Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thoughts on Chap.5-7

About a year ago when I wrote a draft of literature review and asked my advisor for suggestions, he replied, "You can't make others' work all sound so useless - actually they are not - and meanwhile overestimate your own contributions." Stubbornness and arrogance turn many new researchers like me into a so-called "weak" sense critical thinker. But only since I read Paul's definition and classification of strong/weak sense thinking that I realize how necessary and valuable to become a strong one.

But I don't agree with McPeck about critical thinking cannot be taught in some general way. In my opinion, some critical thinking was born in an abstract level which should be taught in more general way and applied to more disciplines.

I love the way how Noddings stated the importance but hopelessness to seek for certainty, and how observation is sometimes not reliable and immediately becomes 'past-tense'. This argument coincides and reinforces the perspectives from Postmodernism we learned last time - we must compromise and step back to admit 'local truth'. I am also interested in coherence theories because there are a lot of conscious or unconscious 'event' in history being revised incorrectly in this way.

I can't image how fierce the debate between quantitative and qualitative research was then. Nor do I agree that they are incommensurable. The analogy of rational and irrational numbers does not reflect the same relation between quantitative and qualitative researches. They may use completely different approach, and base on their own theories, but there must be a certain point where they are connected and share the commons. For example, how can we draw the conclusion of "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."? We must start with an opening question: what keeps the doctor away? We may question those healthy elders and analyze their life styles. Hopefully, this qualitative research will eventually uncover that it is eating apple that keeps the doctor away. But how many apples should one eat? What kind of illness may apple be a precaution? Those are questions for quantitative research. Instead of debate, researchers from both parties should strengthen collaborations.


Robin said...

ah...paradox raises it's head again!

it's good to remember that there is a history in all of this - in many ways earlier ideas anchored a set of critiques which evolved into later ideas. the paradox is that many of the ideas we so easily critique have value in and of themselves - the trick is honor where these perspectives come from and engage them in a deep conversation. the example i have in my head is the relationship between behaviorism, cognition, and situated cognition. neither alone "explains" how we think and learn - and neither can really be ignored. they are clearly connected but the connection itself can be difficult to get at or understand. when you add in brain research it just gets worse (how do you take research on 1 year olds and relate to how a teenager's brain works?)... :)