Johnny Can Read, He Just Can't Think

Recent research has revealed that all of the computers that our children have grown up with aren’t enhancing their education. Reading when young is an important part of intellectual development, and the earlier the better. It isn’t that our youngsters aren’t getting words to read, it’s that they are getting too many pictures. All of the computer games, while endlessly amusing, aren’t providing enough words. Please allow me to explain.

 

When brains are developing, the processing of words is important. The reason is that after certain points of development are achieved, students need to take words and process them into mental images without the help of pictures. The ability to take words and translate them into thoughts is a skill brought about by reading, and of course, providing evidence of comprehension via tests and writing. To their credit, the online and computer games have made the people who play them very cognizant of both hardware and software. To get an idea of just how much the computer game industry is making, consider that in 2016 the “gamers” will generate $99.6 billion, with mobile gaming taking 21.3% of that revenue. The gaming business is a story all itself, but we’re talking about Johnny’s abilities here.

 

It isn’t that all of Johnny’s abilities are limited by games; as mentioned, reactions, hand-eye coordination, and knowledge of hardware and software have expanded with game users. The game players themselves move in grade-like advancement with increasingly difficult tasks as the operator moves up through the ranks. But problems like the inability to process words into mental images, addiction to the games, depression, and lack of social skills all come along with the fun. My favorite narrative of the addiction phenomenon of computer games is from an episode of the television show Big Bang Theory where the cute, sexy neighbor becomes quickly addicted to an online game to the point that she falls into a state of neglect, ignoring personal hygiene because she is obsessed with the game. It is interesting that the high-IQ scientists portrayed on Big Bang Theory are all quite adept and experienced with computer games and yet all are exceedingly socially awkward. There is always a grain of truth behind stereotypes. It would only make sense that people who spend significant amounts of their lives staring at computer screens lose some social contact and the related skills. Of course, the same lack of skills could be said for the geeks of the former generations who spent all of their time reading textbooks, except that textbooks, as far as I have studied, are not addictive and do not cause depression. According to some reports, several of the crazed gunmen responsible for shootings in America had practiced shooting via computer games; whether there was a relationship I cannot say. I would suggest that real firearms are not easily simulated by computer games, but they have become much more realistic of late, and there are many simulations that are used to train people with firearms.

 

Some of the researchers are saying that growing up with images has hindered the abilities of young people to think, and to think critically. The overexposure to graphic images has impeded the abilities of the young people to take words and create images in their minds. Certainly, the young people of today read a lot of things on their computers and cell phones, but the screens are full of images, which is quite different from the texts of old, where you had to read the words and assemble a picture in your mind. It appears that the lack of mental exercise, of critical thinking, where words were provided and the thinking was up to the individual, has created a crop of young people who are rather short in their critical thinking skills. I noticed this lack of critical thinking skills in business majors some time ago. There is a difference between learning and thinking. Learning means knowing things such as facts and knowing how to do things. Thinking splits off into different modes of thinking, like scientific, mathematical, historical, economic, or philosophical thinking. Please permit me to briefly and superficially describe critical thinking, or problem solving.  Critical thinking involves examining situations, considering flaws, looking at the facts and making suggestions about how to solve what is going wrong. As such, that is a very thin definition, but I’m not writing a book about critical thinking, I’m noting the skills many of our young people are lacking, and possibility of the source of the problem, being too many images and not enough text that needs to be mentally visualized.  

 

While I am sure that computers can aid learning, I am equally sure that having everything displayed in pictures, as well as being able to push buttons and instantly get answers, could not help intellectual development. Research suggests that in order to remember most things, they need to be gone over on an average of seven times. That means that you had to look at it, read it, or write it seven times, some people more, some people less, but seven is an average for mastery of material. I am not aware of how many times you have to look at a picture to memorize it, or how many times you have to Google something to have it memorized.  

 

I can say that despite the millions of sources on the internet, from personal experience, most of the students do not use the internet for much in-depth analysis. The internet makes vast resources available, but not accessed very much, at least from my experience. The internet is a great source for, as I have mentioned numerous times, conspiracy theorists and other prophets who espouse doom, historical revision, and trends that they swear are happening, using every shred of evidence from increased car accidents to candlepower of the full moon to support their fatuous theories. None of the ludicrous internet theories are making us smarter, and while I do not recommend doubting every idea put forth, there are proven facts that young people, as well as everyone else, needs to accept. The YouTube videos on why an education is worthless is doing a disservice to the young and naïve; but that wouldn’t be the first time that has happened. Those that follow the advice of school being worthless will, after things that they don’t understand happen to them in the world, understand the value of an education.

