You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Critical thinking’ tag.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

My years of supporting my kids’ schools and working on academic accountability committees are long gone, but I’ve seen the effects of some of our educational failings for this generation. Too much standardization and test-taking passes for providing a rigorous education. I worry that our current systems reward passive thinking and even lead to disengagement for those who might want to think more deeply.

For years I’ve been saying that in order to create rigorous educational systems that we have to get the students engaged. The factory model of grading students well if they can parrot what teachers say or if they do well on multiple choice tests does not encourage critical thinking. What it does encourage is shallow learning at the best and group think at the worst.

The question students need to ask is what does this information mean? And then to think about how what that information means may vary for many reasons. What does it mean in these times? In previous times? To me? To others who are not like me? Education isn’t really about giving people answers but about giving them the tools to ask the questions and to do something with what they know and understand.

It’s too easy to dismiss today’s students as pawns or lazy thinkers—and if they have bought into learning only what’s going to be on the test and what a specific teacher wants them to think about what they are learning, then, yes, that is true.

But today’s students also have access to an infinite amount of external information. If they do not feel right about something they have been taught, they can do their own research and reach out to others to try to discover what might seem truer to them.

Is that dangerous? Oh yes. But is that any more dangerous than not even questioning what one particular person or group wants them to believe?

We need students who can break through the spins that are coming from media outlets, politicians, researchers, community and world leaders, business people, the so-called man on the streets, educators, and even parents—really, from anyone who is trying to convince them of something because “they” say so. Our students need to be taught to strip away the bias and read and listen and think for themselves. Peer pressure is not just something that happens in high school—and yet the consequences from peer pressure in the real world are even more devastating for the whole of society.

Go ahead and try to teach patriotism by stripping away access to knowledge of the events that made past citizens fight to get this great country back on track. But don’t be surprised if those who choose to think deeply consider themselves just as patriotic as those who would tell them to believe blindly.

This is not a political party thing. This is not a generational thing. When kids have learned to think for themselves, don’t be surprised at what happens when they put those thinking skills into action. I have been worried that we have taught out the thinking skills—so glad to see thoughtful engagement in practice anyway. These kids—and consequently our country’s future—may just be all right after all.

Reference: Jefferson County (Colorado) students protesting curriculum proposal.

Advertisements

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 607 other followers

Blogging AtoZ Challenge 2012

Advertisements