Källkritik

I’ve argued before that one way of tackling not only ‘fake news’, but also the other sorts of blatantly nonsensical thinking one finds in popular political discourse today, is to teach critical thinking, explicitly, in schools: https://bernardjporter.com/2016/10/23/logic-lessons/. Now Kajsa tells me that something like this was incorporated into the Swedish national school curriculum in 2011, under the name of Källkritikkäll meaning ‘source’ – in order to encourage pupils always to go to the sources of statements or claims before accepting them uncritically.

I imagine there might be philosophical objections to this, along the lines of ‘What is truth?’; but at a relatively simple and straightforward level this would seem a good idea for Britain too, and even for the USA.

For anyone fluent in Swedish (as I’m not, I’m ashamed to say), Kajsa’s given me the following references (or källor): http://skolvarlden.se/artiklar/sa-ska-elever-lara-sig-att-granska-kallor, and https://www.skolverket.se/skolutveckling/resurser-for-larande/kollakallan/lektionsmaterial.

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3 Responses to Källkritik

  1. eric says:

    There’s a tradition of source-criticism in Nordic/German education systems. An emeritus history fellow at my college, German by birth, told me about his efforts to introduce Quellenkritik/-forschung into the graduate programme when he came to Oxford in the 60s; all that Oxford students ‘could do was to write nice essays’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “One solution, however, might be to teach Logic in schools. It’s not a difficult subject …… I’ve never heard of any school in Britain, the USA or Australia – which mark the limits of my rather thin acquaintance with school pedagogy – that has ‘Logic’ expressly on its syllabus. Why not? It could be the most valuable education of all.”

    I agree it is an excellent idea. However, it is not so easy to teach: the students who can do it are those generally who least need it, whilst those who struggle to ‘get it’ are those most in need. One of the problems is the poverty and scarcity of suitable resources. If one relies on one’s own efforts as a teacher, – virtually writing all the material for the course – it becomes very labour intensive.

    When I studied year 12 English in Melbourne in the late 1960s, one component of the course was called Clear Thinking, which incorporated some of the very basic elements of logic. It was replaced by a unit that approximated in a vague sort of way what the Greeks might have called Rhetoric, which takes as its subject the strategies writers, speakers and propagandists use to persuade or position their readers. While Clear Thinking presumed that Truth could be discovered through logical thinking, neo-Rhetoric assumes that all we could do – since finding the Truth was no longer on the agenda – was sort out the range of devices authors use to give us the impression that they had discovered Truth.

    The construction of a suitable Logic text for schools, is something you, Bernard, and your elves could work towards after your present book is completed. However, those who could do it, like yourself, will always have their reasons why they won’t.

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    • A good one for my part, I think, is that I’m not a pedagogue, have no philosophical training, and don’t have any experience of teaching younger students. In other words, I don’t know the material I’d need to work on, in order to make a difference.
      Maybe I could write a little thing on ‘fake history’ that addresses it. I’ll give it some thought. Many thanks for the suggestion, and for your input.

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