Learning how to think doesn’t have to wait until university

At Quest University Canada, they have a lot of good ideas. Small classes, integration of the disciplines, teach how to think rather than what to think, celebrate collaboration. And rather than worry about athletics, and research, urban renewal, economic growth, product development and etc, Quest only teaches.

But, as good an idea as this is, why are we waiting until people have gone through 13 years of ‘schooling’ before learning how to think? The ideas of Quest, ought to be incorporated into the earlier years of school, so that by 17, people can focus on their interests, rather than finally having the opportunity to learn how to think.

David Helfand, Founding Tutor and, since 2008, as President and Vice Chancellor of Quest University Canada (also former Chair of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Columbia University):

“Rather than the multiplicity of goals other universities take on, we have one goal: to educate undergraduates, to open up and lead forth their minds…”

The point of all the courses is “not to pour knowledge from the full vessel to the empty vessel, not to gain a set of facts which you can find easily with Google, but it is to show by example how a mathematician asks questions about the world and goes a bout trying to answer them, and how a philosopher does that, and how a poet does that, and how a physicist does that. So they can accumulate those tools and apply them to their unique interests…

“Since we don’t do engage in this demonstrably ineffective mode of communication called lecturing, we don’t ‘profess’, so we don’t call ourselves professors. We actually teach, so we call ourselves tutors. And we build into the classroom the kind of environment for which our brains have evolved, which is two-way communication. So we have no lecture hall on the campus at all, every classroom in an oval seminar table…

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