auditorium: that the printed newspaper is seeing its relevance erode as more people turn to an online world ... Titled 'Pressing Times: Can Newspapers Survive in the New World of Journalism?' the 41st annual Carlos Kelly McClatchy Memorial Symposium featured a panel that included Gary Pruitt, chief executive officer of the McClatchy Co., Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience for Google, and Harry Chandler, former executive at the Los Angeles Times and member of the family that privately owned the paper for 120 years before selling it to the Tribune Company ... Named after the founder of the Fresno Bee, the Carlos Kelly McClatchy Memorial Lectures and Symposia were established in 1964 to bring to Stanford distinguished national and world leaders in the field of journalism, in order to give students first-hand insight into the responsibilities of journalism in a democratic society and to stimulate critical thinking about the performance of the mass media in the world today." -- Read the Full Article

Lima, Peru: ICPNA Hosts English Language Teaching International Conference

Living In Peru (Latest News in Peru) -- May 17, 2007
Press Release: Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano

"As part of its ongoing commitment towards professional development, ICPNA will hold the 2nd ELT Horizons International Conference, which will be an invaluable opportunity to learn about the latest trends and innovations of English language teaching today ... The inspiration for this annual event is the need to communicate the latest innovations in English language teaching around the world, with a focus on those themes and topics that are 'on the horizon' representing the most current concerns of professionals in the field.... an array of other English language teaching specialists, from Peru, the U.S., and the U.K. will offer a wide variety of additional academic presentations and workshops through local concurrent session blocks. The topics to be addressed at the event include: student motivation, effective grammar instruction, brain-based research and learning, action research, learner-centered classes, critical thinking skills, oral proficiency, collocations and vocabulary acquisition, learner autonomy and many more."  -- Read the Full Article

General Assembly President Calls for Women’s Rghts in Middle East

UN NewsCentre -- May 17, 2007

"The President of the United Nations General Assembly, a lawyer and rights advocate from Bahrain, has issued a strong call for addressing the social, educational and other constraints impeding the equality of women in the Middle East ... 'The concept of human rights is based on the notion that all human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms,' Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa noted in an address to a panel discussion Wednesday evening on Women and Human Rights in the Middle East at Rutgers University, New Jersey, United States ... 'Yet, in the Middle East women face multi-layered and multi-dimensional discrimination that is embedded in our culture, government policies, educational systems and the legal framework' ... Although the Middle East has come a long way in educating women, 'the fact of the matter is that critical thinking, and the teaching of philosophy and theology are absent in our curricula; and they are essential in laying the foundation to review, evaluate and criticise the ideas that shape our societies,' she said ... 'We are left with a fertile ground for fundamentalist ideologies and we have reverted to the past to solve our problems of the present.'” -- Read the Full Article

FBI Investigates Upshur County Schools 'Thinking Maps'

WTRF-7 (CBS Wheeling, WV) -- May 17, 2007
by J Turchetta

Buckhannon, WV —"Superintendent Dr. Charles Chandler's involvement with program called Thinking Maps is in question ... Agents from the FBI and the US Department of Education's Inspector General's Office have executed search warrants at the home and office of Upshur County School Superintendent Dr. Charles Chandler ... According to federal court documents, the connection between Chandler as superintendent of Upshur Schools and his role with Chandler Education group is in question ... No charges have been filed and Chandler has not been accused of anything ... According to federal search warrants, the issue comes down to a program called 'Thinking Maps.' According to the Upshur County Board of Education Web site, it's a program designed to increase student critical thinking skills ... The agents seized all paperwork including time sheets, contracts, program manuals and even multiple hard drives from Chandler's office and home concerning Thinking Maps. " -- Read the Full Article

Let Us Fight Cynicism

The Peninsula (Qatar's Leading English Daily) -- May 17, 2007
Excerpts from the keynote speech H H Sheikha Mozah bint Al Missned, Los Angeles World Affairs Council

"Our world is being traumatised by violence. Whether we label it political extremism, gang violence, or the madness of ‘one killer’, there is one common element: our young people. The sad reality is that we are losing the trust of our youth. We have not been able to provide them with a world of security where they are heard and protected. As a result, they are seduced by a global culture of violence that is fuelled by cynicism ... This epidemic worries me, but I believe there is a cure waiting for beautiful young minds to discover. For this cure is the mind itself. It exists inside all of us, in our will and in our imagination ... And with a little imagination we can find new ways to offer youth more creative economic opportunities. With a little imagination, we can put education first and foster the critical thinking skills needed to build open minds, which can meet each other with understanding." -- Read the Full Article

Critical Thinking on the Future of Museums

York's Daily Bulletin -- May 17, 2007
by Olena Wawryshyn

"A visit by York Professor Joyce Zemans to the Museum of Modern Art in Dublin in the early 1990s set in motion a chain of events that has culminated in the recent publication of Museums After Modernism: Strategies of Engagement ... This new collection of essays, co-edited by Zemans, the director of the MBA Program in Arts & Media Administration at the Schulich School of Business (and former dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts), and Griselda Pollock, professor of social and critical histories of art at the University of Leeds, UK, addresses issues relating to the future of museums and art galleries. Published by Blackwell Publishing, the book will be launched in Toronto on May 23 at the Gladstone Hotel from 7 to 9pm ... 'This book reflects the ideas of critical thinkers in the cultural landscape today,' says Zemans. 'Its publication continues the dialogue begun in 2002 at the Toronto conference' ... The dialogue will undoubtedly be ongoing: Zemans says that colleagues have already told her that they are looking forward to using the collection in their teaching." -- Read the Full Article

Teachers Should Apply Critical Thinking to Climate Change Issue

The Vancouver Province -- May 17, 2007
by Alan Ferguson

"A teachers' committee in Surrey has won a battle to allow students to be shown Al Gore's environmental epic, An Inconvenient Truth ... It reminds me of when kids were taught to duck under their desks in the event of a nuclear attack ... Faced with imagined peril, a not-uncommon human response is total paralysis of the critical faculties." -- Read the Full Article

HEF Awards Five Grants to Hopkinton Public Schools

WebWire -- May 17, 2007
Press Release from the Hopkinton Education Foundation

Hopkinton, MA — "Hopkinton Education Foundation (HEF) has announced the awarding of five grants to schools throughout the school system. Since its inception in 1992, the HEF has promoted excellence in education in the Hopkinton Public Schools through the funding of innovative, academic grants for teachers and administrators ... The EMC Math & Science Award funded the program 'Engineering is Elementary' submitted by 5th grade teachers Maribeth Tremblay and Jennifer Jordan. The grant’s goal is to encourage critical thinking skills and teamwork through engineering-based activities utilizing engineering kits from the Museum of Science." -- Read the Full Article

Reynolds School of Journalism Receives $3.17 Million Endowment

NevadaNews (University of Nevada/Reno) -- May 16, 2007
by Zanny Marsh

"During their lifetimes, Paul and Gwen Leonard generously supported the University and the Reynolds School of Journalism. Their daughter, Rev. Jackie Leonard, has fulfilled their final bequest to establish two gifts within the journalism school. The $3.17 million endowment will fund the Paul A. Leonard Chair in Ethics and Writing in Journalism and the Paul A. and Gwen F. Memorial Scholarship ... “This is an important gift for the school and it will help in the recruitment of a new dean. It creates opportunities for the new leader to shape the curriculum, the faculty and the future of the journalism school,” said Jannet Vreeland, University vice provost and interim dean ... “Even before recruitment of a new dean became necessary, the journalism school was pursuing a vision of innovation in new media, technology, and critical thinking and ethics,” Vreeland said. “This gift will provide an even greater foundation for ethics and quality writing that is fundamental to this school’s success' ... The Reynolds Foundation has endowed two chairs, one in media technologies and another in critical thinking and ethical practices. The foundation has established a technologies endowment, which distinguishes the Reynolds School from other journalism schools, and it sponsored the school’s inaugural Journalism Week.” -- Read the Full Article

Design Squad Finale Takes Place at Design Continuum

Core 77 Design Blog -- May 16, 2007
by Squirrelbait

"PBS'educational kids' show, Design Squad, involves two teams of high school students who compete to develop the best design concept for a variety of challenges. It's excellent to see that critical thinking and innovation challenges are presented to youth as both a part of every day problem solving and an exciting career option. The season's coming to a close and they've taped the final 'Winner Takes All' episode at Design Continuum's newly renovated studio outside Boston (to be aired this week)."-- Read the Full Article

Is Theistic Evolution Better Than Creationism

Cathartic Relief -- May 16, 2007

"I’ve been reading PZ Myers‘ blog Pharyngula for a while now. If you don’t read it, you should ... My claim, hotly disputed by Myers is that it is (vastly) preferable to have someone understand the science of an issue (evolution in this case) than to dismiss the science and embrace superstition (god did it) ... in my disagreement with Myers, it becomes much simpler to determine whether an understanding and acceptance of evolution is to be preferred over literal biblical creationism. I think in all cases and places such an understanding is vastly preferable to superstitious nonsense ... I claim that it’s naive and foolish to think that continually ignoring people’s faith is going to get us anywhere. It’s not. I think we need to lead people towards critical thinking and an understanding of science in a way that doesn’t threaten their faith. This allows religious people to gain a better understanding of the world they live in without the fear that their faith will be ripped away ... " -- Read the Full Article

Namibia: Book on Graft to Stimulate Debate

AllAfirca.Com -- May 16, 2007
by Surihe Gaomas Windhoek

"The first opinionated book on corruption, that is now freely available in Namibia, is meant to stir more debate and critical thinking about this topical issue in the country ... Described as one of the first of its kind by the Namibian Institute of Democracy (NID), the recently launched publication entitled 'Tackling Corruption - Opinions on the Way Forward in Namibia,' focuses on the different views and opinions of various stakeholders from government institutions, civil society and the business sector." -- Read the Full Article

Can a Machine Know?

The Buffalo News -- May 16, 2007
by Meg Healy

"The International Baccalaureate Organization is a nonprofit educational group founded in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland, with the intention of creating a universally acceptable international curriculum. Currently 1,921 schools in 124 countries offer an IB Diploma Program, which is meant for the final two years of high school. The curriculum, which is in many ways similar to the advanced courses offered at most American high schools, consists of six courses from six different subject areas. It also requires writing a 3,000- to 4,000-word Extended Essay, taking a Theory of Knowledge class, and participating in at least 150 hours of creative, action and service pursuits. Students who do not complete the entire program can receive certificates for all IB exams they pass ... exposure to new points of view is exactly what makes the IB program unique in comparison to AP or other classes meant to improve a college resume and gain college credit. IB encourages students to question what they are taught and develop their minds on a philosophical and moral level. 'It opens you to new ways of thinking and develops the whole person,' says Mary Kiefer, IB coordinator at City Honors as well as the Theory of Knowledge instructor. For example, even a class based on solid fact and quantitative skills like IB Biology requires students to do a lot of analysis and writing in labs, the scores of which are included in the final IB grade (unlike AP scores, which are based on one test) ...  One of the ways IB attempts to improve the “whole person” is through the Theory of Knowledge class every diploma candidate is required to take. 'It’s critical thinking that challenges the students to think about how we acquire knowledge and how we are sure of what we know,' Kiefer says of the class ... 'It exposed me to a lot of new things,' says Connor. 'IB holds you to a higher standard' ... Connor describes the course as a 'great mix of philosophy and anthropology.' Yet Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is most often the class that gives IB students the most frustration, especially when it comes to the final IB essay, which requires responses to such questions as 'can a machine know?' or 'what role do metaphors play in science?'" -- Read the Full Article

Teaching & Assessing 21st Century Skills

Intel Education -- May 15, 2007

"In the 21st century, as technology becomes more sophisticated and available, individuals have access to almost infinite opportunities for participation in their communities, as well as for entertainment and leisure-time activities. In today’s workplaces, as computers take over routine tasks, a far greater proportion of employees are engaged in tasks that require them to be flexible and creative problem solvers ... In order for today’s students to be successful in this environment, schools must provide them with more than basic skills. Students also must become proficient at 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, use of technology, self-direction, and communication ... Assessment can provide information about more than a students’ knowledge or performance at the end of a unit. Read about the many different purposes of assessment ... Determining how and when students are using higher-order thinking such as critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and metacognition, can be a challenge. Learn about ways of assessing thinking." -- Read the Full Article

