Recently there has been some nit-pickery over my use of the phrase “support the indoctrination of critical thinking” at the bottom of one of my toasts which had more to do with the blogging networks application on Facebook than that.
The last thing you should be doing is claiming to ‘indoctrinate’ people. Bad choice of words, bad choice of attitude.
Evolved Rationalist said:
Sigh. Some people don’t understand what the phrase ‘tongue-in-cheek’ means.
No, Evolved Rationalist, some people actually understand the power of language. And know what you’re up against when this casual attitude is seen as ‘the best approach’.
Yes. Language is a powerful thing. To help us understand that power we have dictionaries like my copy of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 9th edition which I am ever so fond of.
indoctrinate v.tr. 1 teach (a person or group) systematically for a long period to accept (esp. partisan or tendentious) ideas uncritically. 2 teach, instruct. indoctrination n. indoctrinator n. [IN- + DOCTRINE + -ATE]
Um, let me make that more concise. Teach to accept ideas uncritically.
So to indoctrinate critical thinking…
If you use words like ‘indoctrinate’ and then try to sell a concept to people who are resistant (e.g, people who are tending to be critical of skeptics or doubtful of what might be the value) – then you’re already starting off on the wrong foot.
Actually, I think that if they’re critical of uncriticalness they’re already on the right track to skepticism.
Especially the very dangerous approach of skepticism = atheism, when that is the last thing skepticism should be touted as. Want to have people who are of an agnostic or faith-based mindset to shut down even before they are considering supporting it? Want to have teachers see it as ‘more trouble than it’s worth’ when it takes the approach of alienating the majority of faithful despite the (uncertain) benefits it claims to have for critical thinking skills?
Then go ahead. Use words like ‘indoctrinate’. Fail to have a proper mission statement. Better yet, have no obvious educational links or educators attached to the project or site.
“Indoctrinate critical thinking” is not really the mission statement. Again, that wasn’t serious. And, judging by the definition of indoctrinate, it wouldn’t have made sense if I were serious. The mission is to encourage critical thinking and skepticism in teenage girls. I’m sure I could write something more eloquent and inspiring if I had the brain juice but that’s the gist of it.
Being just another minority-based website with opinions and views… nothing new. And ‘tongue-in-cheek’ isn’t something that wields much weight when you’re trying to explain to students and parents why they should check out a site or assert its authority (on what, exactly, by the way? Opinions of people on topics, with few to no relevant qualifications of the people, none education-based?).
Content is key, Evolved Rationalist. I look forward to evidence rather than more rah-rah advertising. In fact, a solid game plan with realistic ‘what is intended to be achieved’ would be better – than just ‘join for the popularity of joining sake’. If anything, that’s the most constructive criticism I can have of this rush to be popular amongst the already-skeptic-set. Start setting goals and designing the site as such. Start having some product for educators, with their input and understanding of the school systems, if that’s what they want to attract. Start figuring out what they really want to do for students and educators – rather than thinking that getting into schools is that easy. Why should this or other sites benefit? What have they most definitely have to offer?
So… yeah… us skeptics really love appeals to authority but I guess I see how we need that to draw people in. But… what authority would we have anyway? Teen Skepchick is just run by… teens. We don’t have any real authority on any subject so we rely on our reasoning and evidence. I can write posts using examples of how some logical fallacies are logical fallacies. For example, Edward Mitchell says there are aliens but Edward Mitchell could also say there are dancing pink unicorns on Neptune and that wouldn’t be true. If you want to know what the content of Teen Skepchick is, why not go take a look at it yourself? I’ve been linking to it the whole time.
In comparison to women’s magazines, popular books linking feminism to wiccan expressions, alternative cures, popular TV shows, which are resourced and funded to appear with glossy appeal and infinite social support groups. Where are the links to specific educational outcomes, exactly what classes will it suit – any idea of the curriculum strains to fit in content as it is? – and what range of ability will it better address in comparison to textbooks, documentaries and programs that either do the job better or, more challenging, ‘work for the other side’?
The idea, I suppose, is to be interesting. To have style. To be unique. To make it seem more pertinent to the day-to-day lives of teens. Who better to do it than us teens?
Because it’s going to take more than ‘hey, let’s indoctrinate! Tee hee hee!’. Is this really meant to be serious, or is this just more in-joke in-house fluffing about?
If you’re going to appeal to teens you can’t be serious all the time. Of course, I’m guilty of writing posts which are 1,619 words in length for Teen Skepchick, and had it been completely humourless that would have been enough to fry a teen’s brain like an egg on the surface of Venus. Again, I have written quite a bit of serious stuffz for Teen Skepchick if you go check it out, but seriousness 100% of the time is really really unappealing.
Personally, I’d be checking out the work of the National Center for Science Education in preference.
Yeah, I heart NCSE myself but do they really have a section which is just for teens? Or just for kids? Does it really have anything called “critical thinking 101” to teach people how to think?
Why did this need to turn into a whole spiel in defence of Teen Skepchick anyway?
On a much much lighter and cheerful note, Splendid Elles has just hit 200 toasts and is about to reach its 40,000th viewer!
If Skep doesn’t mind a bit of light-heartedness, I’d like to have a party. If he minds then we won’t have a party.
HA! Did you think I was actually going to let Skep keep me from having my frivolous moments?