Thumbs up for new critical thinking course

An innovative course developed at IGS is deeply engaging High School students in critical questioning of world events and how they are portrayed.

The course, Critical Thinking for the 21st Century, created by Dr Bruce Dennett for IGS students in Years 9 and 10, has drawn positive comments from staff, parents and students alike.

“Feedback from parents at Parent Teacher interviews was consistently positive,” Dr Dennett said.

“Parents say they have noticed a difference in their kids, who are having interesting conversations, asking interesting questions and challenging them at the dinner table, pointing out faulty logic, for example.

“Anecdotally, some of my teaching colleagues have said they can identify which of their students are taking this class, saying they are quite switched on.”

Classes have explored the 12 most common informal logical fallacies using real-word examples, such as issues related to terrorism and censorship, conservativism, fake news and Black Lives Matter.

“It’s not purely theoretical. It’s real. Events are dictating where we go.”

Dr Dennett said he felt the course had been enhanced by the advent of COVID-19 restrictions, as Zoom technology allowed him to explore issues in depth with one, two or three students at a time, whether they were part of the IGS Off-Campus Learning Program or back at school. 

Dr Dennetts is conducting a two-year longitudinal study on the effectiveness of the course.

In the meantime, student Ruby Dragicevic said she enjoys how interactive and exciting the classes are.

“I really like discussing moral dilemmas in the class, as well as analysing sources for fallacies and fake news,” Ruby said.

“I definitely think this class will help me be more observant and help me to question what people say more, rather than just believe instantly. It also seems like it would help me formulate strong and logical arguments about certain topics.

“I think this course has helped me to become more curious about the things I’m taught in class. Now, I’m usually not alright with a simple answer and would prefer the answer to a question to be complex, if it serves a better purpose.

Ruby said she hadn’t realised how interesting and challenging the course would be, and that she would “definitely” recommend the course to other students.

“It is interesting, fun and probably my favourite class this year.”

Fellow student Jake Hardiman said he enjoyed having philosophical and moral debates in class.

“It’s very interesting and keeps me really engaged in class,” Jake said, adding that the course has taught him to question the credibility of information he has been given and to avoid “jumping on the bandwagon without suitable reasoning”.

“It teaches me how to think about my other studies in more depth and therefore allows me to be more insightful and intelligent with the work I present.”

Jake said he would definitely recommend the course to other students.

“Being able to think about situations and decisions critically is a very important skill for life.”