Major League Beisbol Sends Dominican Recruits Back to School

The Duck of Minerva -- May 15, 2007
by Peter Howard

"The globalization of Major League Baseball has been all the rage in the past few years. A wealth of international players--now a full 29% of MLB opening day rosters in 2007--has brought an influx of tremendous talent into the game. MLB is actively promoting the game globally, paying games outside the USA and helping to set up baseball leagues in other countries (most recently in Israel-- notice how the Israel Baseball League website looks alot like the main page--you can even play fantasy Israel Baseball...). And, lets not forget the World Baseball Classic, won by Japan (indeed, featuring an entirely non-US semifinal round) ... Unfortunately, there has been an ugly underbelly to growth of baseball's quest for global talent. While US players coming out of high school and college are regulated by strict eligibility rules and must go through the draft, all non-US players are free agents and can be signed very young-- as early as 16.5 years old. All MLB teams now operate academies in Latin America, particularly the Dominican Republic the number one source for Major League talent outside the USA. There has been criticism of these academies exploiting young kids hoping to realize the Sammy Sosa dream only to fail and be condemned to a life of poverty ... Now that might be changing. Slowly, somewhat, but in a positive direction. Sports Illustrated has a fascinating story about how the Cleveland Indians are leading the way adding an educational component to their Dominican Academy ... In the spring of 2004, the Cleveland Indians started requiring their Dominican prospects to attend Prepara, an adult education program that teaches players core subjects such as math, geography, and history. Depending on the time of the year and the intensity of the playing schedule, players become students anywhere from three to five times per week with classes lasting 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, with at least a half-dozen completing their high school educations ... But before you start thinking that the Indians are going all Amnesty International on us, make no mistake that the estimated $40,000-$50,000 the team spends annually educating its players is a business decision ... What is interesting here, and, potentially, a model for other globalizing businesses, is that overall education (or what some might call, gasp, liberal arts education) that increases a worker's overall aptitude is a very sound investment. Critical thinking skills are valuable, even to a baseball player ... Now, will this have a major impact that turns around the entire Dominican economy? Probably not, lets not be naive. The lesson, rather, is that these academies are trying to become somewhat less exploitative and leave the people who are their core product better able to handle life after baseball. Not every kid will become a Pedro Martinez or Sammy Sossa, but if they get a decent education for trying, well, that's good for them, good for the Dominican, and good for baseball." -- Read the Full Article

OnPoint Awarded Department of State Contract

PR Newswire -- May 15, 2007

Arlington, VA.— "OnPoint Consulting, Inc. (OnPoint) announced today that it was awarded a contract by the Department of State as part of the department's multiple-award HITSS Program. OnPoint's HITSS award was made under the Small Business Pool, and is a five-year contract with a ceiling value of approximately $90 million. Under the HITSS Program, OnPoint will provide the Department of State with a full range of IT services, including: software development and analysis, systems maintenance and operations, database design and administration, configuration management, requirements planning, information security; business process reengineering, and project management ... With 2006 revenues of $25 million, OnPoint is a growing ISO 9001-certified technology consulting firm that provides critical thinking, strategic analysis, and thought leadership to improve performance, lower costs, and achieve results for clients. OnPoint specializes in delivering solutions in Information Assurance, Network Operations, Project Management and Systems Development. " -- Read the Full Article

Emirates Environment Group and Masafi Join Hands

AMEInfo -- May 15, 2007

"Masafi, the regional market leader in the bottled mineral water industry, has partnered with Emirates Environment Group - a UAE-based non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting civic awareness - to launch a plastic recycling initiative across UAE ... The programme will showcase Masafi's commitment to society and the environment. The initiative will involve 10 schools in the pilot phase and will be later rolled out to additional 30 schools across the country ... Poonam Bhojani, Executive Director, Dubai International Academy, said: 'I would like to thank the Emirates Environment Group and Masafi for taking up the cause of environmental concerns at a grass-root level - with school children of Dubai. As a school that actively encourages its students to take up environmental challenges and issues, Dubai International Academy is looking forward to participate in this important initiative to promote plastic recycling at schools. It is part of DIA's mission to build lifelong learners for the Global Knowledge Economy, who are responsible citizens empowered with innovative and critical thinking skills and sensitivities vital for success in the 21st century. '" -- Read the Full Article

RIC Awarded 4-year Grant From U.S. DOE

Rhode Island College -- May 15, 2007

"The United States Department of Education has selected Rhode Island College to receive a four-year grant to continue its Upward Bound program. Upward Bound has been a staple at RIC for 41 years .. The program had been a possible target for recent federal educational budget cuts ... The grant will provide $592,382 for the first year and will fund 150 students ... Upward Bound offers students instruction in fundamental and advanced level courses, counseling, tutoring, academic support workshops, career development, work-study placement, student support services, and multi-cultural and social activities ... Students work cooperatively to improve critical thinking skills and become better learners. They are afforded ample assistance and guidance to meet the challenges of a high school curriculum ... The 12-month program runs September through June, and conducts a six-week academic/residential program on the RIC campus during the summer ... A recent study of Upward Bound graduates of the last seven years showed that 99 percent are accepted into programs of post-secondary education, 97 percent enroll, and 76 percent graduate." -- Read the Full Article

Project Ijitihad: Irshad Manji Urges Thoughtful Piety

Radio Free Europe (Radio Liberty) -- May 15, 2007

"Irshad Manji is a Canadian journalist and Muslim author of the international bestseller 'The Trouble With Islam Today: A Muslim's Call For Reform In Her Faith.' Manji encourages Muslims to question and debate traditional interpretations of Islam. Currently a senior fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy, Manji spoke with RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari on May 14 ... RFE/RL: What do you say to those critics who argue that you're just part of a very small minority? ... Manji: They may be right for now. I just don't know and we don't know until we really give other Muslims the opportunities to speak their mind more freely. The assumption of that criticism is that there aren't reform-minded Muslims out there; but my own experience shows that this is simply not true ... The problem is [that] the voices of reform-minded Muslims are being muted and are being suppressed; and they're being suppressed by one thing, and that is fear. It is the fear that comes from intimidation, which is why I and a group of reform-minded Muslims have launched a project [called] Ijtihad -- 'ijtihad' being Islam's own tradition of critical thinking and debate and dissent. Project Ijtihad aims to build the world's most inclusive network of reform-minded Muslims, and we want to show two points: one, that Islam gives us the permission to be thoughtful and faithful at the same time; and, secondly, the more of us who come out of the shadows and begin to speak and think freely, the more other reform-minded Muslims will see that they are not alone ... RFE/RL: What is your proposal for Muslims in Western countries? ... Manji: We have to recognize that we have a wonderful gift and a wonderful privilege, and that is the freedom to think and express and challenge and be challenged on matters of faith without fear of government retaliation. And we have to use these freedoms in order to revive ijtihad in our own communities." -- Read the Full Article

The Conscience of Media

MWCNews.Net -- May 15, 2007
by Irene Rheinwald

"On this, the start of year three for Media With Conscience News, we should all reflect for a moment on the need for uncensored, unfettered news and opinion pieces.  Corporate dominated television, rife with advertisements, pro-government biases, and flashing sound bytes substituting for informed analyses, only feed the current climate of blissful and paranoid ignorance. Mainstream media, dominated by editors/corporate owners with hidden agendas, easily slant news and editorials into directions contrary to the truth. Or lull us into complacency with stories deep as puddles:  the lifestyles of the rich, shallow, and infamously narcissistic ... we now have the internet, an angry internet, in which one can peruse a variety of viewpoints, from the outrageous to the patently false, to the investigative and thoughtful. Anyone can contribute; the internet is egalitarian and hides, for better or worse, behind the First Amendment. With the internet, readers must be judicious filters, and no longer accept whatever message the government sees fit to feed us by traditional means. Indeed, this forces us to be more diligent, more wary, more sceptical, more willing to exercise critical thinking – and therefore more liable to question our government’s pronouncements. No longer willing slaves, we have the means to see a much larger perspective. Independent media sources on the internet, such as Media With Conscience News, gather both hard data and diverse opinions – all well reasoned and compellingly argued – and allow us to make informed decisions. Wisdom and understanding of complex issues is entirely dependent upon accessing as many divergent viewpoints as possible, sorting the wheat from the chaff, and drawing logical conclusions. At this, Media With Conscience News excels, with its comprehensive reports, reference sections, blogs, discussion groups breaking news and haunting illustrations." -- Read the Full Article

Intel to Expand World Ahead Program at WEF Dead Sea

AMEInfo -- May 15, 2007
by Medilyn Manibo

"Technology and education working hand in hand to help developing nations face challenges is one of the key issues which will be overed at the next World Economic Forum taking place at the Dead Sea, Jordan on May 18 to 20 ... As a strategic partner of the Forum, Intel Corporation will use this as a platform to discuss opportunities to better reach young generations and give them a better chance to progress in life by sharing the incredible achievements of its World Ahead Program within the region ...Gordon Graylish, Intel Vice President Europe, Middle East and Africa will speak at the 'Technology: Harnessing the New Possibilities' panel during World Economic Forum, Dead Sea. Graylish's appearance follows on the heels of Intel Chairman Dr. Craig Barrett's attendance at the World Economic Forum in Davos ...  As part of the Intel® Education Initiative, Intel invests $100 million per year in education in collaboration with governments and educators in 50 countries ... The Intel® Teach program has helped more than 4 million teachers in more than 35 countries effectively integrate technology into their classrooms to improve student learning. In the next five years, Intel plans to train 10 million more teachers on the effective use of technology in education, with the possibility of reaching another 1 billion students. The Intel® Learn Program is a community-based effort in which underserved youth ages 8-16 learn technology, critical thinking, and collaboration skills using an engaging, project-centered approach. To date, the program has been launched in eight countries and has reached more than 450,000 learners. " -- Read the Full Article

Giant Campus Announces New Livewire(TM) Tech Summer Camp

Market Wire -- May 15, 2007

Seattle, WA — "Giant Campus, the undisputed national leader in youth technology summer camps, today announced open registration for the first annual livewire(TM) summer camps for teens at Walt Disney World® Resort in Orlando, Fla. livewire combines an exclusive, behind-the-scenes adventure at Walt Disney World with the only research-proven curriculum in the youth technology training industry. Giant Campus will host three, week-long livewire camps for teens ages 14 - 18, from July 15 through August 4 at Walt Disney World Resort ... Giant Campus also operates the nationally-recognized Cybercamps series of tech summer camps throughout the summer, which are single and multi-week tech-themed camps for 7-18 year olds, held at prestigious university campuses all across the U.S. Cybercamps is the only summer computer training program proven to significantly increase higher order thinking skills of participants and is supported by today's leading technology companies including Microsoft, Adobe Systems, Intel, Lucas Learning and Macromedia ... Located in Epcot®, the livewire lab provides teens with a hands-on education in digital art, science and technology, set against the backdrop of Disney attractions such as Mission: SPACE, Space Mountain and Disney-MGM Studios. livewire morning programs allow teens to create their own high-tech Web, video and music projects, and study subjects such as theme park physics, movie sound effects recording and theme park attraction design ... An independent research study recently found that after youth participated in a Giant Campus program, they showed a significant increase in higher order thinking skills (e.g. critical thinking, problem solving, communication) and even scored up to 90 percent higher on standardized school tests."  -- Read the Full Article

Human Rights Training in Schools Reduces Bullying

Epoch Times International --  May 15, 2007
by Diane Cordemans

"A strong message on rights, respect and responsibility has been delivered to New Zealand's educators ... John Clarke, deputy director of Children's Services in Hampshire, the United Kingdom, visited Parliament earlier this month after a range of organizations including Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission bought him to New Zealand ... Mr Clarke had been involved in training more than 300 Hampshire primary school head teachers in human rights principles based on the UN Charter for Children ... The work, which started in 2003, had bought great improvements to pupil's behaviour in the classroom, he said ... 'We have been frankly amazed at the impact on not just bullying but in terms of the development of higher order thinking skills, English standards and development of effective citizens through experience in schools,' Mr Clarke said in an interview on National Radio." -- Read the Full Article

Cleveland MSD Students Present Guys and Dolls

PRLog.Org -- May 14, 2007

Cleveland, OH – "The Cleveland Municipal School District  ( in partnership with Great Lakes Theater Festival ( and Playhouse Square Center will collaborate to present the eighth annual All-City Musical, Guys and Dolls crowning the District’s 2006-07 series of All-City Arts Programming ... The production features the talents of over fifty CMSD students from across the District and will take place on the stage of the Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square Center, June 1-3, 2007 ... The eighth annual All-City Musical is presented with generous support from The Human Fund ( which contributed $150,000 to the school district for a second consecutive year to fund its All-City Arts programming ... The All-City Musical is a rewarding experience for the students involved as well as for the professional artists that collaborate to produce the production, according to Tony Sias, director of the production for the fifth consecutive year. “The All-City Musical is an extraordinary program that provides students with a structured arts-based experience that refines individual talents, stimulates critical thinking, focuses creativity, strengthens social skills and affords students an informed perspective on the world that they might not have had if they were not involved in the program,” said Sias in a recent interview about the upcoming production. “These young people are amazing. As a member of the production team, I find it immensely rewarding to witness and play a significant role in the growth and development that these students experience over our intensive eight-week All-City Musical rehearsal process. They work diligently, remain focused and emerge from the program with the ability to demonstrate the skill and the discipline that it takes to be an artist in the theater. It is deeply satisfying to be able to share this leg of their journey with them.” -- Read the Full Article

