Teaching critical thinking in schools?

Given my training in SGRT I'm interested in how critical thinking, call it rational management if you will, could be encouraged. In particular, now that I have children of my own, I'm wondering why problem solving, decision making and critical thinking in general is not taught in schools.

Lots of "joining the dots" here, I found a letter in New Scientist that suggests we should. Lynn Stoppelman, Reston, Virginia, US wrote:

... Improving risk literacy is more complicated than switching off the TV. To encourage more people to use rational, less emotional decision-making we must train youngsters in critical thinking skills before fearfulness born of insecurity becomes habitual - not wait until the last year of high school or the first year of college. Conscious parenting focused on raising secure infants who have benefited from a healthy attachment to a parental figure remains the fundamental way to ensure a clear-thinking society.

The original article requires a New Scientist subscription and is well worth a read.

There was a related article in the Guardian's "This column will change your life" by Oliver Burkeman which covered similar ground and is a shorter read - it gets to the point though:

... The researchers' basic point is this: when we lack definite information, we make very poor judgments, and we do so in predictable ways. ... The findings of Kahneman et al suggest a different approach: rather than trying to change that feeling in your gut from negative to positive, learn to be sceptical of your gut feeling, whether it's negative or positive - because there's good reason to believe your focus is completely wrong. (There are sound evolutionary explanations for why we ended up this way, but our brains were designed for an environment in which we no longer live.)

Fascinating stuff.


Update: Turns out there's a non-profit organization that supports the teaching of the basic KT principles in schools, check out http://www.tregoe.org/. Looks like it's aimed at teenagers - pass it on.

Comments:

Critical thinking is taught in schools. Some schools if it compulsory in the 6th form and in some it is offered in the 4th form to students identified as "gifted and talented". It leads to an A/S level which in turn leads to an A level.

Posted by Chris Gerhard on September 30, 2008 at 05:37 AM BST #

You are correct and this is especially true in the US. The tin foil crowd will tell you that the Illuminati, etc. planned it this way to ensure our population would make docile and unquestioning worker bees to supply the industry cogwheel. I say its because of the mediocrity of the US public schools, teaching to the test and all that rot. If you are lucky, you may have one or two instructors in public school who can get some lessons in problem solving and critical thinking. But its not baked in to the curriculum by any means. I think SGR/Kepner-Tregoe Decision Model for kids is a great idea! You could make it into a sort of detective game or CSI or something like that.

Posted by conspiratorial theory on September 30, 2008 at 05:39 AM BST #

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