R.I.P. Critical Thinking

This week we took a deeper look at whether or not schools should teach anything that can be googled. As a class, we debated this topic, through discussion, while considering facts that, yes, had been found where else, but on the net. We weren’t just instructed to read articles online though. We made connections to our teaching practices, examined realities of the consequences of moving education in this direction, and took the time to really think about how this would impact students of different ages, demographics and abilities.

After the debates, I took some time to read the articles from both teams and came to the conclusion that I do believe that schools should teach things that can be googled. However…. I feel very strongly, that we maintain the perspective that “googling” and “internet use” remain single strategies to learning. We must also acknowledge the flaws that come with using these resources and teach students to proceed with caution. As William R. Klemm mentioned in his article, the internet is constantly flawed with error and propaganda, and is not always accessible.

The big zinger for me in this week’s debates was the apparent impact that the “Google Affect” can have on critical thinking.

When I think about my classroom full of 6 and 7 year olds, I see our learning as something messy. I see curiosity leading their learning. We ask questions, we explore, and we think critically about the information that we gather. Sometimes we take that information and we memorize things while incorporating actions into silly songs about creatures we learn about. Sometimes our room looks like a bomb went off in a Mardi Gras parade when we are done learning because there are sequences strewn over the floor and textured paper hanging from chairs and tables…. but it is learning, and we are doing it critically, using information we find in the library, through discussions, from the computer, and from using our imaginations. We use our voices, hands, minds, and bodies to inject this learning into spaces in our minds that will inevitably be remembered long past year’s end. If learning can be this way, maybe the kids in my class will remember the lessons that push far beyond learning “just enough”. (Click here for an example of the kind of lesson I am referring to). If we took out all of the learning that we “could” access through googling, I believe that there would be a real gap in our education system. We cannot promote the termination of critical thinking. I’m not sure that is something that our students can afford either.

Slide1 Photo Credit: IslesPunkFan via Compfight cc

Finally, in an article posted by Ben Johnson, he reminds us that the brain is like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger and better it gets at doing its’ job. Memory work helps students to achieve high standards in school. When memory work is done in meaningful and interesting ways, the results can be rewarding.

Let’s continue to strive for excellence in our youth by finding the right combination of educational strategies to promote the highest level of education possible for tomorrow’s future!

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12 thoughts on “R.I.P. Critical Thinking

  1. I agree that we need to teach that some of the tools are flawed and make sure that students know that Google isn’t the be all and end all. We need to teach them to be critical of the information they are finding online and teach them to evaluate it. That is much harder to do with young students than it is for older students, but we can always adapt and make things appropriate and applicable to all ages.

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    1. So true, teaching the little guys this is difficult, but it’s the most important to start teaching students this right from the get go! Great point!

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  2. I love how you preach about balance and mention the flawed nature of the internet. In my classes we push to highlight flaws to make them successes… and sifting through the overwhelming information of Google is learning in and of itself.
    Good post!

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  3. Great blog – it really comes down to the educator making sure that the students utilize some critical thinking. We need to push our kids to ask more of the w’s – if we ask the questions we are directing what to think – they need to ask the questions and direct us how to teach.

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  4. Well said! I agree it truly is about the balance. I found you question interesting – if we took away google – what type of gap would exist? Is it just a content gap or is it a skill gap? i.e. Would students have the skills to find resources in the library, how would they search for information in a book that doesn’t just pop up for them? I also like your comment that the more we work with our memory in meaningful ways the better it will get. You’ve hit the nail on the head, whether it’s searching online or using our memory, the task or reason needs to be purposeful if we are going to fully engage the student.

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