Fenwick Fellows Announced

University Library News (George Mason University) -- May 14, 2007


Fairfax, VA — "University Librarian John Zenelis has announced the Fenwick Fellows for the 2007-08 academic year ... Halaevalu Vakalahi, associate professor in the Department of Social Work ...Tony Samara and John G. Dale, assistant professors in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology ...   In their joint proposal, “Transnational Justice and Legal Discourse in the Making of Extraordinary Rendition,” Samara and Dale will focus on addressing the question of human rights, specifically targeting the many ethical and legal questions that have arisen in connection with national security policies embraced since Sept. 11, 2001 ... As a result of this fellowship, Samara and Dale will be organizing a Special Thematic Session on “States, Human Rights and Global Security after 9/11” for the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. In addition, they plan to write an article based on their research for a special issue of the Journal of Qualitative Sociology. Finally, they intend to use the materials they develop with the help of the fellowship toward an application for “Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum,” a grant sponsored by Mason. " -- Read the Full Article

What's Left

Marginal Unity -- May 14, 2007
by Rob Horning

"Zygmunt Bauman offers two defining principles of Leftism, something that seemed pertinent after the detour into Hegemony and Socialist Strategy over the weekend ... The left is best described as a stance of permanent criticism of the realities of social life, which always fall short of the values a society professes and promises to serve. The left is not committed to any specific model of human togetherness: the sole model it refuses to tolerate is a regime that deems itself perfect - or at least the best of all possible worlds - and therefore immune to questioning ... This definition shows Bauman has assimilated of Laclau and Mouffe’s point of there being no given, natural inevitable constituency for socialism, and it hearkens to the notion of permanent revolution. He seems to elevate critical thinking to the level of an end in itself, not necessarily because critical thinking is a practice commensurate with the dignity of humankind (which is why I’d advocate it for its own sake) but because of a realist assessment of what’s possible." -- Read the Full Article

A Teacher Strikes Back

Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette -- May 14, 2007
by Susan Boesch

"Failing schools, failing teachers, failing students – everywhere I go I am constantly barraged by comments from the community, in magazines, newspapers, and even radio talk shows. It seems that public education is such a complete and utter failure that parents should move their students to better performing schools immediately or, better yet, enroll them in private schools or charter schools better equipped to teach today’s student ... In fact, let’s take away more money from public schools and vote in vouchers, so students can go to elite private schools while sounding the death knell for public education ... You will have to pardon my rant, but I am tired – tired of all the negative comments and criticism, tired of being labeled a failure, tired of being told I teach at a failing school, tired of being placed on probation by the state, tired of walking around with a cloud over my head, tired of trying to justify why I support public schools ... Most of all, I am tired of my students being labeled as failures ... The emphasis the past several years has been focused on No Child Left Behind. I see nothing wrong with accountability. As teachers, parents and students, we should be accountable for our performance, but the deck should not be stacked against students before they even begin. State guidelines are strangling students – they set them up for failure before they even start school ... I happen to have students from all over the world who come here seeking a better life. Their parents have chosen to leave everything behind so that their children might have the opportunities their home countries did not offer. I have students in my classroom from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and more. They are wonderful students ... More than 20 languages are spoken at North Side. But when students start public school, they are required to be tested on ISTEP+ in a language with which they are unfamiliar and writing conventions they have not conquered. Students in special education are also tested on writing and nuances of language that they have not mastered. All students’ scores are lumped together in cookie-cutter fashion relying on the assumption that all children learn at the same rate and are at the same level of preparation ...  I know that each and every student will walk out of my classroom better educated than when they walked in. I challenge them with new ideas, critical thinking and developing themselves into clear, objective writers. Is everyone in my classroom achieving this? No. Do I consider them failures if they don’t? No!" -- Read the Full Article

Nigeria: Time for Sober Reflections

AllAfrica.Com -- May 13, 2007
Daily Trust (Abuja)

"Thinking of Nigeria - where we are vis-à-vis where we ought to be - brings one to tears. And it is sadder to see how our leaders carry themselves, haughty and loud, as if we own the world, completely undisturbed by our abject state of underdevelopment. Some even argue that "we are not doing bad". Haba! ... The story is told me by my son about an international conference he attended last year in Canada in which the chairman of one of the world's biggest oil companies was a speaker. The guy came in looking simple and with a briefcase that's seen better days but which still had evidence of good quality about it. In discussing the "Black problem" the guy pinpointed "bigmanism" as Nigeria's biggest problem! ... In Nigeria, everybody is big and wants to flaunt his/her bigman-ness: the teacher to the student, the police to the common man, the boss to the worker, the elected to the elector; yet their emptiness cry to high heavens ... The first signifier, methinks, is our love of titles. As if it is a crime to simply be a Mr., we go to absurd lengths to affix highfalutin, even strange and borrowed titles, oft turning professions into abbreviated titles: Engr., Surveyor, Lawyer, High-Chief, Hon., Distinguished, Pastor, Alhaji, etc., etc., ad nauseam. The one I find most irritating is the "Excellency" bit. I have said it before and I'll say it again, until we legislate against the use of this insidious, sinister appellation, we are going no where! ... Time to roll up our sleeves and get down to work, serious work, of rebuilding our country from decades of abuse and despoliation by successive regimes, most especially the military ones. And the place to start is in education. We must plough a large chunk of our resources into embracing and developing our institutions of learning and research, recognizing them as the bedrock of any meaningful development. Let us restore pride to reading and learning ... I promised to bring you P.W. Botha's Speech delivered way back in 1985 when he was apartheid South Africa's president. I have abridged it here for space ... The piece is not to draw any fresh white-hate, no; there is no good in that. The purpose of it, again, is to provoke us to critical thinking. Botha's doom-wish for the Blacks of South Africa may have been dashed, but the essence of his thoughts and the lessons of them remain." -- Read the Full Article

New Program Students Focus Their Interests

The Missoulian -- May 13, 2007
by Michael Jamison

Kalispell, MT — "Even as builders put the final touches on Kalispell's new high school, Darlene Schottle is hammering the last few nails into a whole new curriculum - the upgraded software that will operate inside Glacier High's hardware ... It's a relatively new sort of software, written with guidance from business and industry interests, and she suspects it will come with a few bugs ... Still, Schottle is excited to give the curriculum a run, and to see what it can do ...
The model looks like a rising sun, with the disc at the center containing the fundamentals - various literacies, problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, “the three Rs,” the stuff of getting by in the world. Surrounding those are a corona of electives in English, math, science, social studies, art and so forth. And radiating outward shine the six clusters - social and human services; arts and communication; business and technology; engineering and industrial technologies; health and related services; and agriculture and natural resources." -- Read the Full Article

Critical thinking is a seminal concept and cadre of best practices that accompanies all inquiry, discourse, and learning. It isn't one of the fundamental disciplines but rather the fundamental cadre of disciplines necessary to understand anything, including "various literacies, problem solving, teamwork, "the three Rs," the stuff of getting by in the world," etcetera. You can't know what you haven't thought. Critical thinking is best taught, understood, practiced, and assessed across the curriculum in the context of other subject domains and disciplines. As such, it would be more appropriately represented in this model's graphic as the Sun itself.

‘C’ Students Also Can See a Bright Future

The Atlanta Journal-Consitution -- May 13, 2007
by Rick Badie

"He’s taught at the college level. Middle and high school, too ... So Michael Woodward knows a thing or two about kids and the skills they need to get into college and succeed ... He’s seen all types, but the one thing that bugged him the most were unprepared learners. Students who lacked confidence in themselves, who were afraid to speak up in class, to ask questions, make presentations. To think ... 'They didn’t have the tools,' said Woodward, who teaches history and geography and coaches wrestling at Norcross High School ...'There was a clear disconnect between what the universities expected, and what kids were taught in the school and, of course, at home' ... So Woodward culled together a free program that’s geared toward metro Atlanta kids not expected to go to college. The borderline kids, those with C averages or who might not blow the SAT out of the water ... It’s called the Alpha Leadership Program, a name that reflects Alpha Phi Alpha, the black college fraternity Woodward joined while earning three undergraduate degrees and a master’s degree at Florida A&M ... This year, 125 students took part in activities that ran concurrent with the school-year calendar. On weekends, they attended sessions that dealt with etiquette, proper attire, interview skills, critical thinking and public speaking. They learned about college financial aid and how to select colleges." -- Read the Full Article

Planet Earth: "Waiting To Exhale"

BlogCritics Magazine -- May 13, 2007
by Heloise

"If Al Gore and family and every family in America, over the past 20 years, had said: 'hold the beef' each and every time that they walked or biked to their favorite diner, then they would have reduced, by tons. their carbon footprint on planet earth ... But that’s as unlikely a scenario as Gore giving back his Oscar for hypocrisy ... My science classes are wrapping up the school year with a lesson in critical thinking. We accomplished this by studying ecology in general and global warming in particular. We are doing it with the help of technology and a couple of DVDs. The first one Diet For A New America (1991), and the second An Inconvenient Truth. To broaden their horizons globally, I first held a discussion of fossil fuel (coal, oil, natural gas) versus solar (photovoltaic cells) and wind power. We compared and contrasted the two and watched Nova's Saved by the Sun as background to this issue ... I found Diet For A New America (VHS) the visual companion to Frances Moore Lapp’s landmark book: Diet for a Small Planet. Both promoted a meatless diet and lowered protein intake, but for very different reasons. The video made it clear that in addition to the global warm-mongers chasing carbon-coughing cars that they should also be chasing carbon-coughing cows." -- Read the Full Article

Progressive Reform Looks Forward; NCLB Looks Back

4LAKIDS -- May 13, 2007

"One of the most telling (and oft repeated) complaints about No Child Left Behind/Standards Based/Test Driven Education Reforms is that they do not encourage critical thinking skills. Critical thinking skills are – uh – critical in the great "The World is Flat" economy of our twenty-first century. Unfortunately critical thinking is just not lacking in NCLB …it is lacking in the public discourse about just about everything. Debate is universally colored by the views from the extremes, political correctness ("Can one even say 'Colored'?") and the short attention span of the term-limited politico looking for the 'aha moment', the quick fix and a sound byte to feed the news cycle." -- Read the Full Article

Being in Control of Your Thinking

The Jakarta Post -- May 13, 2007
by Kayee Man & Dewi Susanti

"Different circumstances call for different types of thinking. Other types are accessible to most of us, but the type of thinking that makes up creative thinking is most often identified as divergent and convergent thinking ...
Divergent thinking is what we are doing when we try to look for many ideas to solve a problem ... The notion that divergent thinking is a main creative ability was the result of many years of research spurred by the Presidential Address given by the eminent psychologist Guilford at the American Psychological Association back in 1950 ... He called for psychometric and factor-analytical approaches to distill the component abilities of the creative person ... Thereafter, many associated divergent thinking with creative thinking, and often, the two terms were used synonymously. When one is generating ideas, one is thinking divergently ... Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is selecting and deciding in order to arrive at a conclusion. Critical thinking, which we do all the time, is part of convergent thinking ... The role of convergent thinking was given emphasis over the past 30 to 40 years in the development of the Creative Problem-Solving model by various researchers." -- Read the Full Article

The Critical Years: A Model Middle School

The New York Times -- May 12, 2007
by Winnie Hu

Briarcliff Manor, NY — "Briarcliff Middle School has emerged as a nationally recognized middle school that gets things right ... The 390 students here have consistently outperformed their peers on state tests. Last year the number of students passing state reading and math tests at each grade level ranged from 89 percent to 97 percent ... Briarcliff school officials have made a conscious decision to cultivate the middle school, instead of looking for ways to make middle schools disappear, as other districts have done by stretching elementary schools to cover eighth grade ... The school takes particular pride in its focus on how adolescents think and develop. Susan Howard, the Briarcliff principal, emphasized during a recent orientation for fifth-grade parents that a good middle school had to recognize and respond to the stages of adolescence as well as to fulfill their students’ intellectual promise. 'If you think about a recipe, if you leave out a key ingredient, you’re not going to get the same outcome,' she said ... So the school strives to develop critical thinking, teach organizational skills, and instill social and moral values. This is most visible in its adherence to Habits of Mind, a system developed by two educators, Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, and now used in about 300 schools worldwide ... Nadine McDermott, the assistant principal who brought Habits of Mind to the school, said she viewed herself as a life coach for the students ... She said that when students are sent to her office for disciplinary problems, she asks them to reflect on how they failed to follow one or more of the Habits of Mind. She frequently visits classes to grill students on what critical thinking skills they are using, or not using." -- Read the Full Article  --  View the Full Series: The Critical Years
Take time to watch the 3 minute multimedia slide show.

