I have nearly completed the first week of the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Core Course. Whew! In California in 1994 it seemed easier. Or maybe my brain was a lot younger.
I just took the first of 15 tests (I am doing it on-line) and passed the initial hurdle. For this intro I learned about the history and rules of the program (i.e. – you will get a great education in exchange for sharing horticultural knowledge with others), public speaking and presentation skills (be sure and practice Latin pronunciation), how children learn (hands-on with projects), and critical thinking – with the emphasis being on the later.
I wondered about critical thinking. How in the name of Gaia does this apply? Sounds a bit philosophical for someone who just wants to dig about in the dirt. But our daughter Sheila, had to take it for her nursing program and our grandson certainly mentioned it as a part of his creative writing college curriculum.
So, I reasoned, it just might be applicable in case I need to advise someone during my “pay-back” hours in the proper pruning of fruit trees? And they are stuck on tackling the job in the fall and I need to stress that it should be done just before growth begins in the spring in spite of the fact they are going to Hawaii at that time? Or I am confronted with a home gardener who insists on dousing every green sprig in sight with noxious pesticides and I can’t even get the words “integrated pest management” out of my mouth?
I watched a video and read three scholarly papers on the subject and came to the conclusion that the best definition of critical thinking is “the ability to reason empathetically within a point of view to which one is opposed.” Sounds like a Golden Rule for various political commentators, who will remain nameless. But I can also see how it might come into play when mentoring to others about gardening.
Or – just imagine – Life.