On Thinking (or not.)

As Miriam and I discuss issues that have come up with our students, in and out of the classroom, a common theme has become blatantly apparent: they don't think.

This has nothing to do with intelligence.  They are smart; they all made it to college in China, which is no small feat, and they're all capable of speaking at least two languages, so.  I'm not saying that they are stupid.

And of course there are a few who are good at thinking deeply, who do question what they hear in the news and are interested in global events and initiate discussions and keep conversations going and keep us learning.  They're a rarity, though.  We notice and wonder at these students.

But.  In general.

They don't think.  We are constantly challenging them to go beyond answers they can find in a textbook and to talk about their own opinions.  And then to consider another side of the issue.  To think about real world issues (this week, problems that women face globally -- lack of access to education, social status, pornography and prostitution) -- about how they're implicated in these issues, about what responsibility they have, as educated members of a world power.

Last night, at our department (English Education)'s speech competition, one student had a topic dealing with the busyness that's a common feature of life in China, as it is in the US.  "I think being busy is good," the student said.  "I like being busy so I don't have time to think."

I didn't know if I should laugh or cry.

I don't have a great conclusion, because this really is an ongoing issue.  Please ask that our students would have open minds and hearts and be eager to engage.  Please ask that we'd have creativity as we create lesson plans and make space for conversations to happen and relationships to grow.


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