Muslim Women Find Their Voice in the US

Gulf Times -- May 12, 2007
by Louise Fenner

Washington, DC — "Muslim women living in the United States are finding that religious and cultural differences are tolerated and respected widely, says Tayyibah Taylor, the editor of Azizah magazine, a glossy quarterly written by and for Muslim women in North America ... Taylor recently participated in a US Department of State travelling speaker programme in which she spoke of her experiences as a Muslim woman in America to audiences in Thailand, Malaysia and Pakistan. – USINFO ... Taylor said she felt that 'Muslims in America are really in a very privileged position.' America, she said, had a legacy of freedom of speech and movement and support for critical thinking — things that 'are not always present in all Muslim majority countries.' -- Read the Full Article

UI Grads Receive Degrees

Iowa City Press-Citizen -- May 12, 2007
by Rachel Gallegos

“'There are real messes that need your help to be cleaned up,' said Coleen Rowley, who addressed the University of Iowa Col-lege of Law graduates. Rowley, one of three 'whistleblowers' chosen as Time magazine’s person of the year in 2002 for her FBI memo noting the missteps she felt the FBI took in the months leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, graduated from the UI Col-lege of Law in 1980 ... Rowley said she was surprised to be invited to come back to speak at her alma mater because she was one of the non-conformists in her class. She knew she wasn’t getting a law degree in order to become a lawyer. Instead, she knew from the start that she wanted it to help her become an FBI agent or foreign service officer after getting her undergraduate degree in French ... 'There’s almost no better environment than studying law to hone one’s critical thinking skills. Nothing better than the cognitive reading and training the mind to spot issues, Socrates’ method of questioning everything and producing the strongest argument for or against,' she said."  -- Read the Full Article

Abuse Under the Watch of Oregon's Justice System

Salem-News.Com -- May 12, 2007
by Tim King

Salem, OR — "Just when you thought you knew what was going on in your community, here comes a story that just may shatter the security of your American Dream. This is a story about abuse, survival, false religion and dubious court systems in a state that may be advanced on some levels, but sometimes proves to be a miserable failure in terms of equity and fairness and conventional thinking ... I believe this even more after covering the war in Afghanistan last winter. This is the epitome of a culture that uses religion as an excuse to mistreat females. Life overall is harder for women in Afghanistan in every respect, and their ability to rise up and defend themselves or find answers is greatly diminished by the extensive religion-based abuse ... And the same problem exists in Oregon ... Any one raised in a household that puts a higher emphasis on mindless obedience than critical thinking, is in a dangerous place, no matter how many Normal Rockwell paintings decorate the walls." -- Read the Full Article

Silencing Student Voices Hurts Education, Democracy

SPLC (Student Press Law Center) -- May 11

"Students who work on high school media learn to think critically, research topics, conduct interviews, write clearly for an audience and work together as a team. In schools with strong journalism programs, they also learn how a free and responsible press can work to improve their school communities, to inform, influence and entertain ... The highly publicized suspension of a journalism teacher and a growing number of school censorship cases prompted a coalition of 16 state and national organizations today to urge parents and others to rally behind students who, under the guidance of a qualified journalism educator, seek to practice journalism at school and learn the valuable lessons it teaches ... The group’s concern arose when the East Allen County (Ind.) Schools suspended and then transferred newspaper adviser Amy Sorrell to a new school after she allowed a student’s column supporting tolerance of gays to run without administrative approval, even though the district had not followed a policy requiring total prior review. School officials gave her an unpaid five-day suspension and say Sorrell will not teach journalism in her new school." -- Read the Full Article

Student Confidence

Infinite Thought  -- May 11, 2007

"Perhaps not at every university, but at least in my experience, students, even the very brightest, tend to massively downplay their work ... The educational class difference in the UK between those who went to schools that told them every day that they were 'the cream of the cream' and those that didn't strikes me as one of the most significant culturally subjective divides we have. In fact, what public schools 'sell' above all is confidence. It's all they need to sell - critical thinking just gets in the way when you're trying to be a future leader of industry/arms dealer/politico. If state schools had more time and resources to spend trying to convince working class and lower middle class kids that they were as smart as their private/independent school counterparts, there'd be a quiet revolution in the offing. It's not enough that some state school kids 'get elected' to go to Oxbridge so that they can play rapid catch-up with their cultural 'superiors' - this changes precisely nothing, and worse, fosters resentment among those who were 'smart enough' to break away from their 'lesser' peers." -- Read the Full Article

True modesty is one of the more appealing aspects of critical thinkers. It is most apparent in the company of intellectual humility offset by the wisdom that comes from independent integration and ownership of knowledge. That said, educational class discrimination is an ugly pretence to intellectual superiority grounded in social prejudice and ignorance. By definition, critical thinking is the antithesis of scholarship by proxie and intellectual elitism. Public schools that sell confidence to the exclusion of critical thinking -- and there are many -- are pedagogical shams that need the objectivity of critical reform.

Digital Divide Is No Myth

WRAL (LocalTechWire.Com) -- May 11, 2007
by Jane Smith Patterson

Raleigh, NC — "Watching television lately, you’re likely to have come across a theme in advertising for telecommunications networks and high-technology products. It is easy to spot, and if you have any sense of humor, it has surely struck you as ironic ...  The images are cleverly endearing, and wrap the viewer in a warm blanket of worldwide harmony. After all, there’s something intrinsically pleasant about seeing a Mongolian yak farmer trading text messages with his American pen pal on the newest handheld mobile device ...  And don’t you feel like a true citizen of the world when you see a cluster of young boys at a remote monastery crowding around their top-of-the-line laptop to watch a live, streaming video of an ACC basketball game? ...  Images such as these communicate reassurance about the human condition by saying that yes; friendship can be quickly and easily forged with someone on the other side of the world with only the touch of a key on a well-connected computer. My best guess is that this advertising is also intended to surprise, as the typical American viewer would surely be amazed to know that people in such far-removed locales are surrounded by the telecommunications infrastructure needed to trade instant messages and engage in robust online games like “World of Warcraft.” ...  The truth, however, is that many households in the United States lack this advanced connectivity.  And some communities maintain the belief that they are truly connected, despite having only dial-up connections that cannot withstand or display standard Web-based applications and tools. According to the International Telecommunications Union, the United States is ranked 16th on the world stage in terms of broadband penetration. To further characterize this slow pace of growth, another industry research tank, Telecompaper UK projects that Slovenia will surpass the United States in high-speed connectivity by the end of this year ...  One point should be obvious here. Set aside and disregard the entertainment value of the Internet, even as this is one of its greatest uses. Our transformation to a knowledge-based economy is impossible without broadband connectivity ... the global village around us is becoming more populated by the moment with commerce that demands critical thinking and world-class technology." -- Read the Full Story

Standardised Tests Fail Students, Say Teachers

The Australian (Keeping The Nation Informed) -- May 11, 2007
by Justine Ferrari, Education Writer

"Literacy and numeracy tests are invalid measures of student ability because they cannot assess a child's 'sense of wonder' and levels of cowardice or arrogance ... In a submission to the Senate inquiry into the academic standards of school education, the Australian Education Union argues against the use of standardised tests to measure student achievement and says 'there is no crisis in standards' ...  'The AEU has long been cautious about the use of basic skills tests and other standardised tests as a means of measuring the wellbeing of Australian schools,' it says ... 'Much of what is important in schooling is not measured by standardised tests' ... The submission from the teachers' union includes a list of 24 examples of qualities the AEU says are 'exceedingly difficult' to measure in tests, ranging from skills that tests purport now to measure, such as critical thinking, curiosity, question asking and creativity, to more esoteric qualities such as a sense of beauty and humour, courage, humility and spontaneity. While the union acknowledges that 7-12 per cent of students failed to meet minimum standards in literacy and numeracy, 'this does not indicate that standards are falling or that standards are worse in Australia than elsewhere' ...  The AEU submission argues the debate about falling educational standards is hysterical, based on 'myths, misconceptions and deliberate deceit' that makes scapegoats of teachers for their students' failings." -- Read the Full Article

21st Century Skills

The Denver Post -- May 11, 2007

"The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today's students will have 10-14 jobs by the age of 38. Thirty or 40 years ago, we knew the kinds of jobs our students would have. Today, we are preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist ... In order to succeed in school, work and life in the 21st century, our students need 21st century skills. The core subjects we all learned in school - reading, English, math, science, foreign languages, the arts, civics, government, history, economics and geography - must be expanded to include 21st century subjects such as global awareness, civic literacy, health and wellness, and financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy ... Beyond these academic content areas is a whole array of other skills essential to success in the 21st century. Never has it been more important for schools to develop life-long learners. Learning and thinking skills include critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity and innovation, collaboration, and information and media literacy. " -- Read the Full Article

Harvard Names 'Abramson Exellence In Teaching' Winners

Harvard University Gazette Online -- May 10, 2007
by Ryan Cortazar

"Glenda Carpio, assistant professor of African and African-American studies and of English and American literature and language, and Alison Frank, assistant professor of history, are this year’s winners of the Roslyn Abramson Award, given to junior faculty for excellence in undergraduate teaching ... The award is given each spring to 'a faculty member in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in recognition of his or her excellence and sensitivity in teaching undergraduates' ... 'Glenda Carpio and Alison Frank energize their classes with the enthusiasm they bear for their subjects and their particularized attention to the needs and interests of their students,” says David Pilbeam, Henry Ford II Professor of Human Evolution and interim dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “They model a rigorous intellectual engagement, helping undergraduates develop critical thinking skills that will last beyond Harvard. I congratulate these two exceptional teachers on the Abramson Award' ... In teaching history, Frank emphasizes the importance of critical and abstract thinking over facile analogies and parallels." -- Read the Full Article

Here, There, and Everywhere

The Journal (DeVry University) -- May 10, 2007
by Linda L. Briggs

"Although Digital Mapping Devices are growing in use in the society at large — from sports enthusiasts and census takers, to cars and boats — the technologies are just starting to gain traction in K-12. Advocates of digital mapping in the field and classroom say that it encourages skills like critical thinking and decision-making, and can serve as an excellent way for students to learn where data comes from and how to collect it, along with learning about their local area’s history, geography, topography, animal and plant populations, and much more ... Digital mapping for educational purposes begins in the field with a global positioning system, which is used to receive information from several dozen GPS satellites orbiting the earth. Students can use GPS devices to pinpoint various locations with remarkable accuracy ... Students used probes to gather data along a local river. When the data was loaded into a GIS system, it revealed spikes of high nutrients at one location on a given date. The students traced the cause back to a specific septic system failure, which was then repaired ... Recently, prices have dropped on GPS devices, making them much more affordable for schools. For example, a basic system from Garmin International that is common in K-12 use retails for around $100 ... The software has become much easier to use." -- Read the Full Article

Towards a More Vibrant University Sector

Scoop (Independent News) -- May 10, 2007
A Speach by Hon Dr Michael Cullen to Victoria University Law School, Downtown Campus, Wellington, NZ

Towards a more vibrant university sector ... There is strong recognition within government of the many and vital roles of universities within New Zealand – not only as places of higher learning, but as drivers of economic prosperity and as centres where New Zealand’s national identity is shaped ... I want to outline for you how the government’s new investment system will support these key strengths and also, how the new investment mechanisms will fundamentally change the nature of the dialogue between the universities and the government, as well as the way that funding is delivered ... The dialogue between universities and government is founded upon a longstanding relationship in which the government provides financial support to universities as independent centres of learning and research, and in turn, universities make a vital contribution to achieving the government's goals for sustainable economic and social development ... Universities are the lynchpin of a modern knowledge economy ... They provide a wide range of research-led degree and post-graduate education that is of international quality ... They undertake internationally-benchmarked research in a broad range of fields ... They engage in the dissemination and application of knowledge across all sectors of the economy, and promote learning and critical thinking throughout our society ... It is because we value this contribution and want to foster it that the government has decided to break from the atomised approach to funding under the EFTS system. That system encouraged a culture of chasing enrolments as a means of securing revenue, with the belief that an invisible hand would somehow ensure that those attempts to maximise revenue would serve the greater interests of New Zealand’s economy and its society ... Most of you will remember how the Grants Committee was criticised for its absorption in the world of university politics, and its lack of exposure to the real world – a world in which students sought to launch or re-launch careers, and in which employers sought to develop a workforce with a combination of technical skills and critical thinking ability ... With the current reforms we are aiming to steer a course between these two hazards. We have, on the one hand, a strong belief in the value of academic freedom, in what Cardinal Newman long ago called the “intrinsic fecundity of knowledge”. We need to encourage rigorous enquiry and the pursuit of knowledge because it creates a fertile ground out of which economic and social advancement grows." -- Read the Full Article

Diversity Revisited

National Review -- May 10, 2007
by Peter Wood

"Diversity really has enriched my life. It is helped me meet people very different from the academic mono-culture I once inhabited. Before diversity I hardly met a soul in higher education who didn’t believe that racial and ethnic preferences in college admissions are good policy ... The diversiphiles were right as well about some of their other claims on behalf of the magical properties of diversity. It has sharpened my critical thinking. How else to make sense of inane concepts like a “critical mass” of minorities, which is enshrined in Justice O’Connor’s decision in the Grutter case? This is the idea that the benefits of diversity kick in only when the right proportion of a minority group is present in a class, and the proportion differs according to the racial group ... The wistful tone that is creeping into my writing on diversiphiles comes from the sense these folks may be the last embers in the fire. California, Washington, and Michigan have passed ballot measures by large margins abolishing racial preferences in public institutions. Ward Connerly has now announced similar campaigns in Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, and Oklahoma aimed at the 2008 ballot. And then there is the dire news of a poll in California that purports to find that Californians aged 16 to 22 are just plain indifferent to race. According to the Los Angeles Times, “two-thirds say they have dated someone of another ethnicity, and a whopping 87% say they would marry or have a life partner of a different race.” Race has sunk so low in self-definition that it ranks below religious affiliation and even music preference." -- Read the Full Article

