Resources For Critical Thinking Via Coursera – Free!

Recently I was very worried to read of one example of negative-muttering on Twitter about another skeptic touting a course on critical thinking at TAM2012, and I wasn’t sure who said it, and wasn’t really sure which skeptic they were talking about… but I was really surprised. I was surprised because courses like that help out a great many people.

After all – wasn’t this why the Skeptic 101 resource on Skeptic.com exists? Why the JREF Education resources exist? There’s certainly lots of resources out there, but people could be hesitant to seek them out without recommendations or knowing if they’re just going to get some kind of New Age ‘free your mind’ kind of deal.

[Besides, I thought it was better to respond to negative muttering with some useful resources rather than just mutter negatively back in return!]

Since I’m going to continue teaching undergraduate Philosophy this year (Intro to Philosophy and Ethics, which should help me gather even more resources over time), this has been on my radar for a while. Like finding those who are seeking resources for even younger people, kids and the like – for example, on Twitter just yesterday, seeking critical thinking resources in Germany, which I responded to.

[BTW - The links I gave were to some Philosophy for Children sites, which are in German - http://www.kinder-philosophieren.de, http://www.goethe.de/ges/phi/eth/en3436444.htm and http://www.ph-karlsruhe.de/institute/ph/institut-fuer-philosophie-und-theologie/philosophie/personen/marsal/forschung.]

Since a lot of people seem interested in my experiences with and the methodology of Philosophy for Children program (it’s being used worldwide, as mentioned in this interview I did with Camp Quest UK’s Samantha Stein) – I’ve written an article for a forthcoming Swift blogpost and have interviewed one of the main contributors to P4C in this country that will feature in a future podcast episode too.

But what currently exists out there for people who might like to brush up their critical thinking skills? Here’s four that have appeared on my radar recently from one site that might help quell some of the muttering – feel free to suggest more in the comments:

NOTE – all of the following are FREE!

Introduction to Philosophy

This course will introduce you to some of the most important areas of research in contemporary philosophy. Each week a different philosopher will talk you through some of the most important questions and issues in their area of expertise.

Know Thyself

An investigation of the nature and limits of self-knowledge from the viewpoints of philosophy, psychoanalysis, experimental psychology, neuroscience, aesthetics, and Buddhism.  Readings are drawn from classical Western, non-Western, and contemporary sources.

A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior

In this course we will learn about some of the many ways in which people behave in less than rational ways, and how we might overcome these problems.

Think Again: How to Reason and Argue

Reasoning is important.  This course will teach you how to do it well.  You will learn how to understand and assess arguments by other people and how to construct good arguments of your own about whatever matters to you.

Also of interest: Model Thinking

In this class, I present a starter kit of models: I start with models of tipping points. I move on to cover models explain the wisdom of crowds, models that show why some countries are rich and some are poor, and models that help unpack the strategic decisions of firm and politicians.

In addition, found this fascinating site for the younger years – and there’s plenty more of these out there too!

Ask A Biologist:

http://askabiologist.org.uk/

This is a site aimed mostly at school kids and is devoted to providing the best scientific information available to anyone who is interested in any aspect of biology (the study of life) including palaeontology (the study of the history of life). But don’t be put off; we accept questions from anyone who asks – whatever their age! We want to take you beyond the classroom – if you want to know more on any subject that interests you, then ask us and we will help you to find the answer.

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • http://littlelioness.net Fiona

    I think I may have over-signed up on coursera. *bounces enthuiastically* zomg LEARNING


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