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Tag: thinking

Wishful Thinking

Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind Dilbert, is also a very prolific blogger. And like the comic strip, he manages to write a good post about 50% percent of the time. Which is probably a much better success rate than I hit in this little rantfest.

Anyway, his first draft of A Voter’s Guide to Thinking is one entry on the plus side. Here are three of my favorite items from his list.

1. If you are comparing Plan A to Plan B, you might be doing a good job of thinking. But if you are comparing Plan A to an imaginary situation in which there are no tradeoffs in life, you are not thinking.

2. If you see quotes taken out of context, and you form an opinion anyway, that’s probably not thinking. If you believe you need no further context because there is only one imaginable explanation for the meaning of the quotes, you might have a poor imagination. Sometimes a poor imagination feels a lot like knowledge, but it’s closer to the opposite.

8. If your opinion is based on your innate ability to predict the future, you might be employing more magical thinking than reason. The exceptions would be the people who use data to predict the future, such as Nate Silver. That stuff is credible albeit imperfect by nature. Your imagination is less reliable.

I might add one other item to Adams’ list: If your source of information about the world is limited to one media channel, and your friends and family who are also limited to the same channel, you are not thinking. You’re in a cult.

Now if we can just get more than 50% of voters to do any thinking at all before they choose a candidate…

I know, wishful thinking.

Changing Your Mind

Jeff Bezos, someone often used as an example of an innovative entrepreneur1 believes that people who often change their mind are pretty smart.

He’s observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.

So how does Bezos’ view of real-world problem solving fit into the artificial, single-right-answer, one-size-fits-all approach to learning we use in most American schools?

Just askin’.

Thinking All Wrong About Digital

Consider this pull quote from an article titled Are We Thinking About Digital All Wrong?:

I strongly believe that describing digital as a tool diminishes its profound impact on the world we live in. Digital has transformed society, government, culture, business, media and more.2 Barely an aspect of our lives has not been touched in some way. Therefore, when I write about forming a digital strategy, I am not referring to a strategy for using a tool. I am talking about forming a strategy to adapt to the fundamental changes that digital has brought upon society.

The writer is addressing a business audience (specifically web designers) but I think that paragraph pretty much explains why all the technology we’ve poured into classrooms over the past two decades or more has had so little impact on American education.

Too many educators2 still discuss “digital” as a nice-to-have add-on, grafted onto what we’re already doing (as in “digital” learning, for example), rather than adapting the tools to fundamentally change what we do.

And until we decide to make that change, a large percentage of the money schools spend on digital will continue to be wasted.

Changing Your Mind is Smart

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, is one of those very successful innovators we hold up as examples to our future leaders. He has certainly made mistakes but is also right a lot of the time.

And Bezos has noticed something about other people who make the right decisions most of the time: they are “people who often changed their minds”.

He’s observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.

So where do those “smartest people” learn those skills? It’s not what we do in school.

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