Harvard Task Force Calls for New Focus

New York Times -- May 10, 2007
by Sara Rimer

Cambridge, MA — "Joshua Billings, 22, says he did not come to Harvard for the teaching ... 'You’d be stupid if you came to Harvard for the teaching,” said Mr. Billings, who will graduate this spring and then go to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. 'You go to a liberal arts college for the teaching. You come to Harvard to be around some of the greatest minds on earth' ... And that is pretty much how the thinking has gone here at Harvard for several decades. As one of the world’s most renowned research universities, Harvard is where academic superstars are continually expected to revolutionize their fields of knowledge. Cutting-edge research is emphasized, and recognized with tangible rewards: tenure, money, prestige, prizes, fame ... But now, with strong support from the university’s interim president, Derek Bok, nine prominent professors are leading an effort to rethink the culture of undergraduate teaching and learning. Headed by Theda Skocpol, a social scientist, the group has issued a report calling for sweeping institutional change, including continuing evaluation and assessment of teaching and learning, and a proposal that teaching be weighed equally with contributions to research in annual salary adjustments ... The nation’s leading research universities have been looking for ways to better balance research and teaching for the past decade. Some institutions, like Yale and Princeton, are known for their commitment to both. Columbia is reviewing its undergraduate curriculum, including evaluating the teaching ... One of the most significant aspects of the report, Dr. Connor said, is the stature of the professors who worked on it. In addition to Professor Skocpol, the group includes Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian; Xiao-Li Meng, the chairman of the statistics department; and Eric Mazur, a physicist who is known for his innovative teaching as well as his research ... The aim of the report is not to de-emphasize research in any way, but to bring about a greater institutional focus on teaching, Professor Ulrich said. 'This is not a report that says we’re going to hire teachers who are not also scholars,' she said. 'We want both' ... Still, despite the perception that some of the greatest minds at Harvard are not all that committed to teaching, Professor Skocpol said the reality was more complicated ... Joshua Billings is majoring in German and the classics. He says he has been fortunate to learn from great scholars who are also great teachers. But he also says that he did not learn much from two large lecture courses he took to satisfy requirements. He was one of about 500 students in one social sciences course led by a junior faculty member whose lectures, Mr. Billings said, were 'disorganized, repetitive and incredibly reductive' ... 'We read good stuff, but I don’t think the lectures added anything,' he said. 'People were sitting there doing e-mails on their laptops'... Those seminars, and the level of engagement they offered with professors, were transforming, he said. His best teachers, he said, 'all committed to making me a better thinker, and challenged me to improve'... But, he added, he believes his experience is 'not the norm' for Harvard undergraduates. 'I think many people spend a great deal of their time in large lecture classes, have little direct contact with professors, and are frustrated by poorly trained teaching fellows,' he said ... As a model for innovative teaching, Professor Skocpol pointed to Professor Mazur, the physicist ... He threw out his lectures in his introductory physics class when he realized his students were not absorbing the underlying principles, relying instead on memory to solve problems. His classes now focus on students working in small groups ... 'When I asked them to apply their knowledge in a situation they had not seen before, they failed,' Professor Mazur said. 'You have to be able to tackle the new and unfamiliar, not just the familiar, in everything. We have to give the students the skills to solve such problems. That’s the goal of education.'" -- Read the Full Article

Survey: Kids Ill-Prepared for Kindergarten

Pittsburg Business Times -- May 10, 2007
by Susan Paff

"A majority of business executives say children are ill-prepared to enter kindergarten and that it affects the work force, according to a new survey ...  The survey, released Thursday by PNC Financial Services Group Inc., found that 56 percent of business executives nationwide said children do not have basic skills upon entering kindergarten. The same percentage also said attending a preschool program is extremely important ... PNC commissioned Harris Interactive Inc. to conduct the survey in conjunction with its 'Grow Up Great' initiative ...  The survey included teachers, parents, general public, business leaders and members of the U.S. Congress ... Despite registering concern about school-readiness, 39 percent of executives surveyed said the generation entering the work force hasn't changed in terms of preparedness, as opposed to 30 percent who said it had gotten worse ... Justin Driscoll, managing director, education network, at the Pittsburgh Technology Council, said manufacturing and information technology companies have said they have seen a decline in the number of qualified workers. However, 'whether or not preschool has anything to do with that I couldn't say one way or the other. What is definitely necessary is a higher level of critical thinking in education,' he said." -- Read the Full Article

New Forensics Major Expected to Come

TheChannelsOnline (Santa Barbara City College) -- May 10, 2007
by Jaclyn Gonzalez

"The Administration of Justice Department is in the process of establishing a new forensics major, although the lack of lab space and development of the curriculum means the new major may still be semesters away ... 'With programs like CSI, there is just a natural curiosity on the part of many of our students to learn more about forensic science,' said former Los Angeles Park Ranger and current City College Professor Anne Redding ... The new forensics major will be the final piece to what Redding fondly calls the department's 'School of Justice Studies' ... Some of the courses the department is hoping to add to the major are what Redding called hybrid classes, which are related to forensics work but not traditionally set in lab environment. Some of the hybrid classes being developed includes forensic photography and crime scene processing ... 'The Administration of Justice program is not police training,' Redding said. 'The purpose at our college is to help gain critical thinking skills and go beyond what one would learn at a police academy.' -- Read the Full Article

Design Students Take Part in Architecture Competition

Henry Daily Hearld -- May 9, 2007
by Johnny Jackson

"The 18-year-olds — Adam Schultz, Jake Norman, and Micah Grizzell — were competing against each other in Luella’s first Architectural Modeling Competition, the no-consequence culmination of an entire school year of hands-on architectural design and model construction ... asked to design a 1,000-square-foot, one-bedroom ranch home using only the dimensions of the home’s foundation ... The students dreamed up design concepts and turned those concepts into floor plans, then into three-dimensional drawings, and finally into a three-dimensional model home ... 'They’ve actually done the actual drawing,' said John Uesseler, coordinator for Henry County Schools’ career, technology, and agricultural education program ... In the class, design students learn computer-aided design, concepts of architecture, and some elements of building construction ... 'It really gives them some critical thinking skills,' said Uesseler, also a judge for the competition. 'It can prepare them for Griffin Tech or Georgia Tech.'” -- Read the Full Article

Probability and Incredulity

NeuroLogica Blog -- May 9. 2007
by Steven Novella

"Logic is a common theme in this NeuroLogica blog, and a finely tuned understanding of logic both valid and fallacious is essential to critical thinking. But fallacious logic is not always simple to understand and apply to the real world, so it is helpful to discuss examples and applications ... The essence of this fallacy is the argument that a particular claim is not true because it is difficult to imagine, understand, or believe. What I consider to be a subset of this fallacy is the argument from ridicule – that something is wrong because it is ridiculous ... This does not mean that every statement that a claim is ridiculous, or that it is unbelievable, is committing this fallacy. It is only the argument that a claim is wrong because it is unbelievable that is invalid. If, rather, one argues that a claim is ridiculous because it lacks evidence, plausibility, or probability – that is not a fallacy ..." -- Read the Full Article

Nandua HS Grad Helps U.Va. to Litigation National Title

The Daily Times -- May 9, 2007

Charlottesville, VA — "Nandua High School graduate Jamar Walker helped the University of Virginia Mock Trial team win the 23rd annual collegiate Mock Trial National Championship Tournament, held April 13-15 in St. Petersburg, Fla., in a win over Harvard ... Walker played the role of plaintiff attorney, giving the opening statement. On defense, he assumed the role of an eyewitness to a shooting. In the national championship finals, Walker was an attorney for the second consecutive year ... Collegiate Mock Trial is an interscholastic activity which has recently exploded in popularity on college campuses across the country. Coordinated by the American Mock Trial Association since its founding in 1985, collegiate Mock Trial provides students with an opportunity to learn first-hand about the work of trial attorneys, understand the judicial system, develop critical thinking and enhance communication skills. This year, over 500 teams from colleges and universities across the country registered to compete in collegiate Mock Trial ... U.Va. also defeated Harvard in last year's Championship Round, making this year's final the first re-match in collegiate Mock Trial history."  -- Read the Full Article

I.T. Exec Out of Touch? 7 Signs

CIO Insight (Strategies for IT Business Leaders) -- May 9, 2007
by Charles Ehin, Ph.D.

"We are all keenly aware that there are hundreds of I.T. consultants around the world ready to jump to our assistance. Of course, many of these experts can be out of touch with the latest developments in their respective fields ... We can all at times be afflicted with this debilitating but seldom talked-about condition. Let me suggest why this state of mind can be quite common ... Research is considered to be a waste of time. 'We have been very successful and our experience speaks for itself'... Lack of critical thinking. 'That may work well within such and such an organization, but we are different'... So, it's quite apparent that occasionally we can all get out of touch. The best we can do is to use extreme caution as we go through cycles of theory development and theory modification or replacement. Hence, no matter what conceptual framework we come up with, we should be keenly aware that something else most likely will eventually replace or modify the older models." -- Read the Full Article

University Course Tackles Animal Rights Issues

Ohio Farmer -- May 9, 2007

"Ohio State University's Department of Animal Sciences has launched a new course, Animals in Society that introduces students to varied dynamics of that human/animal relationship, ranging from historical contexts to social, cultural, economic and legal frameworks ... 'We found in our own recent study that elderly people in nursing homes who were visited by a volunteer trained to administer therapy were more likely to benefit from their treatment if the volunteer brought along a dog during their visits,' says Pauleen Bennett, a senior lecturer at Monash University, Victoria, Austriala, and one of the course lecturers ... Animal rights and animal welfare groups have done an excellent job of informing people of some of the truly awful things that are happening to animals every day. Many people however believe that the exploitation of animals by humans is inherently wrong in a moral sense," Bennett say ... Animals in Society is designed to equip students with the knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary to address questions concerning how animals can best co-exist with human societies. Through the course, students will learn to appreciate the physical, social and psychological interdependence between species and be able to use the knowledge acquired to objectively, critically, and sensitively evaluate and comment on emerging issues regarding animals in society." -- Read the Full Article

ASU Student Doesn’t Credit Pomp for His Circumstances

EastValleyTribune.Com (Metro Phoenix's East Valley Region) -- May 9, 2007
by Ryan Gabrielson, Tribune

"For every professor at Arizona State University, there is an average of 22 students vying for attention ... But Michel Kinsy didn’t have to worry about securing face time with faculty. The computer systems engineering major, who graduates Thursday, worked directly with some of ASU’s top engineers ... Kinsy, 27, has spent much of the past year working on advanced research on cutting-edge energy systems. And as a result, next year he’ll be doing research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ... 'When I first got here, graduate studies were not part of my overall plans,” Kinsy said. Then, last year, computer-engineering professor Sarma Vrudhula called Kinsy to offer the student a job in his lab working on fuel-cell battery hybrid systems ... 'I’m not that great of a student. You only get confidence when other people place confidence in you,' he said ... Almost any student, with the right motivation and the opportunity, could achieve what he has, Kinsy said ... In the coming years, a lot more ASU undergraduate students will be offered the chance to participate in their professors’ research ... ASU President Michael Crow said that now there are only a few thousand undergraduate research assistants. That number, however, is expected to rise exponentially across the entire university ... Universities often view their research operations as a business, separate from academics, Crow said. At ASU, that thinking is being reversed ..'We grew out of a teachers’ college and that’s still part of our culture'... Research is important for students to be exposed to, because it requires greater critical thinking skills than most schoolwork ... At MIT, 'a 4.0 is not special. Everyone there has it. What makes a difference from one graduate student to another is creativity,'” Kinsy said."  -- Read the Full Article

A Class in Reading News

The New York Times -- May 9, 2007
by Alan Finder

Stony Brook, N.Y. — "It was early in the morning, but the class was lively. Perhaps it had something to do with the news article the professor had just handed out for the students to read ... 'Girls Go Wild for Booze, Sex,' the headline read ... The article reported on a survey in which 83 percent of young women said spring break involved heavy drinking and 74 percent said it included sex and outrageous behavior. The teacher, Howard Schneider, encouraged the class at the State University at Stony Brook to analyze the article. Were independent experts interviewed? Had outside experts seen the survey? Were its questions reasonable?... A few days after publication, he told the class, several polling experts came forward to challenge the survey. It had been conducted on the Internet with respondents who volunteered to participate, and was not a scientifically random survey. Two-thirds of the women surveyed had never even been on spring break ...'This is really a course in critical thinking, about applying critical thinking to the media,' said Mr. Schneider, who is dean of the School of Journalism at Stony Brook, which formally opened its doors last fall." -- Read the Full Article

Stadiums Before Students?