 

The internet even had an anorexia club, where young ladies with the disorder were encouraged to continue along with the disorder, presumably with the first young girl to starve to death being the winner. I am not saying go backward, or stop the advancement of technology. I am suggesting that a few of the hours that the young people spend gaming be spent reading, mastering the ability to comprehend and compose mental images without the help of graphics. The lack of critical thinking skills seems obvious to some of us, but maybe it has always been there; I can’t make that judgement. Like most educators, we can only show them the way, it is up to them to take it.

 

Comments

Mircea Negres Added Mar 4, 2017 - 3:03am
Nice post, Jeff. Wen it comes to the current dependence on the internet, I use the following analogy:
"A guy is always on his phone, accessing information but generally not memorising any of it. Then one day he takes a trip and gets lost in the desert. His phone battery runs flat and he doesn't have any survival skills because he thought he'd always have that information at his fingertips- and then he dies a slow, painful death".
 
The massive amount of information made available by the internet is unprecedented in human history, but all of that is made irrelevant when people don't bother to put it in their heads, transform it into knowledge then apply it until it becomes wisdom gained through experience. What I can say based on personal experience of two educations systems in two countries on two continents is that neither encouraged critical thinking, only learning by rote and mindlessly regurgitating facts on demand. As a consequence, both countries' people are generally anti-intellectual, their mentalities quite rigid and brains full of ignorance, all of which make it easy for the (mis)ruling elites to rob them blind and make false promises ad infinitum.
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 4, 2017 - 4:35am
Great point Mirvea. While not happy to see it elsewhere, it reinforces the point.  And yes, I am amazed at the students who think there is no point learning anything because the internet will always be there.
Shane Laing Added Mar 4, 2017 - 6:31am
I agree Jeff. A colleague of mine has a son who was told to write an essay regarding some period of history.  His son then went to Google did a copy and paste and submitted the essay to his teacher and was awarded an A grade. My colleague was most upset and went to the school to challenge the teacher as to why he had been given an A when he had not done any work.  He was dumfounded by the teachers reply which was "its not that he knows it but he knows where to get the information."  The internet should be used as a tool for imparting knowledge not as an aid to avoid study. 
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 4, 2017 - 6:43am
One of the big software markets is academia for plagiarism. With the plagiarism detectors, most of the "cut and paste" homework handed in is easily detected as fraud. If all the students are doing is cutting and pasting, then they might as well just give the website as the answer and forget everything else. I remember when research as going to the library and tracking down books and academic journals. All the work that I did makes today's research look like a walk in the park.
Bill Kamps Added Mar 4, 2017 - 8:10am
Certainly the games cause social problems among the people that are addicted.  However, it is difficult to connect the dots and determine what that means to society.
 
For example, most people used to know how to go out and hunt, kill their own food, and clean and prepare the animal for eating.  That skill has mostly disappeared among society that lives in the cities.  Has it caused great harm ? not really unless we again are trapped in the wilderness where the phone doesnt work, and we have to fend for ourselves.  Similarly for farming, fishing and other skills more necessary in the 1800s when people were more self sufficient.
 
This doesnt mean that video games wont have a negative impact on society.  Ryan will tell us that TV has destroyed our brains, and to some extent that has happened, but the world keeps spinning and society hasn't come apart in the past 50-60 years.  The games seem more addictive than TV, especially since we can now record any show we want to watch, so it doesnt interfere with other activities.
 
Knowing the long term effects of video gaming is an interesting problem and not one easily deduced.  For example, a young woman friend of mine was recently complaining that it is difficult to find guys to date who arent addicted to video games.  They tend  not to want to go "do anything" and the games take priority over spending time with friends, and her.  Will the games lower birth  rates to dangerous levels ? who knows ?
 
My opinion is that there is a lack of problem solving skills among younger people, but those skills may have been lacking in my generation as well.  After all, those of us who took engineering classes easily observed those who "got it" and those who were just able to pass the class but couldnt really create anything with the knowledge the classes provided, because they didnt have the real problem solving skills to extend the knowledge learned.
 
