Politics

‘Question the Box’: Inez Ponce de Leon starts Inquirer column

A column that hopes to dare readers to “think critically, question what they read, and build a healthy habit of skepticism paired with curiosity” starts today in the Inquirer’s Opinion section.

With her new column “Question the Box,” Maria Inez Angela Z. Ponce de Leon, an associate professor at the communication department of Ateneo de Manila University, said she wants to use her space to question conventional assumptions and change the view that critical thinking is just being skeptical about everything.

“These assumptions can hold us back from understanding what our problems are, because we assume that some things cannot or should not be critiqued. In not critically looking at our assumptions, we also might hold back ourselves from innovative ways of solving our problems … I hope I can help them to think out of the box by first helping them question the box, howsoever invisible, that we build around ourselves.” By reexamining these assumptions, Ponce de Leon added, she wants to help readers acquire a different perspective about issues and conditions that affect their lives.

Era of runaway info

Ponce de Leon holds BS and MS degrees in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from the University of the Philippines Diliman and a Ph.D. from Purdue University, and is the associate chair of the communication department of Ateneo de Manila University. She teaches qualitative communication research and science and risk communication at Ateneo, where she also gives talks on science communication and removing myths about it.

Her area of expertise assumes particular importance at this time in an era of runaway information, disinformation, and fake news, which have upended societies and politics and will continue to shape the future of thought and notions of history and reality in both this country and the larger world.

“I teach critical theory and talk about its connection to critical thinking by telling my students to think about what they take for granted: What do they think is ‘unchanging and unchangeable’? What do they believe ‘has long been expected’ or ‘long been accepted’? All of these comprise our ‘box’: They’re the answers that we think have been there, our unwritten rules, our so-called culture,” she explained.

Ponce de Leon recalls how the Inquirer has been their household newspaper since her childhood, so “to be a part of a roster of luminaries is an honor.”

Her column comes out every Friday.

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