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Has critical thinking gone missing?

['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']
['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']

Perspectives with Shirley Hallee

It has a few years since I became a retired teacher. I taught in public school systems and at university level in the United States and in Canada. My training occurred in the states...bachelor's level at the University of Minnesota and Master's level at the University of Wisconsin. While at those schools, a portion of my course work was in Educational Psychology. With that study, and with other courses, I understood that my job was not only to teach the curriculum...but I was to move students to High Level Problem solving and maybe even into Creative Thought Process.

Above all, students were to eventually become critical thinkers. Their thought process was to be clear, open-minded, and informed by evidence...based on logic and reason. My father, a farmer, would have referred to critical thinking as “horse sense.” Non-farmers might call critical thinking common sense. In the past 2 or 3 years I have become of aware that within certain populations in U.S., critical thinking might be non-existent. Somehow Donald Trump managed to make his way into the White House. Proof that critical thinking is still lacking in some folks lies in the fact he has maintained a base that supports him. His behaviours have become more and more outrageous; yet their are those who do not question those behaviours.

We are aware that a mostly Democratic Congress has now formally admonished Trump for his bigoted and racist behaviours and statements. He shows no respect for those attempting to enter the U.S. at the Mexican border. Huge numbers of adults and children are essentially locked up. The conditions are such that some are dying. Then he stated that the four young women of colour who recently won seats in Congress should go back to the countries they came from. It seems Trump didn't quite understand that three of the four women actually were born in the U.S.

The thing that has me wondering about the critical thinking capabilities of some individuals is that there are now people who chant, “Send her back,” at Trump rallies. At least a few of those folks must be aware that there is no country for three of women to return to...and the fourth woman has been a U.S. citizen for years. She also has intelligence and capability to have been elected into Congress. It would also seem that some do not have enough thinking ability to understand all are created equal as stated in the Declaration of Independence, and further noted in various amendments in the Constitution.

What further makes me question availability of critical thinking is that there are Republicans in Congress and in the Senate who do not see Trump's behaviour as racist. These are people who should be well aware of the law of that land.

Then there are the people who think Trump is a racist, a misogynist, and amoral...but see him as a great businessman. Supposedly, that is his saving grace. I do not see his “wealth” as proof of his business ability. Rather, I look at his 4 bankruptcies...with others left holding the bag...as an indication of his ability to con others. It was his corporations that filed Chapter 11...leaving Trump with money in his pocket. Trump stating he is a great businessman simply because he has financially benefited while others have gone under...due to his willingness to use Chapter 11...is not proof of his business skills.

I am concerned about the lack stability in the U.S. economy, and the potential impact on this country. The national debt in the U.S. went up a trillion dollars in just a little over 6 months this year. Rather than lowering that debt Trump has increased it...big time. The wealthy corporations are now the beneficiaries of Trump's tax break; and there is an even wider gap between the rich and all others. The gross national debt now stands at 106.4% of the GDP. I am trying to use my critical thinking here; and to my thinking, that bit of information indicates a lack of economic balance and stability. Scary!

Shirley Hallee is a freelance writer living in Amherst. Her column appears weekly in the Amherst News.

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