George N Romey Added Mar 4, 2017 - 9:32am
Good article Jeff and great comments.  As we have discussed before millennials and the new generation are not being taught critical thinking and reasoning skills.  They are taught how to memorize answers to a test. In the business world they can't make decisions or think through an issue.  If there isn't a spreadsheet or software program with an exact answer they become powerless.  Despite time after time data driven decision making only often makes lousy decisions.  Just look at the 2016 election.
 
Johnny can't read and Johnny can't think.  Johnny spends his entire life addicted to a computer screen and that's all he knows.  In fact, Johnny probably doesn't know squat about how technology was formed in the 20th century.  Does Johnny know about the history of the desk top or smart phone?  No way. 
 
Now back in my day we had pacman.  Still we were forced to interact, socialize and adapt to our surroundings.  Did you know that a recent report showed that 23% of 23 year old or younger males reported no to little sex drive.  Something is taking over our society and its not good.
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 4, 2017 - 10:16am
George is right and the experiences prove it. Bill Kamps suggests a more precarious scenario. Hunting and killing isn't about killing and eating, it is about the mastery of skills that hunting provides; it is a rite of passage. Traditions aren't about computer screens where you push a button for a reset, they are about the lessons learned by firing and missing, or hunting and never seeing anything. The notion of instant gratification is propelled by the computer games, and apparently, depression is an important consideration. My recommendation: If the games are "bumming you out" try going outside and some different challenges. Disregard for tradition is rampant, and I pity those who do not understand what it means; it isn't about killing things, no matter what the anti-gun people say.
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 4, 2017 - 10:55am
Do you think the Government wants critical thinkers in society?  There is a reason school systems are teaching kids to pass tests and not to think.
 
But I put most of the success of removing critical thinking on parents, it is our job to help fill in those gaps.  In that way I believe our modern, selfish society has done the most harm, parents are now more concerned with their own lives than looking out for their children.
 
My kinds have critical thinking skills because I challenge them and debate them and make them work with their hands and I teach them things the schools do not.  but how many parents are like me these days?  Very few in my opinion.
 
 
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 4, 2017 - 11:14am
Yes, Louis, I challenge many students. I tell them that I am not disagreeing with them, I just want them to defend their position, to tell me why they think the way that they think. I tell them not because the book says so, many books say many things that you will disagree with, defend your position. I let them think as they wish, I only ask that they offer reasons as to why they think the way they think. Computer games don't require much thinking, as many can attest.
George N Romey Added Mar 4, 2017 - 11:41am
We have an entire generation that is garbage fed from elementary school on up. Go to Medium and you see so called "thinkers" that do nothing more than rant about Trump is "bad", or why my kitty is so happy when she purrs.  I mean total crap.  And these are the best of the bunch.  No surprise that youth is addicted to endless hours of video games, there is no thinking involved.
 
In fact, as I have said many times thinkers are just not valued anymore in the workplace, they are treated with contempt.  How dare you suggest that the answer can be found without pages of spreadsheets and realms of alleged data (like all the data on the 2016 election that was pontificated by the pundits.) 
 
