As heated debate continues not just in my state of Wisconsin, but across the United States on whether unions are great or not, I find myself intensely affected by how the debate is performed. The debate it seems has not become so much about discussing ones points but rather how to viscously take a dig at ones opponent in order to belittle them. Even the governor takes part in this as he continues to criticize and demonize the 14 democratic senators that fled the state. I have been on the receiving end of this as well and have therefore limited my real life dicussions as well as my online ones. And yet, those actively participating in the belittling seem to genuinely think that their methods for discussion is spurring healthy critical thinking and debate rather than seeing it for what it is; simply being critical.
Being critical is much easier than being engaged in critical thinking. Rather than debate anyone using facts or statistics, one can just dismiss the opposing opponent as being a communist or a thug. Rather than educate oneself on the actual issues at hand, one can just repeat the rhetoric being presented by whichever side. Being critical simply saves time, brain power, and energy. Why debate when one can simply destroy?
It is time for critical thinking to be used again. Education and then disseminating the information is a method for moving forward in any situation, whether it be political or not. How are we supposed to build a stronger society when all we do is tear each other down? This applies in every aspect of my life. Think of the regular education discussion with colleagues; are we thinking critical thoughts or are we using critical thinking skills? There is a massive difference. Are we open to new ideas, or do we dismiss them immediately? If we shut ourselves out simply because we do not like the person who is delivering the message, or prior experiences we have had with something similar, then we are not being reformers.
It is time to put the thinking back in critical thinking.
10 thoughts on “Are You Just Being Critical?”
Excellent article. It's disheartening to see people start using the word "war" to discuss this situation, when clearly only engagement will lead to a successful long-term solution that wins hearts and minds. I blogged about this idea a couple of days ago too.
I applaud you for asking adults in our society to demand better of themselves and to use rational thinking as opposed to emotion. I am in complete agreement that there are individuals on BOTH sides of the debate who are taking party in petty tactics. However, I find one contradiction in your post. I believe Gov. Walker would agree with you that critical thinking is key and this is the reason why he is speaking out against the congressmen who have fled the state. It seems you support this irresponsible action of the congressmen. Please explain to me how fleeing and avoiding the democratic process is critical thinking? I would ask you this, would you have supported republicans fleeing D.C. when the vote on the health care legislation was taking place? They stayed and debated on the issue because they believed in the democratic process. The congressmen in WI are avoiding the process and shame on them and anyone who supports what they did.
I do think that what the senators did was drastic but also a necessary event to bring time for this bill. There was no debate to be had over this, as evidenced by the treatment of the democratic leaders in the assembly. So I guess shame on me.
Mrs.Ripp, Madison is my home town and watching the events of the past few weeks unfold has been distrubing. Thank you for continuing to use your voice in a thought provoking way! I am shocked by the "teacher bashing"and it is disheartening, but come Monday morning,the people I care most about in a broken down portable in the back of the school still think I'm pretty cool. I have a feeling you know what I mean. Hang in there, you are valued!@teachjane
@Jane – Are you saying your class is held in a broken down portable (trailer) behind the school?
Critical thinking is key, and it can and often does take some time, thus I applaud the 14 who left the state. Remember, this bill has a number of other issues in it, far beyond the union issue, many of which will also have irreversible consequences. Also consider the intent was to have this bill passed in short order… likely in hopes that the public would be unaware. At least the fed healthcare issues were debated for a better part of a year, albeit the final bill was jammed through far too fast.
Sending you support and solidarity from your teacher brothers and sister in New Zealand. Teacher unions around the world are fighting the fight for high quality public education for all.Kia Kaha which means "Be strong and fearless" in Maori
PLease note, time was of the essence, the Repulican Assembly did not notify the Democrats there was to be a vote until 3 minutes before, and then started without them. It was a planned railroad attempt which has now been slowed down. YES it may still pass but not before people had time to read and testify. YES Shame on me for using my right to testify which was only available because my Senators left the state to delay the process. YES shame on the assembly democrats for proposing amendments to SB 11 this past week and DEBATING them. And Shame on the legislators, media, and SB11 supportors who believe it is the ONLY way to balance a budget.
I support you and wanted to share something I found when doing my "research." I just retired after teaching for 43 years. I've had an amazing career and have taught some incredible students but all the educational reform and testing has taken away the joy of teaching for me. Legislators and some in the public think they know more about how to do it right than I do. I wonder if they do that to their doctors or do they treat them as professionals who have earned a degree or two and actually know more than their patients. Are WisconsinPublic EmployeesOver-Compensated?B y J e f f r e y H . K ee f ehttp://epi.3cdn.net/9e237c56096a8e4904_rkm6b9hn1.pdf
I couldn't have said it better myself. I feel like so much of this debate has turned into slinging hate. What happened to communication, public discourse, or just simple active listening? Facts and numbers are pretty, but as always subject to interpretation and faulty gathering techniques. They also convince few who are already entrenched in an opinion. Information is nice to use, but it doesn't mean we should throw dialogue out the window.Good luck getting through this.