Monday, October 27, 2008

Teaching Children Critical Thinking

In both my teaching sessions yesterday, conversation was hot and heavy about the Presidential elections. One fifth grade boy was evangelistic in his support of Obama. “McCain’s going to bomb America,” he said, “Vote for Obama.” His other reasons for supporting Obama? Everyone but one child in his fifth grade class supports Obama. McCain is old and going to die. McCain is going to prosecute doctors. “What does that mean anyway?” he asked. When I tried to explain what prosecution meant, that it means bringing to justice people who have committed crimes, the boy was unphased. McCain was still a heel.

It’s not my place in this blog to give my personal opinion about a candidate. That’s not the focus of this column. What I am concerned about is that our children are not being taught to think. I have to wonder, what is going on inside the classroom of this young man? What are his teachers saying? Where is he getting his information? Does anyone have the guts to correct his wrong information?

It’s easy to base our choices and reactions on one piece of information. I was guilty of it just this morning. I heard the statistic that “90% of babies found to have Down’s Syndrome are aborted." How frightening, I thought. I was ready to write a column about the evils and tragedy of abortion. First I checked my facts and found that I didn’t have the whole story. Okay, stop and think with me. 90% of inutero babies tested to have Down’s Syndrome are aborted. How many babies are born with Down’s Syndrome whose mothers have never received the testing? The percentage probably goes way down. As my friend, creationist John Clayon says, “Think, think, think!”

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I believe fully in the sanctity of life. I am a champion of the disabled. Weakness of any form does not calibrate the value of a human being. In my humble opinion, no baby should be aborted no matter what prenatal testing reveals about its health and well being. Aborting shows a lack of trust in God to provide for His creation. Yet, I, like any one else, need to be sure I substantiate my position with accuracy.

I love the quote from Ronald Regan, “Trust but verify.” We need to teach our children to be critical thinkers, to question what we hear, to decide with our brains as well as our hearts. We need to hold up the twisted truth we hear on the streets to the ramrod straight measuring stick of God’s word to see how it compares.

How will I think through my decision on November 4th? I’ll hold the issues up against God’s word. What does God’s word say about the sanctity of life, the sacredness of marriage, the importance of personal responsibility, the respect due those who differ from us, the defense of justice and the imperative to stand firm against evil? I’ll choose the candidate whose platform is the least crooked compared to the Bible. Then, as the Bible commands, I will pray fervently for that man that he might bring peace, justice and safety to our country.


Judith Coran said...

I remember when President Clinton was running for re-election in '96. My son and daughter came home from school with some derogatory little chant about "no more Clinton in '96." Children won't respect the office of the President unless they see adults in their lives modeling it for them. In fact where is our respect for each other.

Karen Wingate said...

Well said! Along with critical thinking skills, teachers need to teach respect for others. This is a skill that needs to be taught by all teachers; public, private, homeschool, and Sunday School. it's Scriptural. It's part of our Declaration of Independence. The founding fathers never intended free speech to be devoid of respect.

Crystal Laine Miller said...

This is well said and demonstrates what you teach, too. Thoughtful. I passed this on to friends.

Critical thinking has gone along the wayside and many people are thinking with emotion, but no critical thought and no moral compass.

My son, a senior in HS, is being persecuted at lunch and he is not even saying who he thinks would make a better president. They persecute him for asking critical questions! And that is what is more scary--to be harassed for asking questions.

Keep fighting the good fight.