Have you gone back and listened to a speech by FDR, Eisenhower or JFK.  Today such a speech would be ridiculed by the elites.  Most Americans would be clueless as to what was implied.  A person like Steve Jobs today couldn't get a job at BestBuy.  Really sad.
Steve Borsher Added Mar 4, 2017 - 12:12pm
Johnny can read? In bite (byte) size misspelled words; maybe. Before one can think there needs to be clearly understood communication.
Minister Peaceful Poet Added Mar 4, 2017 - 12:51pm
They're being trained to be better fighters in modern warfare.  One day, they'll all be drone pilots protecting us all from them evil non existent terrorist, that innocent civilian who happened to be in the wrong place.  That's what they get for being born in the middle east.
Steve Borsher Added Mar 4, 2017 - 1:41pm
Better color code the controls
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 4, 2017 - 2:10pm
The gaming skill set is not very extensive, and it does not translate into very many professions, with one exception. The drone operators (I do not see where "pilot" applies here) are positions in the military where a few hundred will be drawn from millions who have game experience. In the mean time, doing things like working on cars or pluming, electrical, or other skilled trades are shunned. Let's hope their moms have room in the basement, and the games don't become too expensive. 
Steve Borsher Added Mar 4, 2017 - 2:28pm
And that self-driving cars are also self-repairing.
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 4, 2017 - 2:42pm
The great thing is that now they won't have to learn how to drive, so they can play games while getting wherever it is they go, like school or Walmart.  From my experience, many of them play "pool" a pool table game that they were obsessed with, at least some time ago, and they wouldn't put down their iPhones to do any schoolwork, because the "pool" game was so fascinating.
George N Romey Added Mar 4, 2017 - 3:12pm
When the next economic meltdown comes and the Fed and Treasury lock down the ATMs and credit cards the little precious things will be waiting outside a Wholefoods trying to get a wifi signal. That is until a hungry pack of dogs abandoned by their owners turns them into dinner.  People like myself, Jeff, Steve, MPP, etc. will have found land to live on.
Steve Borsher Added Mar 4, 2017 - 4:04pm
I'll be happy to be off the roads when the self-driving cars fail and people don't know how to drive them. And we should all be dog owners are this point; ones that are good scavengers. I've been careful to not train the wolf out of my new pup.
George N Romey Added Mar 4, 2017 - 4:52pm
My hunch is that the insurance and legal industry will find a way to dispense with self driving cars.  It will go the way of 50 years ago of supersonic air travel. 
Dino Manalis Added Mar 4, 2017 - 5:11pm
Education should begin and continue at home and coincide with school.  Technology should only be supplemental, sometimes, not constantly.  There's much more to life!
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 4, 2017 - 5:55pm
Yes, Dino, or at least games should be banned from schools. As I said, I had students addicted to games and every spare second was used to play them. Even now, we have hundreds of young people being killed in traffic accidents because they cannot stop texting long enough to drive safely. As much as I hate radical solutions, sometimes people cannot be trusted to make rational decisions.
Steve Borsher Added Mar 4, 2017 - 7:00pm
Yes, and now there is Pokemon Go. How can companies be allowed to release things like that wild like that; they are as addictive and dangerous as drugs. Money talks; people die.
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 4, 2017 - 7:21pm
Being as I do not indulge in these things, I learned something about the games this week. They offer the basic games for free to hook you. Then, after you really like the game, in order to continue, you have to pay. Kinda like the old razor marketing scenario, where they lose money on the instrument but make a killing on selling the replacement razor blades. Clever, I have to hand it to them. Maybe if they have tests that the game players have to pass in order to play the game. Pass the test, get to pay the game. Fail the test, study until you can pass the test, then you can play. Reward the hard-studying students with playtime, and make the poor performers study more. Maybe I should call my congressman...
George N Romey Added Mar 4, 2017 - 8:07pm
Jeff good luck with the Congressman.  I wrote multiple Congressmen and Senators about the suicide and opiate addiction among older Americans as their economic well being is being destroyed. Still waiting.
Steve Borsher Added Mar 4, 2017 - 8:31pm
Many congresspeople, due to their advanced (read: too old) years, have no idea about the temptations of the young, be it drugs or psychological manipulation. They are out of touch and untouchable. We can only hope that Trump has started a revolution, of sorts, that will get them replaced by some fresh thinkers.
Shane Dean Added Mar 4, 2017 - 8:47pm
Another major problem with our current education system is the emphasis on "informational reading".  They are taught to read something for information or instruction.  Fiction is being tossed aside because that requires independent analysis and Common Core education was not designed for that.  It was designed to create pliant drudges. 
George N Romey Added Mar 4, 2017 - 9:01pm
Shane education is about passing a multiple choice test and going to the next grade so school administrators are not hassled.  We are preparing a bunch of mindless bots that will spend 12 hours a day creating Excel spreadsheets.  We are already there. I go on job interviews for management jobs and they only concern is my "excel skills."  
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 4, 2017 - 11:31pm
What is amazing is that we have a federal Department of Education that doesn't seem to be doing much- except attempting to deny funds to schools that don't do things that they ask- like teaching illegals in their native language, no matter what it is- more of the political correctness  swamp that hopefully Trump will get rid of.
Shane Laing Added Mar 5, 2017 - 4:19am
