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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

       Monday, October 25 2004 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Learning how to think, continued

I've already used several synonyms for "theoretical thinking": analytical thinking, critical thinking, scientific thinking, reflective thinking, mature thinking. That process or way of thinking could begin with or also could be called, "active" rather than passive thinking. Continuing to build on the illustrations from the week before last about how to think about movies so we get more out of the ones that seem to be "about nothing," active thinking may hold the key. We grow up watching television and other entertainment events like movies and sporting events passively. We allow the action on the screen or the field to determine our reactions; they bombard us and we just take it. Later we may digest it or discuss it with friends, or not. Maybe the "entertainment" of the time we're bombarded seems enough...been there, done that. We probably even think at that stage of life that it's more fun that way. Go in with few expectations, let yourself be surprised. Never read a "review" before seeing a movie because that might destroy the surprises.

But what if you read a review, or watch one on TV, or even a collection of reviews, before going to the movie, not only to choose one you'd find interesting but so that even when you're watching it you'll be prepared to catch fine points you might miss if you went into the darkened auditorium unprepared. A lot of people read reviews after seeing something to see if they agree with the reviewer, to see if he or she saw things they missed, or if his/her interpretations are valid, or bogus. But consider this: if you read reviews after seeing the shows, and see in those writeups things you missed or dismissed in the storyline, could you have been looking for more and finding more if you had prepared more by doing a little background investigation...by approaching the subject matter actively rather than passively?

Now this series isn't about the movies but about how to think, but I've found in many years of ministering, teaching, and even parenting, that movies are one of the easiest things to talk about, and they are common ground, even common collections of thoughts and ideas, that we can share with a wide spectrum of people, and even those who wouldn't tolerate a discussion of a book (even those who won't discuss books because they refuse to read them) are willing to discuss a movie. And it need not be a theatergoing movie, of course; a DVD, video tape, or over-the-cable movie can be just as well discussed.

What I've said thus far argues that reading or watching reviews of movies enhances the movie watching and reacting process. It makes it possible to act upon the watching and reacting process, rather than being passive or letting it act upon you. The same thing is true, too, of course, in every other endeavor or "special interest" in life. Learning to think actively enables you to move toward being a proactive rather than reactive member of any discussion. In many of the classes I took in college and graduate school, I pretended to be a scientific thinker by taking good notes and regurgitating the right sounds or symbols when I was called upon to speak or turn in a test or term paper. Some courses are so unengaging that doing that much is more than anyone can expect, and most professors are so accustomed to dealing with indifferent classrooms full of mediocre thinkers that they don't require critical, analytical, or theoretical thinking. But the great teachers break through the passivity brain barrier and move their students from reacting "intelligently" to actually thinking creatively and independently.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 


When you don't know what to do, walk fast and look worried.

Sent by Julie Masterson  

Thought for today

Neurotics build castles in the air, psychotics live in them. My mother cleans them.

Rita Rudner  

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