The importance of teaching critical thinking to students June 30th
Retired High-School Teacher Why Public Schools Don't Teach Critical Thinking -- Part 1 While ensuring students' physical safety is a school's first order of priority, the school should be no less vigilant in safeguarding them from propaganda that will assail them for the rest of their lives.
Proceed at your own risk. Don't accept as true what you're about to read. Some of it is fact; some of it is opinion disguised as fact; and the rest is liberal, conservative, or mainstream propaganda. Make sure you know which is which before choosing to believe it.
Students are exposed to so many different viewpoints on- and offline and so prone to accepting whatever they read, that they run the very real risk of becoming brainwashed.
If it's on a computer screen, it becomes Holy Writ, sacrosanct, immutable, beyond question or doubt. Not only egregious forms of indoctrination may target unsuspecting young minds, but also the more artfully contrived variety, whose insinuating soft-sell subtlety and silken appeals ingratiatingly weave their spell to lull the credulous into accepting their wares.
To prevent this from happening, every school in America should teach the arts of critical thinking and critical reading, so that a critical spirit becomes a permanent possession of every student and pervades the teaching of every course in America. This would be time well-spent in protecting students from the contagion of toxins on- or offline.
While ensuring students' physical safety is a school's first order of priority, the school should be no less vigilant in safeguarding them from propaganda that will assail them for the rest of their lives.
Everyone wants to sell students a viewpoint, against which schools should teach them the art of protecting themselves. Teaching students how to be their own persons by abandoning group-think and developing the courage to think for themselves should begin from the very first day of high school.
More important than all the information they will learn during these four crucial years will be how they critically process that information to either accept or reject it.
The essence of an education - the ability to think critically and protect oneself from falsehood and lies - may once have been taught in American schools, but, with few exceptions, is today a lost art. This is unfortunate for it is precisely this skill that is of transcendent importance for students in defending themselves.
Computers are wonderful things, but, like everything else in this world, they must be approached with great caution. Their potential for good can suddenly become an angel of darkness that takes over their minds.
The school owes its students to teach them how to think, not what to think; to question whatever they read, and never to accept any claim blindly; to suspend judgment until they've heard all sides of a question, and interrogate whatever claims to be true, since the truth can withstand any scrutiny.
Critical thinking is life's indispensable survival skill, compared to which everything else is an educational frill! Apart from a few teachers who do train their students in critical thinking, most teachers do not for one simple reason -- there is no time.
State education departments mandate that so much material has to be covered that critical thinking cannot be taught, nor can the courses themselves be critically presented. In order to cover the curriculum, courses must be taught quickly, superficially, and uncritically, the infallible way of boring students.
This is a great source of frustration to teachers, who would rather teach their courses in depth in order to give students an informed understanding of the issues involved, the controversies surrounding these issues, the social and political resistance their field of inquiry may have encountered, and its cultural impact upon society; in short, the splash and color of its unfolding drama.
At the same time, teachers are forever having to keep one eye on the clock to finish their course by the end of the semester, when there is scarcely time to teach the "official" viewpoint, much less the controversy surrounding each question.
This omission of alternative theories and their attendant controversies leaves students with the mistaken impression that there is little if any disagreement among scholars about what they are taught, as though what is presented is self-evident truth.
The problem, of course, is that it may not be the truth at all, but only one side of a raging decades-old debate that happens to be the "official" view of the moment, with other views unacknowledged, much less discussed. Not that every discipline lends itself to controversy, but most subjects do, with key questions still fiercely debated.
History, psychology, sociology, economics, the natural sciences, the arts and humanities are all teeming with conflicts, yet this is regrettably kept from students.
Some teachers may make a glancing reference to specialist debates, provide as much critical commentary as possible on the bias of the class text, or cite alternative theories, but what is possible is not nearly enough.
The sheer bulk of material necessarily inhibits its critical treatment, which requires time to explore rival explanations so that students can grasp the excitement of learning and the contentious world of ongoing scholarship. Rather than partaking of a sumptuous banquet, students receive only a very thin gruel, insufficient nourishment for questing young minds.
Because students are usually taught only one viewpoint about everything, they simply accept the theory they learn on their teacher's authority with perhaps little understanding of the reasons provided.
However, were they taught a second and third theory, along with their respective pro and con arguments, students would be drawn into a more nuanced understanding of the problem, try to determine which theory was right, and discover their minds at a deeper level as they grappled with the question and experience the excitement of intellectual inquiry.
Such breakthroughs occur all too seldom in classrooms because only one "weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable" view is all they learn amidst the rapid pace of the course. Imagine the ongoing stimulus of cognitive dissonance were several theories routinely presented with no attempt at resolving the issue.
Now that would be a course worth taking! It is this intellectual ferment that is missing in schools today, thanks to a state policy which fosters a climate of indoctrination by default by teaching one viewpoint.
The solution, naturally, lies in relaxing this mile-wide-inch-deep approach to curriculum, employed for generations to little effect. In its place, teachers would critically treat in depth as many of the course essentials as possible, omitting what couldn't be taught in the time remaining.
If we want to raise a more reflective generation, critical treatment of material trumps "material covered" every time.FUN Critical Thinking Activities - For Students in Any Subject by Monica Dorcz | This newsletter was created with Smore, an online tool for creating beautiful newsletters for for educators, nonprofits, businesses and more.
Critical thinking is a skill that students develop gradually as they progress in school. This skill becomes more important in higher grades, but some students find it difficult to understand the concept of critical thinking. The High School Teacher Bundle includes instructional design materials that can be adapted for high school students.
It also includes a book designed to help the teacher begin to internalize the foundations of critical thinking. Students can try the following five tools students to develop the critical thinking skills necessary for success on every high school or college test and assignment.
[Hone these top five soft. Developing critical thinking abilities is a necessary skill for all high school students but teaching these skills is not the easiest task for high school teachers.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of information online to provide teachers the resources needed for creating critical thinking lesson. Educators from the Bay Area's KIPP King Collegiate High School and the KIPP network have provided these resources for you to use in your own school.
Using resources and tools like the ones below, educators at KIPP King Collegiate High School focus on honing critical thinking skills across all.