The Journal -- May 9, 2007
by Christina Shaller

"Businesses invest heavily in sports arena advertising but little in education -- then complain of an unskilled job pool ... US high school and college graduates are not prepared for today's job market. HR officers tell us so time and again, and tech companies say they must continue outsourcing to foreigners because US students are deficient in technical skills as well as associated soft skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. So wouldn't it make sense for businesses to work closely with schools, to supplement classroom studies with internships or other programs designed to groom tomorrow's workforce?"  -- Read the Full Article

Code of Honor Should Unite Shia, Sunnis

The Detroit News -- May 8, 2007
by Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi

Detroit, MI —  "The faithful are indeed brothers. Therefore make peace between your brothers. -- Quran 49:10 ... Muslims regardless of their school of thought are targets of nonstop Islamophobic prejudice. The fear that the daily tragic news from Iraq may ignite clashes of opinions urgently requires responsible engagement by the highest Islamic leaders ... This Thursday at 4 p.m. will be an unforgettable moment for Muslims in Michigan. Religious leaders from both the Shia and Sunni communities and members of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan will meet at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights to sign a Muslim Code of Honor. The code commits its signers to reject extremism in all its forms ... Hundreds of great scholars from Shia and Sunni backgrounds have struggled to unify Muslims ... Differences in opinion are not only allowed in Islam, but critical thinking is vital in dealing with new developments. When thinkers disagree with piety and sincerity, and if the goal is solving problems, variation in thinking leads every side of a debate closer to the truth."  -- Read the Full Article

Why Teach Critical Thinking?

LearningIsMessy Blog -- May 8, 2007

"I received the following email today:  'Recently Marines over in Iraq supporting this country in OIF wrote to Starbucks because they wanted to let them know how much they liked their coffee and try to score some free coffee grounds. Starbucks wrote back telling the Marines thanks for their support in their business, but that they don’t support the War and anyone in it and that they won’t send them the Coffee ... So as not to offend them we should not support in buying any Starbucks products' ... Now to most of us this had “RED FLAG” written all over it ... But the person who forwarded it to everyone on our staff just saw a seeming injustice and wanted to help spread the word. To me this is a lesson on why we cannot just avoid teaching kids the tools and spaces of the net and how to use them effectively and ethically. This also points out why we must spend more time on teaching critical thinking and analysis - how to question what we see and read and hear." -- Read the Full Article

Here's a good example of how misinformation is sometimes intentially created to manipulate competitive interests in the marketplace. It also demonstrates how bad information unexposed to critical thinking leads to inadvertant beliefs and how such beliefs — even among best intentions — sometimes enable and perpetuate injustices and immoral inflictions on others. On a larger scale, this illustrates a moral question: Profiteering and the integrity of people who knowingly or unknowingly enable profiteering. In a society where each of us is free to believe, speak and vote as we choose, is it morally okay for anyone not to critically think about what they believe, say and do?

WSU’s Travel Study Program Takes Off

News/Events (Winona State University) -- May 8, 2007

"Winona State University’s Travel Study Program is sending students abroad and inspiring them to make a difference ... The purpose of the Travel Study Program is to provide opportunities for students to engage in critical thinking; gain personal experience with value systems, diverse lifestyles, and other cultures; and to participate in meaningful service projects. WSU encourages students to participate in the Travel Study Program to enhance their global and cultural awareness." -- Read the Full Article

Carver Students Heading to Mars

WacoTrib.Com -- May 8, 2008
by David Doerr, Tribune-Hearld Staff Writer

"Crews of eighth-grade astronauts blasted off Monday morning on a mission to Mars at G.W. Carver Academy. The students will play out a seven-day space adventure this week using some creativity, technology and imagination ... Teachers at Carver have converted a supply closet into a rocket ship with laptop computers, mock instrument panels and experiment stations. A similar treatment was applied to a computer lab down the hall to create a “mission control” headquarters, where other students communicate with the astronauts via radio ... But the mock space mission is not all fun and games. Instead, it is a carefully crafted, interdisciplinary activity that requires students to solve problems and use critical thinking skills, Carver principal Pamela Correa said." -- Read the Full Article

Turkmenistan Government Wants Education Reform

IWPR (Institute for War & Peace Reporting) -- May 8, 2007

"Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov wants to introduce modern teaching methods and model the education system on that used in Russia, but NBCentralAsia commentators say this will be no easy task given the devastation caused by his predecessor’s policies ... At a cabinet meeting held on April 30, President Berdymuhammedov told officials that schools and universities must introduce the interactive methods of teaching used in Russia, involving new multimedia technology to hold discussions and online conferences between students and teachers. The president said school pupils and students must learn the skills of critical thinking and analysing information."  -- Read the Full Article

Major Choice for College-Bound

Ledger-Enquirer.Com (Columbus, GA)  -- May 8, 2007
by Carolyn Feibel, The Record (Hackensack, NJ)

"Should college-bound seniors choose a major before they go? ... Ann Melone, a counselor at New Jersey's Leonia High School, says the debate, at heart, is really about the purpose of undergraduate education. Is college about training for a specific job or profession? Or about developing critical thinking skills and being exposed to a wide range of fields?"  -- Read the Full Article

Dumbing Down of Society

NKY.Com -- May 8, 2007
by Edwin Kagin, Attorney

"Throughout human history, people have queued up into one of two great lines. The first is composed of those who understand that science, reason, and critical thinking lead to meaningful lives and healthy communities. In the other line are those who hold that their religious views should be made law universal. If their particular revealed dogma and ancient sacred text conflicts with the discoveries of reason and science, then the dogma should win and the facts should lose." -- Read the Full Article

Accept Failures in Decisions

Business Standard -- May 8, 2007
by Amit Ranjan Rai

New Delhi — "If you believe that good decisions lead to good business results and bad ones to bad, think again. Often companies credit business leaders who deliver good end-results and discredit those who can't. That's a wrong practice, says Professor Zeger Degraeve of London Business School, a specialist in decision sciences and risk analysis ... According to Degraeve, the only way companies can inculcate a culture of experimentation and innovation is by accepting failures in decisions and not blaming the decision-makers for bad results. Such a practice encourages them to take risks, and ultimately produces better and more winners ... The process is a series of questions that good decision-makers ask themselves. You can essentially summarise it by saying, it is about ICACI ... Good decision-making is also about effective communication with other stakeholders in the decision. It is about asking other people about criteria, alternatives and constraints — by asking other people you are involving them in the process of decision-making. Their answers come from their experience .. But, at the same time, the decision-making process is not only about communication and understanding, it is ultimately about action — joint commitment to action. It’s about engaging your team towards the choice that has been made. Business is about action, it’s about ultimately doing things. " -- Read the Full Article

Prizes for Supporting Israel?

CounterPunch (America's Best Newsletter) -- May 7.2007
by Sonja Karkar

"Every now and then, journalists who have shown excellence in their work are rewarded. A prize that recognises their investigative skills and critical thinking is a worthy achievement; a prize that rewards them for using their profession to "conspicuously" support a foreign state in conflict, is not. Rather, it raises questions about their impartiality, good judgment and integrity. Their professionalism can no longer be trusted." -- Read the Full Story

Nurses Struggle Against the Odds

Seattle Post-Intelligencer -- May 7, 2007
by Kathleen Bartholomew

"Of all of the industrialized countries, the United States has the highest number of medically uninsured people. Yet we pay the most per person for health care. Waste is excessive, yet hospitals are financially flailing. Nowhere does this make more of an impact than at the bedside ... The average age of a nurse today is 47. Those nurses have worked for more than 20 years in the profession, and, quite frankly, nurses are tired. Advances in technology have not eased a nurse's workload. Patients are sicker, have a shorter stay, more medications, greater emotional and psychological needs and more than one illness. The compressed workload is the reason even new nurses are leaving the profession ... The majority of a nurse's work is invisible -- to the patient, doctor and society. Nurses must check the medications and use critical thinking to determine if a drug should be withheld, omitted or ordered." -- Read the Full Article

Are iPod-Banning Schools Cheating Our Kids?

Techworld -- May 7, 2007
by Mike Elgan

"The Associated Press published an article last week about high schools increasingly banning iPods because some kids use them to cheat ... The article, reprinted in USA Today and hundreds of other newspapers, reported one example where a school "recently enacted a ban on digital media players after school officials realized some students were downloading formulas and other material onto the players ... I don't want to second-guess the individual decisions of specific teachers and school principals. But the ban does raise questions, the most interesting of which is: Should iPods or other handheld gadgets instead be 'required' during tests?... Most high school students prepare for tests by guessing what facts might be on the test, then trying to memorize those facts to maximize their grades. Hours after the test, those facts tend to be forgotten. This is a gross oversimplification, sure, but largely true ... So many college students I've met -- even at some of the nation's top universities -- are there because they have an aptitude for memorization. Many straight-A high school students have few interests, little curiosity and zero inclination toward intellectual discovery. Our system rewards the memorizers and punishes the creative thinkers ... An iPod, when used during tests, is nothing more than a machine that stores and spits out data. By banning iPods and other gadgets, we're teaching kids to actually become iPods -- to become machines that store and spit out data. Instead, we should be teaching them to use iPods -- to use that data and to be human beings who can think -- and leave data storage to the machines ... The larger, more interesting question is: Why do we devote so much time and energy teaching kids to memorize facts we know they'll forget? We should instead teach critical thinking, creative decision-making and sophisticated information retrieval." -- Read the Full Article

The Last Straw, Again

The Seattle Times -- May 7, 2007 
by Jim Horn

"Cathy Beyer just gave her students the complete opposite of a standardized test ... Her test lasted seven years. She tracked 304 University of Washington students all the way through college. She reviewed coursework. Interviewed them repeatedly about what they learned. Had them write essays to assess their critical thinking. The result is a 428-page book called "Inside the Undergraduate Experience." -- Read the Full Article

Initiative Aims to Boost Retention

The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) -- May 7, 2007
by Nancy C. Rodriguez

"It used to be that students were guaranteed two things would happen if they enrolled in a course taught by fine arts professor Amy Stewart. She'd walk into the classroom, and she'd lecture ... 'I always thought, You either learn to get into it, or you don't and you take another class,'  said Stewart, who has taught art history, appreciation and administration at Jefferson Community and Technical College for seven years ... But community colleges in Kentucky and around the nation know that too many of their students aren't 'getting it,' because they lack the reading, writing and critical-thinking skills they need to succeed, officials say. " -- Read the Full Article

Green Light for Graduates

TheAge.Com.AU -- May 7, 2007
by Lisa Mitchell 

Melbourne, VIC — "Her mother once lived with the Black Panthers, her cousin was the founder of Community Aid Abroad, but Verity McLucas eyed a career in dance before realising that her satisfaction, too, might come from tackling the future of the planet ... 'The range of employment opportunities is growing steadily, and from where I stand, the environmental industry is gearing up for a large role on the main stage up there with general employment industries,' she says. 'Specialist skills will always be relevant to certain roles, but all types of skills will be needed as the employment matrix becomes larger' ... Ian Thomas, associate professor at RMIT's School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, says study opportunities fall broadly into four areas: science; engineering; general environmental studies; and environmental education ... The programs range from Bachelors of Environmental Science with specialist majors that include marine biology, ecology, and wildlife and conservation biology, to double degrees, a range of Masters, PhDs and TAFE-based certificates or diplomas ... And there are plenty of takers, says Dr Cathy Oke, a careers advisor for EJN - 80 per cent of the calls she receives are from people looking to shift their career to something greener ... 'According to the Guide to Environmental Careers report, it hankers for graduates with general skills, such as effective communication (verbal and written) skills, planning and organising skills and critical thinking skills, on top of their environmental qualification. There are grumbles about poor report-writing skills and lack of ability in the field, but generally employers do appreciate the need to train graduates further in their particular specialties." -- Read the Full Article

Horrors: It’s Test Time!

