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To All People, But Especially Educators: Please Think Critically

About 17 years ago, I went to see a chiropractor who came highly recommended to help alleviate back pain I’d been experiencing. I was surprised when the chiropractor chose to use “applied kinesiology” with me rather than traditional spinal manipulation. I had never heard of applied kinesiology and was open to anything that might help me, but when this chiropractor had me raise my arm and resist the pressure he applied to it to “test” various things, and then told me what foods I should and shouldn’t eat and what people I should and shouldn’t avoid based on whether my arm went down or stayed rigid upon his application of pressure, I was stunned that he was serious. I never went back to this chiropractor and marveled that someone had really charged me $80 to do something so ridiculous.

About ten years passed and suddenly this “applied kinesiology” was everywhere and friends of mine swore by it. I’ve learned not to be surprised by such things any more. We people believe all sorts of unsubstantiated things, constantly suspending our critical thinking. Much of the time there is no real harm done, and because our minds and bodies are so intertwined, believing that a practitioner will help us increases the likelihood that we’ll be helped measurably. But I worry about a populace that so readily believes nonsense and passes it off as fact, and I feel strongly that educators must be among the best critical thinkers because, more than anyone, teachers shape the future.

There is a desperate need for good critical thinking among the generation poised to solve – or not solve – the complex challenges before us. So this is my plea to teachers: teach your students to be critical and creative thinkers above all else, and refuse to let yourself be duped. Model the critical thinking your students need to possess themselves.

(For those who want to see a demonstration that debunks applied kinesiology, take a look at this YouTube video.)

For a thinking populace,

Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of The Power and Promise of Humane Education and Most Good, Least Harm

Image courtesy of critical thinking asylum via Creative Commons.

About zoeweil

I'm the co-founder and President of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE). IHE works to create a world in which we all live humanely, sustainably, and peaceably. We do this by training people to be humane educators who teach about the pressing issues of our time and inspire people to work for change while making healthy, humane, and restorative choices in their daily lives. We also work to advance the field of humane education, and to provide tools and inspiration to people everywhere so that they can live examined, meaningful lives. I'm also a writer. So far I've written six books and several articles.


2 thoughts on “To All People, But Especially Educators: Please Think Critically

  1. I absolutely agree. I find that kids are afraid to have their own thoughts and opinion nowerdays. They are so used to being told what to do and what is right and wrong. I put a strong emphasis on critical thinking and inquiry. I absolutely recommend it.

    Posted by Michael G. | December 27, 2010, 5:36 am
  2. In our schools, critical thinking skills features on all timetables for children aged 7 and over. The need to be able to think critically, to evaluate and form a judgement on sources of information will be a vital skill for tomorrow’s adults so we need to start teaching these skills today. With the Curriculum for Excellence being used in Scotland to deliver education, the focus is not on the answer but how we arrive at it. We are less concerned with the facts children include in a project than why they chose their preferred information and how they can rely on its source.
    The potential for links across the curriculum here, from science into literacy into maths and beyond are creating for our youngsters some of the most exciting learning opportunities I have seen.
    We as educators however must not fall short and should ensure that the learning materials we use and the pedagogies we empoly are chosen with just as critical an eye.

    Posted by jenmcnicol | December 27, 2010, 2:41 pm

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