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    Walt Whitman and Learning

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    William James, the American philosopher and psychologist, is attributed to have said "A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." The scholar must move beyond this rearranging of prejudice, which is sometimes called confirmation bias, and become a critical thinker.
    One way to approach critical thinking is based on the word critic. This model combines the scientific method with classical skepticism.
    The first C represents the claim.
    In other words, it is the statement of fact that is being made. When considering the claim, it is important to ask the question "Is what is being proposed scientifically observable and measurable?"
    The principle of falsifiability is a critical element here. The concept of falsifiability, which is sometimes known as testability, states that the claim being made must be something that can be tested in an observable manner.
    The R represents the role of the claimant.
    There are some important questions to consider about the person making the claim :
    • Is it the eye-witness or someone with second-hand information? Even if both the eye-witness and the person with second-hand information are saying the same thing, a logical thinker will accept one version of an event over the other.
    • Is the claimant credible? For example, are you more likely to believe the word of an expert psychologist or a convicted felon?
    • Is there a profit motive or something the person could gain? For example, would you put more trust in the word of your local pharmacist or a pharmaceutical TV commercial?
    The first I is the information backing the claim.
    What evidence is presented and is it verifiable? Are there multiple sources to support the claim? Let the research have its own voice rather than being a series of "I feel," "I believe," or "I think" statements.
    T is test.
    Can the claim be tested to insure that cheating, errors, or outside variables are not biasing the results? The claim must be verified. Typically, here is where the word most graduate learners fear comes into play - statistics.
    The second I represents independent testing.
    Are there multiple sources of rigorous, unbiased, and reputable research available in support of or against the claim? Having both affirmative and counter evidence is important in clarifying a decision.
    The last C asks what cause is proposed?
    Is the explanation for the claim consistent with known laws or paradigms? Occam's razor proposes that "one should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything." In other words - the simplest answer is very often the right answer.
    While CRITIC is not the perfect model for critical thinking, it is an immediately usable approach.

    u01d1 Critical Thinking
    Read Walt Whitman's poem below. What implications may it have, not just for this course, but for your journey toward a master's degree?
    When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
    When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
    When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
    When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
    When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
    How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
    Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
    In the mystical moist night-air, from time to time,
    Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
    — Walt Whitman, (1819-1892).
    Your initial post needs to be at least 250 words and have at least one reference to support your position.
    • Discussion Participation Scoring Guide.
    • Counseling FirstCourse - Library Research Guide: Walt Whitman.
    Whitman, W. (1900). Leaves of grass.

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    Solution Preview

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    First, as you discuss the poem and consider what implications may it have for your journey toward a master's degree, I feel that "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" suggests the inquiry-based nature of the program itself. Since so much of the program is about self discovery, self assessment, self analysis, and one's own self of self actualization, the poem reaffirms how one has to be proactive on the path as Whitman suggests,
    "When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
    When I was shown the charts ...

    Solution Summary

    Walt Whitman and Learning are briefly correlated.