“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for critical thinking.” – Leo Tolstoy
January 30, 2022
As we look around the world and think about what we want to teach our children, I would hope that critical thinking skills fall into the curriculum. I don’t mean using critical thinking skills to pass a test, or to engage in academic endeavors. I am referring to using critical thinking skills to ensure that one lives a life that is in alignment to whatever their heart truly values.
That can be quite the task because in our current society we are trained to defer the thinking to others (who supposedly know more about our needs than we do). We defer to teachers to tell us if we are allowed to have high self esteem or not based on how we perform in school. We even defer to “experts” to manage the bodies that we are inhabiting.
In some circles it’s seen as strange for someone to want to know their own body and emotions because someone else is supposed to tell them why they feel sad, or what they should eat. If someone dares to educate themselves, they are told they are not qualified to know what they personally need. I ask- how can we have critical thinking skills if we aren’t allowed to think? We’ve replaced thinking and reasoning with deferment to some sort of guru who eliminates our personal responsibility to ourselves.
Yet, the past is the past way of being. As we move into the future, I hope that we see more discussions on personal responsibility, self-leadership, and individuality within a unified situation. This can certainly be applied to the way we view education.
I use to frequent a message board where professors would sometimes post student responses and judge them as “wrong” simply because the student didn’t answer the question the way the instructor wanted him or her to. They attribute this to laziness or some sort of intellectual flaw. In some cases perhaps that was true.
But there was also the issue of rigidity and the need to control students’ thought-processes. If a teacher is afflicted with these conditions then he or she may not see a students true gifts and talents.
There’s a common saying that teachers shouldn’t teach students what to think, but they should teach them how to think. I disagree with that. In my opinion, students should be encouraged TO think- as in to think for themselves and ask questions. How they actually choose to do that is not a process to be molded an external party. No one can tell someone else how to perceive anything.
To illustrate this point here is an internet meme:
Let’s apply this to a classroom setting.
In math class if a student solves a problem, shows their work, and gets the correct answer should it be marked wrong because they did not solve it the way they were taught in class? I guess that depends on if the lesson is actually about math problem-solving skills, or if the lesson is about conformity.
Kate Desmond writes , that “if we start marking right answers wrong, we might discourage a kid too early. If 5×3 is 15 (but only if you got there the right way), then …are we going to lose them before they even get to the really challenging math like calculus?” 
Overall, I believe that if we want to encourage our children to be critical thinkers, then we must be people who think critically. Otherwise it’s just giving lip service to buzzwords.
Liz Willen wrote about how buzzwords, or “edu-speak” can be harmful. She writes, “It’s not just educators who are to blame. The federal government is most certainly guilty as well for creating an alphabet soup of acronyms that bogs down stories about national education policy with explanations and parentheticals about what all the abbreviations mean before readers ever get to the point of whether the policies are actually working”. 
The takeaway is that “critical thinking skills” does not have to become a meaningless term. Because if we are critical thinkers, then that will naturally be reflected in how we interact with others and the types of work that we produce. When we become what we seek to teach, then it just is. That’s how energy works.
The intent of this newsletter is to increase awareness of available educational options in order to encourage environments where students can align to their true gifts and talents.
When people are aligned to their true nature and in touch with their loving hearts, they are able to co-create a harmonious world.
Remember to love yourself and to always follow your inner guidance. Therefore, take what resonates and discard the rest.
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