The Examiner -- May 7, 2007
by Erica Jacobs

Washington, DC — "For the next four weeks, teachers and students will live and breathe the test. “The test” may differ from one student to another, but it always arrives too soon and, once completed, is an anti-climax ...The learning of my 107 students will be measured Thursday by the Educational Testing Service, which composes and pre-test multiple-choice and essay questions for the College Board’s Advanced Placement program. I know the AP test well because I have helped score it for 20 years, and it is one of the few standardized assessment tools I admire. It tests what is important in students of English literature: the ability to read closely and write clearly ... Even the multiple choice portion of the AP test, so hard that Ph.D.s in English literature (like me) struggle with the answers along with their classes, has been designed to test critical thinking and not facts about novels and authors. I applaud the focus on skills rather than memorization." -- Read the Full Article

Yingling & the Generals: Truth is the Rx

Pittsburg Tribune-Review -- May 7, 2007

"Lt. Col. Paul Yingling knows that open criticism of the brass is dangerous to the career of an Army officer ... Yet, the Iraq veteran, now deputy commander of the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, handed down a scathing indictment. His paper, 'A failure in generalship,' appears in the Armed Forces Journal ... Yingling's prescription? A new kind of general who is grounded in critical thinking that compels him to prepare for the next war, not the last. The new general is willing to risk his career to speak the truth -- in public if necessary." -- Read the Full Article

Harvard Offers Scholarships to Jordanian Women

MaximsNews.Com (An Independent Voice from the United Nations) -- May 6, 2007

"Thanks to two fellowships announced by the Women's Leadership Board (WLB) at Harvard in honor of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah's visit, Thursday, a number of Jordanian students will soon be able to experience everything that the university has to offer ... the young women will be required to participate in a series of leadership skill building classes and activities designed by the Women and Public Policy Program with support from the Women’s Leadership Board. These sessions will focus on communications, critical thinking, decision making, and negotiation skills" -- Read the Full Article

Kihei-Based Program to Begin in July

The Maui News -- May 6, 2007
by Claudine San Nicolas

"The new Kihei Science Technology Engineering and Math Middle School will accommodate 48 students in a program developed by the staff of the Kihei Charter School. The new middle school campus will concentrate on developing student analysis and problem-solving abilities by offering a curriculum based on science and math activities ... '
We’re not saying we’re going to create engineers,' Kihei Charter School Assistant Director Gail Weaver said. 'It’s the critical thinking and the problem solving that we want to facilitate. We want to give our students skills that they can use for the rest of their lives, no matter what they choose to do.'” -- Read the Full Article

Inside the Ashram

The Sunday Paper -- May 6, 2007
by Josh Clark

"One of Atlanta’s hottest trends raises questions of cultish behavior — but does the label fit?... A little more than 35 years ago, a Jewish housewife named Joyce Green sat meditating in her apartment. In a trancelike state, Green says she was approached by Jesus Christ, who mentioned to her that she should go out and spread the good news of all religions, 'for all ways are mine' ... cult expert Rick Ross claims that there is evidence that the Kashi are indeed a cult ... 'I certainly wouldn’t recommend the ashram to anyone under any circumstances,' Ross tells SP. 'Joyce Green, who calls herself Ma, is a person who has absolute control over the ashram without any meaningful accountability' ... Ross cites the three criteria for a destructive cult that Dr. Robert Jay Lifton first posited in his 1981 critical study, Cult Formation: The leader must have absolute authority and be at the center of the cult. There must be a process of indoctrination that impairs critical thinking. The leader does the group harm ... Ross says he believes that Kashi meets all three of these criteria." -- Read the Full Article

MUHC Celebrates International Nurses Week

MUHC News (McGill University Health Center) -- May 6, 2007

"Again this year, the McGill University Health Centre is celebrating International Nurses Week. The event takes place from May 7 to 12 and honours the year-round work and commitment of our 3000 MUHC nurses ... Ms. Chambers-Evans is president of the adult clinical ethics committee and a clinical ethicist with the MUHC clinical ethics service. She teaches ethics at the School of Nursing and Faculty of Medicine at McGill University and also within the MUHC Nursing Department itself. 'I love helping nurses identify and resolve ethical dilemmas,' she adds. She is also involved in many projects at the MUHC that deal with 'end-of-life' care and has collaborated to develop many policies and programs surrounding this kind of care ... What advice does Ms. Chambers-Evans have for anyone considering this career path? 'We are looking for people who have a passion for helping others, who appreciate team work, who have critical thinking skills, and who have the desire to learn and discover.' -- Read the Full Article

An Education in Cooperation

The Columbus Dispatch -- May 5, 2007
by Jane Hawes

"From elementary to college, schools are coming full circle to a curriculum that stresses character and values ... On every channel, there were people fighting. Shrieking pundits punctuated their opinions with glares and finger-pointing. They yelled. They threw out accusations. Administrators at Bowling Green State University were tired of the bickering ... 'If you watch news-opinion television, you see that people can't talk to each other without raising the decibel level,' said Donald Nieman, dean of BGSU's College of Arts and Sciences ... 'Our goal is not to prescribe a set of values,' Nieman said. 'It's to first recognize where value differences exist in a debate and then secondly develop the critical thinking skills to make thoughtful choices where value conflicts come into play' ... Introduce the word values in a publicly funded school district and some people get nervous." -- Read the Full Article

Definitions of core concepts that include core values are best recognized, understood, defined, and reconciled within a process of critical thought, not as a prelude to critical thought. You can't understand or define a value you haven't thought about. It is a common mistake to list and then attempt defending positions before we've actually thought much about them. Our debating societies and media foster a culture of defending uncritical beliefs and opinions with rhetoric and tendentious behavior rather than with reason. As a result, debate is less about critical and integral thought — less about intellectual integrity — and more about rhetorical delivery and entertainment. We put on red shirts or blue shirts, define our platforms in left or right party affiliations with superficial cookie cutter platitudes and senseless propaganda digging in to shout polemics at each other. The objective in debate is to play to a third party audience against an opposing team to "win" that audience's favor. With insufficient time, the debating team with the best "zingers," one-liners, soundbites, makeup, etcetera usually wins the audience and debate, even when their arguments are wrong. In contrast, dialectic arguments — where participants of "good faith" walk down a path "peripatetically" discussing problems and hypothetical solutions without time restraints and without defending predetermined positions on issues not knowing where a shared line of reasoning will take them with no objective other than to define and resolve problems —intellectual currency is advanced and pressing problems get solved. In a dialectic process of asking essential questions, of sharing independent insights, and of creating/examining the full range of possible solutions critically, the best argument for resolving a problem usually constructs itself. Unlike debates, when a dialectic argument wins, everyone who participates in it wins. 

Just Facts, Not Debate Required in Legislation

Naples Daily News -- May 4, 2007
by Katherine Lewis

"Web site seeks to overturn law of how history is taught ...  History should be factual, but can it be more?... That is the debate leading a group of concerned historians to conclude that children won’t be taught history the correct way if a provision in the state’s A++ legislation is allowed to stay in place ... To express their concern that the provision in the bill will ruin history education, the group has started an online petition at and hope to overturn that portion of the legislation ... But those who helped put the language into the bill said it is necessary to ensure students are learning the facts and aren’t getting opinions from teachers who might want to push a liberal agenda ... .'As a historian, (the language about history education in the A++ bill) is a misuse of what history is,' said Robert Cassanello, a visiting assistant professor at the University of Central Florida Orlando. 'It’s not history ... History uses facts, evidence and critical thinking skills to analyze, evaluate and interpret the past. It is through critical analysis and familiarity of historical interpretations and debates that students will receive a more complete understanding of the American nation and its people.'"-- Read the Full Article

Republican Candidates and Evolution

The Huffington Post -- May 4, 2007
by Jackson Williams

"In the wake of this week's Republican debate, the AP reports that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has now further explained his lack of belief in evolution ... The story states that he feels students should be given credit for having the intelligence to think through various theories for themselves and come to their own conclusions ...  Christianity is a religious 'faith.'  It's the faith in which I was raised. People 'take things on faith,' it is said, even without full knowledge of the truth of what it is they are taking. In a religious context, the definition of faith is generally a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny. Belief in the Bible, and in the Book of Genesis, is a matter of faith ...  The AP story also quotes Governor Huckabee as saying, 'I'm not sure what in the world that has to do with being president of the United States.' -- Read the Full Story

As products of our own traditions and social conditioning, each of us has intellectual blind spots. While it is always easy to see inherent predispostions —"prejudices"— in others, we are always the last to recognize it in ourselves. As aspiring critical thinkers, we learn critical thinking is not about the other guy. It's about yourself.  We hold ourselves accountable to the same intellectual principles that we would hold others. Yet, as voters, it is about the other guy.  We have a decision to make and are obliged to find and elect leaders capable of recognizing and climbing out of their own intellectual shortcomings. It's not always how a candidate stands on issues but the integral line of reasoning that gets them to postions that is most important. It's about their intellectual integrity. So, a politician's social and religious makeup is central to the way he/she sees and intellectually deals with not only their own issues, but the great issues of our day. Blind faith grounded in religious doctrine and imposed with "authority" on options and creative solutions to real problems in secular governance is not a road upon which rational societies should be expected to follow.

Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops

The New York Times -- May 4, 2007
by Winnie Hu 

Liverpool, N.Y. — "The students at Liverpool High have used their school-issued laptops to exchange answers on tests, download pornography and hack into local businesses. When the school tightened its network security, a 10th grader not only found a way around it but also posted step-by-step instructions on the Web for others to follow (which they did) ... Scores of the leased laptops break down each month ... So the Liverpool Central School District, just outside Syracuse, has decided to phase out laptops starting this fall, joining a handful of other schools around the country that adopted one-to-one computing programs and are now abandoning them as educationally empty — and worse ...  Such disappointments are the latest example of how technology is often embraced by philanthropists and political leaders as a quick fix, only to leave teachers flummoxed about how best to integrate the new gadgets into curriculums. Last month, the United States Department of Education released a study showing no difference in academic achievement between students who used educational software programs for math and reading and those who did not ... In the school library, an 11th-grade history class was working on research papers. Many carried laptops in their hands or in backpacks even as their teacher, Tom McCarthy, encouraged them not to overlook books, newspapers and academic journals. 'The art of thinking is being lost,' he said. 'Because people can type in a word and find a source and think that’s the be all end all.'" -- Read the Full Article

Most of us take thinking for granted. Here's an example of well intentioned philanthropists, political leaders, and school administrators wishing to make information technology available to students assuming IT, just by being available, would teach students to learn better in one "quick fix.."  IT is a useful tool for researching and processing wider arrays of information in the learning process, but it can be a distraction from the fundamental pedagogical mission of teaching students how to think and learn better. Within the foundational grounding necessary to critically think deeper, broader and better, computers become powerful tools for the intellect. Critical thinkers with access to more and better information and information processes, learn exponentially better.

Credentialism and Critical Thought

PopMatters -- May 3, 2007
by Rob Horning

"In discussing Marilee Jones, the former dean of admissions at MIT who resigned after it was discovered that she had doctored her own résumé more than 25 years ago ... Credentialism is when employers require things like college degrees (from preferred schools) for their own sake, not for any skills they guarantee. This prerequisite serves a filtering function to weed out superfluous people—those who can’t game the admissions system, or haven’t been docile enough to be trained from an early age to prepare for it, or lack the money or the know-how to get it out of the existing aid systems — and allows meritocracy to be undermined by the very act of trying to institutionalize it ... Anyway, this is to say aspirants are wise to learn how to think about processes rather than results and to consider how they can profitably do more than what they are told to do. I felt I could generally tell the best students by how far they were willing to go without explicit instructions, and I often was aware of the paradox of teaching 'critical thinking' as I often pretended to do — it basically means teaching disobedience, preparing students to ultimately recognize the limits of what you say." -- Read the Full Article

Indeed, there are no better students than those who assume responsibility for their own learning. A critically engaged mind looks beyond authority to ask its own questions setting the initiatives to find and critically evaluate its own answers. There is no better teacher than one who recognizes this paradox.

Mission Accomplished for bin Laden?

OpEdNews.Com -- May 3, 2007
by Richard Mathis

"To defend us, Bush and the government would have had to help educate the public about propaganda and mass manipulation, and how people can think for themselves. Instead, the Bushites chose to propagandize and manipulate with abandon. Somehow I don’t see Dick Cheney and Fox News doing a special on critical thinking skills." --  Read the Full Article

Many Potential Padilla Jurors Unsure Who Caused 9/11

NewsBusters (Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias) -- May 3, 2007
by Mathew Sheffield

"Oftentimes, a journalist will defend his/her industry with the claim that people are not influenced by media. This is true for some things — things that a person has direct knowledge about — but not for other things such as the national economy, events in other countries, and many others. On these issues, a person trusts the media they follow. You think what your media diet is in other words ... the unfortunate thing about this is that there is a subset of media out there which is devoted to promoting ridiculous conspiracy theories ... A significant number of potential jurors in the Jose Padilla terrorism support case say they aren't sure who is responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, many because they don't trust the news media or U.S. government pronouncements ... The lack of critical thinking out there is simply astonishing." -- Read the Full Article

DePauw Science Student Credits Critical Thinking

Latest News (DePauw University) -- May 3, 2007

Greencastle, IN — "An article co-authored by Elizabeth Crouch, a 2004 graduate of DePauw University, is published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. Entitled 'Regulation of AID expression in the immune response,' the article details research Crouch conducted before beginning her work toward a M.D./Ph.D. degree in biomedical research through the prestigious NIH/Oxford/Cambridge Scholars Program ... The text 'focuses on the regulation of a protein that plays a key role in the immune system, but can also can cause cancer or autoimmune disease when things go awry,' reports Crouch. She adds, 'It's important to point out how much my DePauw education contributed to my work in this article and another I recently submitted: the science background, certainly, but also the critical thinking skills and the writing skills that I developed as an English literature minor.' -- Read the Full Article

Philosophy for Children

Voice of America -- May 3, 2007
by Faiza Elmasry

"Philosophy is a subject that usually makes its formal entry into a student's curriculum at the college level, though a growing number of high schools in the United States are offering some introduction-to-philosophy courses for college-bound students. But one educational expert is calling for introducing philosophy to young students in elementary school. She believes that philosophy is a powerful tool that helps to develop children's critical thinking and deepen their appreciation for life." -- Read the Full Article

Texas to Host National Mock Trial Competition

PRNewswire-USNewswire -- May 3, 2007

DALLAS — "The 24th Annual National High School Mock Trial Competition will bring 40 high school teams to Dallas from across the U.S. (plus South Korea and the Northern Mariana Islands on May 10- 12, as they argue a hypothetical court case. These teams, which have emerged as the best within their states, will be matched against one another in actual courtrooms, culminating in a championship round on Saturday evening at the newly restored Hatton Sumners Courtroom in the historic Old Red Courthouse ... The mock trial program was developed in the 1970s to teach high school students how the justice system works and how the law is applied in everyday life, while exposing them to critical thinking exercises and quick analysis through preparation and presentation. The first national championship was held in 1984." -- Read the Full Article

Inquiry or Indoctrination?

