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The most effective way to do both is to teach students to write about what they’re learning, starting at the sentence level.
With the proliferation of unreliable “news”—and the danger it poses to the democratic process—it’s more important than ever for schools to cultivate students’ ability to think critically. In this election season, commentators have been calling on educators to teach critical thinking.
The prevalence of fake news has only increased since 2016, despite the efforts of tech companies to screen it out.
As far back as 1983, a government report lamented that many high school students lacked “higher order intellectual skills.” That led to a proliferation of programs designed to teach critical thinking, including one that sold over 70,000 teacher guides.
By 1990, most states had launched such initiatives.
As teachers have told me and as I've seen for myself, children of virtually any age and any level of "ability" can engage in it. Studies have shown that even three-year-olds are capable of thinking critically.
The fact is, teachers don’t need special “critical thinking” programs to turn kids into critical thinkers.They just need to teach something substantive and then guide students to think about it analytically through classroom discussion or writing—or better yet, both.I’ve seen this happen in some of the few American classrooms that do teach substance to young kids.Even when people possess the knowledge they need to think critically about a particular question, they generally don’t apply it.To counteract that tendency, students need to engage in critical thinking so often it becomes a habit.Recently new programs have sprung up that aim to teach critical thinking skills through online games revolving around fantasy football or issues like “student life.” There's even an "education edition" of the video game Minecraft.Is this current crop of initiatives any more likely to produce the kind of critical thinking that is vital to the continued functioning of democracy? First, critical thinking isn’t a skill that just gets better with practice, like riding a bike or playing tennis.Granted, that won't produce results in time for this week's elections, or even 2020. We need to start overhauling our educational system as though our democratic system of government depended on it.Because the fact is, it very well might."With the proliferation of unreliable “news”—and the danger it poses to the democratic process—it’s more important than ever for schools to cultivate students’ ability to think critically. In this election season, commentators have been calling on educators to teach critical thinking.Even when elementary students are reading, the focus is on illusory comprehension skills—like “making inferences” or “determining author’s purpose”—rather than on the content of the text.(Not only does this approach fail to build knowledge, it doesn’t even achieve its intended objective of fostering reading comprehension.