The Lack of Critical Thinking in Philippine Schools

Manila Bulletin, November 28, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Lack of Critical Thinking in Philippine Schools


THE ELUSIVENESS OF CRITICAL THINKING

Critical thinking is one of the favorite terms peddled by our national curriculum. It is as if it is a newfound truth on how the educational system could rise from decades of slide.

Every so often, critical thinking is raised as a reform goal. Yet, it is the 1991-1999 Education for All Philippine Plan of Action that underlined the modern need for critical thinking to address the ills of the Philippine educational system.

In truth, the problem of lack of critical thinking among Filipino students goes way back, from Spanish colonial times, to the time of the Thomasites during the American occupation, to the post-war Philippines before, during and after martial law. This problem persists up to now.

THE ELUSIVENESS OF CRITICAL THINKING

ritical thinking is one of the favorite terms peddled by our national curriculum. It is as if it is a newfound truth on how the educational system could rise from decades of slide.

Every so often, critical thinking is raised as a reform goal. Yet, it is the 1991-1999 Education for All Philippine Plan of Action that underlined the modern need for critical thinking to address the ills of the Philippine educational system.

In truth, the problem of lack of critical thinking among Filipino students goes way back, from Spanish colonial times, to the time of the Thomasites during the American occupation, to the post-war Philippines before, during and after martial law. This problem persists up to now.

THE IRONY OF LACK OF CRITICAL THINKING

This general lack of critical thinking in the whole educational system is best exemplified by the pedagogy of schools leaning towards rote memorization. This is also exhibited by students preferring memory work over problems that demand the use of reasoning.

The idea of critical thinking is as old as philosophy itself. It should make us wonder why critical thinking has not taken root in our educational system despite the critical thinking philosophy with which we should be so familiar. The Philippines supposedly has a westernized educational system informed by western philosophy. It embraced this system as a result of its colonial experience.

CRITICAL THINKING FROM SOCRATES TO THE RENAISSANCE

Critical thinking as a way of grasping truth was handed to us by Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher who taught teachers how to probe students about what they don't know as well as the contradictions in their held beliefs. Plato and Aristotle later emphasized the need for systematic thinking that looks beyond the surface.

The tradition of critical thinking continued with Aquinas during the Middle Ages, applying the test of critical thought in defending traditional church ideas. During the Renaissance, Machiavelli critiqued the politics of Italy, thereby establishing the foundation of modern political critical thought. Bacon, likewise, contributed ideas in developing the concept of the scientific method that remains very strong up to now. Descartes, meanwhile, focused on the need to discipline the mind by favoring clear and precise assumptions in thinking. Moore did his part by emphasizing the need to analyze and critique parts of social systems.

CRITICAL THINKING FROM LOCKE TO PIAGET

The Age of Reason contributed ideas on thinking. Locke explored the limits of human understanding, eventually developing that knowledge is constructed using our senses. Hobbes also contributed to the discourse by developing the idea of a social contract, where the tie between the government and the governed is not the sort that comes from a divine right or myth but the rational consent given by the people.

Newton furthered the logic against an earth-centric model of the universe by arguing in favor of knowledge from evidence and reasoning. Nineteenth century thought continued the exploration on critical thinking with Marx, rejecting the idealist conception of history in favor of a materialist one. …

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