Inside Higher Ed -- May 3, 2007
by Elizabeth Redden

"Let’s face it: Comp 101 doesn’t tend to be the most controversial of courses. But at the University of California at San Diego, a campaign officially begun last month to alter a required freshman writing and social science curriculum has already claimed two casualties ... The graduate students charge that the year-long course sequence designed in the early 1990s to 'challenge hegemonic assumptions about race, class, gender and sexuality' has lost its coherence as the program has been watered down into 'a form of uncritical patriotic education that fails to interrogate the injustice integral to the founding of the U.S. and the current state of U.S. society.' A coalition of 15 to 20 graduate and undergraduate students presented a list of grievances and demands — including the development of a faculty and student advisory committee — to the administration late last month after what its leaders characterize as unsuccessful negotiations earlier in the academic year ... In turn, the program’s administrator says that he is resisting efforts 'to turn this into a program of political indoctrination' — while ensuring that the university maintains an atmosphere of collegiality ... Depending on whom you ask, the critics of the Dimensions of Culture program as it’s currently taught are either political ideologues who want to see their own ideals perpetuated, or students and scholars committed to maintaining the heritage of the college by challenging freshmen to critically examine everything they’ve ever understood about the world they live in." -- Read the Full Article

Students Celebrate Asian Heritage Month

The Brampton News -- May 3, 2007
by Pell District School Board

"Peel District School Board students from grade 5 to 12 will celebrate Asian Heritage Month at Pearson Convention Center on May 7, 2007. Activities will feature a visual presentation, interactive learning stations for junior students and critical thinking workshops for senior level students ... Grade 10 to 12 students will attend critical thinking workshops ... Through critical thinking activities, students will 'think small and big' while creating an action plan, about what students themselves can do to address these items within their schools and in their community." -- Read the Full Article

Parrots in the Classroom

The Jakarta Post -- May 3,2007
by Markus Budiraharjo

"Rachel Davies, in her article 'Traditional' education not that bad (The Jakarta Post, April 14, 2007), argues that traditional education in Indonesia is not "that bad". In her observation, Asian students, including those from Indonesia, perform very well in Australia. They can compete well in the Australian education system, and even outperform their Australian counterparts ... Rachel's conclusion about the success stories of Indonesian students in their overseas education reminds me of my similar experience when I attended a U.S. university. However, Rachel's conclusion that Indonesian students' success in their education is determined by the "traditional" education they received in Indonesia is difficult to agree with." -- Read the Full Article

Lessons in Money Management

Trinidad & Tobago's Newsday -- May 3, 2007

"The Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago’s (AFETT) 'Six Steps to Success' Business Skills Seminars continue on Saturday ... the presenter for the second step will be Camille Ramdial of Camilleon Consulting Ltd ... Ramdial holds a Diploma in Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, and certificates in the areas of leadership, critical thinking, and communication effectiveness from Roytec, UWI-IOB and Dale Carnegie International. She is currently pursuing her MBA with Edinburgh School of Business, Heriot-Watt University, and also recently attended the 25th International Conference on Critical Thinking held in Berkeley, California. This was organised by the Centre and Foundation for Critical Thinking which is the world’s premier organisation in the field of Critical Thinking." -- Read the Full Story

The Spirit of Inquiry is Willing

Concordia Journal -- May 3, 2007
by Barbara Black

"Vice-Provost (Academic Programs) Danielle Morin wanted to create a forum at Concordia where teaching and learning would be discussed and exciting experiences could be shared. She envisioned an in-house activity where some Concordia professors would get together to share their passion ... However, a call from McGraw-Hill Ryerson vice-president Joe Saundercook changed everything. In partnership with the publishing house, the project became a national conference ... The Spirit of Inquiry: Developing Critical Thinking, Creativity and Community is shaping up to be a winner. The national conference on teaching has attracted a record number of proposals ... The annual McGraw-Hill Ryerson conference on teaching and learning will be held at Concordia on May 14, 15 and 16. Rami El-Cheikh, Special Project Manager in the Office of Provost, says the call for presentations was so successful the organizers had to say Stop, that’s enough!" -- Read the Full Article

Art Museum Young Curators To Present Apokalypsis

ArtDaily.Org (The First Art Newspaper on the Net) -- May 3, 2007

Roanoak, VA — "The Art Museum of Western Virginia’s Young Curators are pleased to present Apokalypsis, an exhibition of thirteen works from the Art Museum’s permanent collection that will be on view at the Art Museum May 25 through August 12. Apokalypsis is the first exhibition organized by the Young Curators using works from the Art Museum’s permanent collection that will be installed in the Art Museum’s galleries, an honor that is rarely extended to most high school art programs across the nation ... The exhibition includes works by Betty Branch, Crash, Pierre Daura, Howard Finster, Birney Imes, Rick Prol, and Brian Sieveking ... The Young Curators program is a student led program with a strong peer mentoring component. It provides thirteen high school students from the Roanoke Valley with practical knowledge of and experience in the world of art and museums as they organize an art installation each year from concept to installation. Through the program, students learn all aspects of museum work, including fundraising, curating and art handling, as well as develop skills in business management, aesthetics, writing, critical thinking, and social studies." -- Read the Full Article

Evaluating 'No Child Left Behind'

The Nation -- May 2, 2007
by Linda Darling-Hammond

"There are hundreds of proposals for tweaking NCLB, but a substantial paradigm shift is required if our education system is to support powerful learning for all students ...  While continuing to report test scores by race and class, schools should be judged on whether students make progress on multiple measures of achievement, including those that assess higher-order thinking and understanding" ... -- Read the Full Araticle

Divine Intercession Doesn't Stand a Prayer

Arizona Daily Star -- May 2, 2007
by Dr. Gilbert Shapiro

"In 1988, President Reagan signed a bill into law that made the first Thursday of May a National Day of Prayer. Our government continues to ask its citizens to petition for divine intercession on behalf of America ... Humanist groups, such as the Center for Inquiry Community of Southern Arizona, take issue with this federally sponsored event that endorses and encourages intercessory prayer ... Sidestepping the questionable constitutionality of this divisive law, which promotes belief over nonbelief — a violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause — I would suggest that our government at least acknowledge that claims supporting the effectiveness of intercessory prayer have been invalidated through scientific testing in rigorously controlled Duke University (2005) and Harvard/Mayo (2006) studies." -- Read the Full Article

SDL to Launch Honors Program in 4 Middle Schools

LancasterOnline (Lancaster New Era) -- May 2, 2007

"Lancaster County, PA — The School District of Lancaster says it will implement an honors program at all four of its middle schools beginning in the fall ... Details of the classes will be worked out this summer after teachers have completed honors training ... The honors classes will be designed to foster students' critical-thinking, research and analysis skills ... Instead of relying mainly on tests and essays, teachers will assess students on oral and dramatic presentations, position papers, artwork, independent research and other unconventional assignments." -- Read the Full Article

Help Teachers to Develop Their Skills

Wales.Co.Uk (The National Website of Wales) -- May 2, 2007
by Paul Thomas

"As Wales enters a new era of Welsh Assembly governance, what need, if any, is there for change in education in Wales?... The processes of redesigning and rethinking are arguably the most rewarding parts of the job especially when these are rewarded with positive outcomes. Educational change comes about in two very different and often conflicting ways: educational policy and educational practice. The former is imposed, albeit through consultation and evidence-based research, and the latter comes from those whose practice informs improvement ... As we move into the era of a new Welsh Assembly Government, it is the latter upon which politicians should focus ... The shift is towards longevity based upon action research and critical thinking: what makes things better and how do you know? Following up the short course with work that critically reflects on the impact of the new practices learnt and then sharing that information with other colleagues is central in this development." -- Read the Full Article

CSUN Engineer Wins Fulbright for Vietnam Research

AScribe (The Public Interest Newswire) -- May 2, 2007

Northridge, CA — "But for his overwhelming desire to make a difference in the world, California State University, Northridge assistant mechanical engineering professor Nhut Ho might have found contentment amid the oil and fumes of an auto garage in his native Vietnam ... 'Had I stayed in Vietnam, I probably would not have gone to college,' said the hard-driving young director of CSUN's Ernie Schaeffer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. 'I'd be a car mechanic; I'd be fixing your car' ...  Instead, his love of auto mechanics fueled an even greater passion for engineering, which in turn propelled him toward an ambitious undertaking that has earned him a grant from the Fulbright Scholar Program, respected as the nation's flagship program in international educational exchange. Ho departs in spring 2008 for research in Vietnam ... In a nutshell, the professor proposes 'to help key stakeholders in Vietnam improve their educational process' ... Ho hopes to add 'substantial value' to initiatives already begun -- by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), the U.S.-funded Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) and the World Bank, among others -- to upgrade the country's engineering education infrastructure and to increase the effectiveness of teaching university undergraduates who are studying computer science, electrical engineering and physics ... Ho will spend a semester in engineering and education research, 'half quantitative and half qualitative,' interviewing university faculty, administrators and alumni to assess graduates' personal and interpersonal skills and language proficiency, as well as the level of their communication, teamwork, and critical thinking skills." -- Read the Full Article

Department Teaches More Than Just Language

Kansan.Com (The University Daily Kansan) -- May 1, 2007
by Kyle Carter

"The Center for Teaching Excellence awarded the Department of Spanish and Portuguese with the 2007 Departmental Award for Exceptional Teaching and Learning. The award recognizes one exceptional department each year with a $10,000 award ... The winner is selected based on the culture of learning within the department, evidence of student learning and constant evaluation of progress. Professor and chair of undergraduate studies Isidro Rivera said the department focused on teaching students to think critically rather than simply learning to memorize vocabulary and verb tenses ... 'We emphasize writing as a vehicle and as a tool for critical thinking,' he said." -- Read the Full Article

Charles Taylor and the Hegelian Eden Tree

VIVELECANADA -- May 1, 2007
by Susan Thompson

"The fact that the well-known Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, won the enviable Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries About Spiritual Realities in 2007 has been noted and noticed by many. There are few that have won this prestigious award, and fewer Canadians have taken the trophy home. Taylor did so, and did so in a way that has made many a Canadian proud of their native born boy. But, philosophy is about asking critical questions, and critical questions keep us from slipping into hagiography. Why did Taylor win the Templeton Prize, what questions need to be asked of Taylor, what intellectual agenda does he serve and are there other Canadians of equal worth and merit that might have won the Templeton Prize but did not?" -- Read the Full Article

Commonwealth Thinkers Win Big

Brockville Recorder & Times -- May 1, 2007
by Michael Jiggins, Staff Writer

"Wearing his Ottawa Senators jersey, John Kean's pride in his favourite NHL team is obvious ... But the Commonwealth Public School Grade 8 student is also pretty proud of his school, too ... That's why after some bad press regarding the school's provincial test performance, Kean said he and four other Commonwealth students were eager to do well at the Upper Canada District School Board's recent Think Bowl competition ... A past tradition in the board, the Think Bowl made a return this year and drew a total of 57 teams to competitions at Chimo and Tagwi Secondary School. The event challenges students to use critical thinking skills to solve a problem - in Commonwealth's case difficulties with the transition from Grade 8 to high school." -- Read the Full Article

Taking Early Aim at Lofty Goals

Las Cruses Sun News -- May 1, 2007
by Jason Gibbs

"Students are setting their sights on careers in science, engineering, math and aerospace technology. And they are getting a boost from two programs at Vista Middle School ... Officials from NASA are looking at the program as a model for other schools around the nation. One of the biggest attractions is a chance for elementary students to get to know the middle school environment and teachers to help them transition into the next school year. It also provides a chance for the middle school and elementary school teachers to collaborate on teaching methods ... The program is possible due to cooperation between NASA, the school and New Mexico State University. It also teaches students how to work together as a team and use critical-thinking skills to solve problems." -- Read the Full Article

The Normalization of Evil

Adirondack Daily Enterprise -- May 1, 2007
by George J. Bryjak

"We tend to think of social evolution — the movement from simple to complex societies — in terms of moral development. As societies become more “civilized,” they also become increasingly ethical and peaceful ... Within this context, genocides such as the Holocaust are viewed as aberrations, temporary regressions in the overall historical progression toward peace and prosperity ... In a brilliant reassessment of mass murder in the modern world, sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, a Polish Jew who escaped to Russia after the German invasion of his country, argues that the Holocaust was not a failure of modernity. Rather, it was a product of the modern nation-state. For Bauman, 'every ingredient of the Holocaust was within the realm of what is considered normal in western societies — these ingredients were just mixed in a unique combination' ... Routinization undermines critical thinking and the moral choices made as a consequence of that thinking." -- Read the Full Article