George I once went to a job interview and met with their HR department personnel. (HR Human Remains). I was asked a question regarding what annoyed me. I replied being asked stupid questions on interviews which are completely irrelevant to the job being applied for. Needless to say I didn't get the job. Another thing is companies that require qualifications for the most mundane jobs.  An instance being that one local authority wanted road sweepers. To apply candidates were required to have 5 decent qualifications which included English, Maths and a science subject. I mean come on are they really needed. When I left the Army I had difficulty in getting a job but eventually got one as a security guard.  I was working in a building that had many banks Chase, Bank of Yokohama etc.  One day this banker refused to show his security pass and went straight through the gates, when I called him back he launched a tirade of abuse, bragging about how much he earned compared to me, that I was a dumb security guard and was going to complain about me.  Later in the day I received a memo from this same person.  I was astounded when I read it so I took out my red pen and corrected his memo, check spelling, check grammar, use capital letters when starting a sentence, memos are interdepartmental only, communication should at least be official and sent it back.  He complained to his boss.  The next thing I knew was that his boss grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and frogmarched him down to see me and apologise not only for his behaviour but his memo. This banker may have had a degree in maths and could work a computer screen but his English was appalling.
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 5, 2017 - 7:30am
Yes, Shane, I had a similar experience. In an interview I was asked to write a letter to a customer, and the instructions had misspelled words. I figured if I told the person that was interviewing me that, I would not get the job, but the teacher in me came out and I told them of the errors. Didn't get the job. Frankly, I am wondering what some of these people did to get get hired; apparently, I didn't do whatever it was they did.
Steve Borsher Added Mar 5, 2017 - 9:33am
Most managers don't know how to interview; they merely mimic the process that got them hired. I never looked resumes; I let HR use them to qualify people for interviews. Then I asked questions that were important to me and what I needed to accomplish. I never fired anyone I ever hired, but I did gut the department of people who were frivolously hired before I took over.
Richard Plank Added Mar 5, 2017 - 10:29am
interesting comments and Jeff a very important and impactful issue.  There are a number of books one can read both pro, con and mixed on the interaction of the internet, reading, and thinking.  Last I saw about 2010, reading comprehension and speed scores were down about 20% from 1990.  So much so that one of my colleagues put a reading exercise of 6 weeks embedded in the second marketing course students took.  His data suggested significant success in this small group.  My own experience over the past 25 or so years of this phenomenon is there are plenty of negatives, some positives and it is a wicked problem to examine all the interactions, but like any technology there are significant negatives that go along with the positives.  We have this for better or worse so we need to fix it.   Lewis, our system allows I would argue even encourages both opportunistic behavior as well as abuse of power in government and in most everything else as well so we should not be surprised that we see overt actions including limiting the ability of some to think critically.  In the long run they are only slightly successful I would argue, but one of the issues debated in the internet generation is just that; how is this technology helping or hurting critical thinking.  I for one, believe it does not help much, but it certainly can if we harness it.  I think educators on average have been very slow to deal with an obvious problem; that is we have access to a lot more information, most of which is biased in some way, some of which is downright incorrect and how do we deal with that.  It has actually always been like that, but information is a lot easier to find now and from a time perspective no longer spending hours sitting in a library reading when you can bring the library to you. 
Steve;  I am in the middle of working with a group who has a pre-employment testing business they are trying to get up and running that involves measuring what they refer to as non cognitive skills/aptitudes.  My job is to help them redesign the measures and validate them and no I am not getting paid for it, that is not what I do, but I am going to companies who come to our universities and hire our students and try and get them to give me the platform for validation.  If it works and we can build it they have a very good potential business and if not our business partners get to use our skills to find out something of importance to their business.  Anyway my reading of  the interview research is simply it appears to be a mixed bag, some know and do a good job, some do not and there are numerous consultants out there who will help you do a better job. 
Shane Laing Added Mar 5, 2017 - 11:41am
Richard. I would say that the pre-employment testing would be advantageous not only to university graduates but useful for all.
George N Romey Added Mar 5, 2017 - 12:03pm
My experience is interviewers do not know how to ask deep questions that require the candidate to show his or her logic and reasoning skill.  So you can mundane questions on software skills that even if not known could be learned within a couple of weeks.  But tougher skills like how do you satisfy a demanding and at times unreasonable customer go unanswered and those are the situations that can cost your firm money.
Steve Borsher Added Mar 5, 2017 - 12:20pm
And it's even harder now with the Supremes sanctioning lying on resumes under the 1st Amendment.
George N Romey Added Mar 5, 2017 - 12:42pm
I would ask situational questions. I'd ask someone to speak on a subject ad hominin.  I would want to see their ability to think or their feet and immediately apply critical thinking and logic.  I'd ask them to describe the most difficult time in their life and what they did to cope and ultimately prevail. The last thing I want is a crybaby that cannot roll with whatever comes.  But I do not see these kind of interviews.
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 5, 2017 - 1:24pm
Thanks for the comments Richard. I would be very careful about designing tests for employment. Walmart just took one on the chin because the test turned out to be unfair to certain people. I am so fed up with tests that I am almost to the point that if asked to take one, I will only do so if I can review the test with the interviewer- Why, you ask?  I was told that I failed tests that I know I flat-out nailed. The test was a reason not to hire me, by saying  that I "didn't do very well on the test" which I know I nailed. I have always scored high on standardized tests. One of my last standardized tests I score in the top 15% of the scores in America. I warned my HR class one of my last courses before I graduated that they had better take an industrial psychology course and some education courses before they start putting tests together, because an unfair test can be very expensive. I'm not sure if lying about a test  score is legally actionable, but if there are any lawyers out there that want to weigh in (or sue a few people) I'm all ears.
Patrick Writes Added Mar 6, 2017 - 12:22am
This post raises a number of important issues. All of them important. 
 
