Angry Birds

This semester, I have been teaching a class at Tsinghua University called Critical Thinking.  Over the last two months, students have been learning how to identify an argument’s pattern of reasoning, and subsequently, how to criticize it.  Students have been learning about assumptions, credibility, clarification, inferences, logical fallacies, inconsistencies, and more.

Today was the summary lesson for the entire unit, and I decided to go creative on them.  I pulled out the hit game Angry Birds, and used it as one big analogy for critical thinking.  It was sweet.

Angry Birds. The perfect analogy for Critical Thinking.

Angry Birds, for those of you who haven’t heard of it, is a new hit game for smart phones.  It involves launching three “angry birds” at a crazy structure in order to destroy it as well as the evil pigs hiding inside.

Of course, in my mind, the structure represented the argument’s pattern of reasoning, and the angry birds were symbols of the various criticisms one could level against that structure.  The pigs, well, I suppose they could be metaphors for “human ignorance”, but I really just kept them in for comic effect.

Students helped me draw the structures of the four basic patterns: simple, side-by-side, joint, and chain.

In the second part of the class, students drew their argument's unique structure and hurled three criticisms (angry birds) against it in order to destroy it. Level Complete.

It was a fun day.  Now all I have to do is actually get a smart phone or tablet computer so I can play the game for real!


  1. Creative and current. Jeff I wish I’d had a teacher like you!

    1. Thanks, Martha! This has been a fun class to teach. I like the challenge of breaking down the critical thinking skills and then trying to teach them through creative means. Some topics are harder than others. While not everyone teaches with that type of flair in the west, I think it is much more common than it is in China. So I like to expose them to methods that may seem a bit silly, so they are prepared for that possibility later.

  2. well…. technically I could hurl “angry birds” at your teaching methods, but I enjoy them too much! 😉

    1. Ha ha. Would I be the pig in that analogy?

%d bloggers like this: