I critically think therefore I’m confused

I am hopeless with choices. Unless I actually know what I want, being faced with new choices I find difficult. I often watch people in shops, seemingly flicking back and forth over some decision to buy or not buy with envy. I just want to get in and out, I don’t really want to be given more choices. Even filling up with fuel is traumatic – fly buys, shopper voucher, happy clapper discounts, cheque, savings or credit? – want a receipt? – Would you like a 2 for 1 Mars Bar ‘deal’ … No! I just need fuel!

People can become paralysed by too much variety and wracked with uncertainty and regret about whether they have made the right decision. Unless Western society befalls some ‘cyberpunk’ dystopia (which is possible) – the future will involve more information, more technology and more choice – educating anyone for the next 5 years is much harder than in the last 500.

Kitayama et al (2004) say this can be “Personally costly” and leads to stress, uncertainly and difficulty of the individual (used to systemic support and social-rules) being able to resolve whether or not they made, make or will make ‘good’ choices. They discuss ideas of personal verses interpersonal decision making; which leads me to think about the rise in recent discussions online about ‘critical thinking’. – in a world pre-Facebook and Twitter -before 700 million being stated making daily choices about what to serve in their unreal cyber-cafe – before more people played games on FB thank have created Twitter accounts.

For ‘net’ enabled sections of society this is increasingly personal-critical and increasingly global. We see discussions of what school should be, could me, might be, won’t be etc., and perhaps the easy, frequency and interpersonal relationships in micro-blogs feel fresh and vibrant. Choices now include – do I follow or unfollow; do I RT it or let it slide; if someone’s RT’d it – should I re re RT it – who RTd it? are they ‘better’ than me … do I store it away in my bookmarks? Do I look now or later? … will I ever get enough time to deal with what is really important?

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) – ‘The OECD Schooling Scenarios in Brief’ – as they present some future scenarios for school. They group these as Attempting to Maintain the Status Quo”, “Re-schooling”, “De-schooling”.

Dissatisfaction with institutionalised provision and expression given to diversified demand leads to the abandonment of schools in favour of a multitude of learning networks, quickened by the extensive possibilities of powerful, inexpensive ICT. The de-institutionalisation, even dismantling, of school systems as part of the emerging “network society”. – De-Schooling Scenario.

Psychologically we are scared to death of making ‘big’ choices much of the time – even in the petrol station – let alone Moodle or Blackboard.

They weigh so much on our minds that we stand transfixed by the possible and mortified by the possibility of  failure. Barry Schwartz talked at TED about  how with the enormous choice options we have; we are more dissatisfied than ever.

Piaget suggested that when children are in situated learning and presented with meaningful tasks that it promotes a sense of cognitive ambiguity. They like to resolve the problems.

“I think critically, therefore I am” according to the Times is now the new cornerstone of learning.

When all is said and done, however highly we may rate our educational programmes, schools, colleges, universities and, yes, even our own classes, students are not developing the intellectual skills and character traits they need to survive in an increasingly complex world.

If we are unable to choose; unable to resolve and unable to critically literate in networks; use technology at the very instance we feel the need to tap into the metaverse –  maybe we should turn off the hosepipe and focus on teaching critical thinking – and in doing so, what we are using technology for.

If we are going to lock up, shut down, filter or silence anyone … I choose marketing – which mainlines purile choice and toxic materialism so skillfully, we don’t even notice. We have to re-think learning activities – and their taxonomies – to do it.

The choices we have to make are real; the choices that people perceive they have to make – everyday – are often as unreal as Cameron’s Avatar; but we perceive them to be – and at times I think we want them to be really important.

I wonder which of the OECD scenario offerings you see as being your current reality – and which you might prefer. It is only by thinking of more than one that we can begin to find the gaps – as it is in the gap that we find the most choice and therefore the most change.


2 thoughts on “I critically think therefore I’m confused

  1. “Will I ever get enough time to deal with what is really important?”

    I think this question is at the heart of what we’re all going through; and likely what all of our ancestors went through. Having ‘too much’ time, after all — sitting in those damp dimly lit abbeys of the Middle Ages — isn’t really ‘enough time’ either, is it?

    In the end, when it comes down to choices, there’s only one really important one: keep going or not keep going (Beckett, Camus, et al were more eloquent). Picking out a pair of jeans, or choosing a movie to see, or deciding on a school district — that ain’t making a choice; that’s accepting one’s spot at the end of a chain of distribution.


  2. Thanks, this is sending me into a reflective mode in regards to my own practice and how successful I am (I think not very), and then what steps I need to take to develop critical thinking and more important validated decision making in my learning environments. This process would certainly contribute to the learning environments I aim to develop and implement.

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