1) Technology in learning. I agree with the author that besides teaching kids proficiency in tools like spreadsheets and word processors (maybe a youtube lecture occasionally as well), and how to use the Internet to find information, technology doesn't TEACH anything. It's a tool. 
 
The most important factor for teaching kids is teachers. You don't need technology to teach kids how to read, write, and do math. You need a human being to do that. 
 
2) The Internet doesn't contain a lot of analysis, but has a lot of periphery-level information. So it you wanted to know when the hundreds years was fought or who's buried in Grant's tomb, it's excellent for that.
 
But paradoxically, in order to think critically (my opinion) you need to know stuff. Kids need to memorize and learn a foundation of information to be able to think critically. How could you know that Columbus lived at the end of the Middle Ages unless you knew when the Middle Ages were? And how would you know the culture his men came from fought for hundreds of years to kick the Muslim Moors out of Spain (literally finally accomplished a few years before 1492) unless you knew who the Moors were (and where Spain is)? And maybe that played a role in how brutal they were toward the natives they encountered.
 
3) Parents need to raise their kids. Video games keep kids quiet. So do movies. They can be used sparingly without any detrimental effect. But if you allow kids to spend entire days playing video games, that's not a good idea. They should be reading or outside playing or practicing a sport or musical instrument or something. 
 
Finally, this whole 'teaching kids how to think' liberal arts education kind of stuff. I've never really bought it. Some college professor in a cooshy job having his students read (what are usually crappy) novels and analyzing them to death is somehow teaching them to think. Is it really?
 
You're teaching them to examine the words and actions of uninteresting characters doing uninteresting things for no real purpose? So they can get high later and analyze the evolutionary utility of urine and it's cleaning properties if left to decompose into ammonia--actually the Romans did that and even that is more useful to know than what goes on in many of these college English classes. Some Romans even swished this fermented urine to whiten their teeth. 
Tamara Wilhite Added Mar 6, 2017 - 9:38am
Modern education focuses on what children are supposed to think and emotionally invests them in the ideology, not critical thinking and analysis.
Steve Borsher Added Mar 6, 2017 - 10:28am
"You're teaching them to examine the words and actions of uninteresting characters doing uninteresting things for no real purpose?" I had the same feeling about Sesame Street. How real life was that?
Jeff Jackson Added Mar 6, 2017 - 12:16pm
There is a distinct difference between taking a test and barfing back facts and taking a test where you are given a real situation and your grade will be how well you explain it, what is working, what is not, and what you recommend to resolve the situation. This scenario was tested in several political science classes that I took. The classes gave me the critical thinking skills that I still use today. The prof I took (one of them) was known for being quite difficult, and many of his classes were thinned out very quickly after the first exam. It is teachable, but it requires work.