As students were returning from their vacation a week Wednesday, teachers were in the lecture theatre listening to an informative and entertaining talk by Ron Neufeld, our resident expert in the field of critical thinking. Ron has been teaching a course called Science and Ethics, an elective mainly for Grade 10s, for over 10 years. In the course he introduces students to the elements of argument, logic, rhetoric and a variety of fallacies that are commonly employed by commercial or political persuaders. He gave us a brief but fascinating overview of the course with anecdotes and examples he has accrued over the years.
The text he uses is a university level book and, not surprisingly, the elective, with its emphasis on controversial topics and lively discussion, attracts some of our most promising students. It also complements the art of debating and public speaking, since it draws on all of the elements from sound, thorough research, to creative thinking, to effective oratory. To emphasise that point and to give us a taste of how engaging debate can be, teachers were then given a topic to debate in house-based teams. The result was both lively and instructive. Debate teachers Neil Bryant and Rachel Steele-McInnis presided and gave us a primer on how to inject elements of debate into our classes.
The morning’s Pro D brought home the importance of bringing critical thinking into all aspects of our curriculum and graduating students with the wherewithal to lead a collaborative process that examines an issue through the lens of sound judgment and open-mindedness. This will continue to be our focus as a faculty this year and one which will, no doubt, enrich our students at all levels.
Mr. David McCarthy, Director of Studies