AE2 Critical Thinking

The Advanced English 2 (AE2) course is, like the first course in the series, about actively using English to discuss and learn about a particular topic rather than focusing on the language itself. The topic for AE2 is Critical Thinking, and as such is a demanding course for the students.

The class uses a book called “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions,” written by psychologist and behavioral economist, Dan Ariely. Because it is a topic many students have not investigated before, they can choose to read the original English text side-by-side the Japanese translation in order to reinforce and provide accessibility to understanding the topics. It is important that students understand the topics in order to fully participate in the course.

So far, the class has covered and discussed some basics of critical thinking and a number of specific concepts such as “anchoring.” The book explains that, much like a ship’s anchor, our minds can become anchored to certain value systems, actions, or even ways of thinking based on prior experience. For instance, if a person is used to paying around 1000 yen for a box of chocolates, but later sees a different one at the price of 3000 yen, they are likely to consider the second one expensive. The students learned that relying too much on prior information to make judgements is also called “anchoring bias.”

By the end of the semester, students will also complete a project related to the course material and continue learning about critical thinking and what separates it from automatic thinking. I’m looking forward to learning right along with the students.