Critical Thinking — In School?

March 7, 2007

Schools should teach critical thinking, not obedience

By Ross T. Runfola
Buffalo News

Public schools should stop stressing socialization to the neglect of fostering critical thinking, autonomy and creativity in students. Generally, public schools do not encourage enlightened dissent but a deadened passivity where students blindly accept teachers’ instruction as irrefutable fact.

Howard Zinn recognizes this in “A People’s History of the United States,” where he finds: “Control in modern times more than force — more than law — requires the special task of educators to preserve the culture, not to transform it.” As a result we have an educational system that is more a purveyor of societal norms than a vehicle where students have the freedom to disagree, and give sound reasons for their position.

Education should begin, not end, when a teacher presents information. But the best students are usually defined by teachers as those who agree with them and are robot-like on exams and oral discussion, giving back to the teacher the same information he/she originally gave the student.

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