Finn, P. (2015) Critical Condition


Finn, P. (2015). Critical Condition: Replacing critical thinking with creativity. Wilfred Laurier University Press. Waterloo.

“…critical thinking does not lead to truth’ instead, it leads to stronger and stronger versions of what you want to believe.” (P. 19)

“Simply put, older models of computation were built like arguments from the traditions of critical thinking; newer models are more creative and dynamic and use less control.” (P.25)

“If language matters – and surely it does – then what does it mean that most of our information now comes to us through open, active systems that grow organically?” (P. 25)

“Globalization. … Can we imagine a successful exchange based on a model where someone is a winner and another is a loser? Should we not instead be moving to a more open, contributory, and hospitable means of engagement?” (P.26)

“The response to multiple voices is to educate ourselves – to dive into information, and to speak to one another directly and openly.” (P. 26)

“Critical thinking trains you to be suspicious of every assertion – to cut it up, evaluate it, test it, and then respond. Loving thinking calls for us to begin by giving the other the benefit of the doubt. You begin with open arms, not with scalpel in hand.” (P. 26)

“A web emphasizes strength through intricate, complex inter connectedness.” (P. 26)

“…when we apply a model of intellectual engagement based on attack and parry, we are initiating a process that drains our brains of blood just at the time we most need to be able to think. To think most clearly, we need to feel safe.” (P. 27)

“As a consequence, we are being bombarded with messages about things we should fear in order to make us behave in ways that please our masters.” (P. 27)

“Our world has changed in myriad ways, yet our operating system for engaging with it has not.” (P. 27)

“But before we pass judgement on people who delude themselves with friends and facts that support ideas they already hold, we should recognize that when we speak about these people we are speaking about ourselves.” (P. 42)

“Creativity encourages new ideas; criticism stops them cold. If we were trained not to attach ourselves to ideas, but instead to be constantly adapting to new ones, then no new idea could ever threaten us in such a fundamental way.” (P. 43)

“We have commoditized thought so strongly that our very lives are at stake when someone offers a better way to explain the world.” (P. 43)

“We should grow the grass rather than attack the weeds.” (P. 44)

“What we can offer is education in the present – in a room with real people having a discussion rooted in the moment. The Information Age has removed barriers to information that have been in place in every other age – including those periods that designed and modified university education. Students no longer need someone to stand at the front of the room and deliver data. Rote lectures are quite simply an inferior delivery mechanism; however, engaged work done live in a room with teachers and students will always be a primary method of intellectual engagement.” (P. 59)

“…as long as the ideas are fresh, creative and engaging, students will be hungry for them.” (P. 59)

“To be popular is not to be an entertainer – to be popular is to be a person of vision who connects with students.” (P. 59)

“…we are all now being evaluated online as well as on campus. Like it or not, the discussion about our work is live.” (P. 60)

“When we look for areas of dynamism in the university, we find them where faculty members connect to their communities; in business leaders who lecture and work, engineers who build and teach, doctors who heal and research, writers who publish and mentor.” (P. 61)

“Creativity thrives in an environment of open access to information, and we live at the time of the greatest opening in history.” (P. 61)

“…you need to do things that matter, and you need to be socially connected.” (P. 62)

“In a society that trains all of its students in critical thinking, we groom ourselves to accept incessant complaining as acceptable and even intelligent behaviour. But what if what complainers are doing, rather than witty, informed social commentary, is corrosive? What if it not only harms our ability to work but also damages the workplace as a whole? Pearson and Porath’s research demonstrates that continual criticism actually harms all those who witness it. How would your workday change if these people in your organizations felt integrated, productive, and committed to a meaningful goal?” (P. 98)

“There is nothing wrong with healthy competition, but we should be aware that every aspect of our university works to separate people out and then keep them in line within their own little worlds.” (P. 98)

“As a result, students show up on campus ready to be accountants, lawyers and engineers rather than explorers and inventors.” (P. 98)

“A surprising number of our most creative minds find ways to pursue their own path through education.” (P. 100) (but is that cause of effect of creativity? Would a less creative mind thrive with self-directed paths?)

“To be educated at the university was to engage with the whole – the whole being, the whole body of language, and the whole of society. We have broken apart; we are fragmented, alone, and fearful. We need to reunite our family and ourselves by emphasizing a program of work that is open, creative, and loving. We need universal education for the digital, global, twenty-first century.” (P. 102)

“A grandmother was speaking to her young granddaughter. She told the story of the two wolves that live inside us all. The two wolves are constantly in battle to be the one who will dominate our lives. The one wolf is driven by fear, hatred, and violence. The other is governed by love and compassion. The young granddaughter asked, ‘Which wolf will win?’ The grandmother replied ‘The one you feed.'” (p. 103)

“Critical thinking allows us to pretend we are separate and objective. It makes us superior. We sit in judgement rather than joining the people. Creative work is a social and compassionate practice.” (P. 106) (implications for content vs. Community /activity focus in courses?)

“For those who work on creativity and the arts, the proclivity of some people to equate the casual with the creative is a source of great frustration. These people are using creative thinking to get away with a type of mental laziness that critical thinking uproots. In my experience, this is not the case with genuine creative work, because artists and audiences vet it so ruthlessly; but around the edges there is always the potential to call something creative that is merely half-formed. The conflation of the casual and the creative will necessarily be of utmost importance in any move toward increased creative work in the university. Recall our definition: to be creative is to create something new that has value. Lazy work does not meet that standard.” (P. 107) (cf. DS106 and animated gifs as trivial acts of creativity – perhaps the value isn’t in the created artifact, but in the act of creation?)