Monday, November 09, 2009

Critical Thinking

Last summer my friend Erin brought up the problem she has with teaching her kids to think critically about the subjects they were studying. We talked a bit about how it's a slow process, and how she's doing all the right things to help the kids begin to see things from the right perspective ... as opposed to absorbing whatever line the textbook company throws at them.

This weekend I realized something else: if they absorb The Party Line when they're little, it's not going to do them major harm -- especially if Mom and Dad are helping them learn to evaluate in small doses, or asking thought-provoking questions. What hurts is when students are still unquestioningly absorbing the PC spin in their mid- to late teens.

Andrew and I are listening to an audiobook on the Revolutionary War right now. In conjunction with that, we borrowed Liberty's Kids for Maggie (and possibly for solidifying names, dates, places for Andrew and me). I knew the video would be from the perspective that the Founding Fathers were flawless heroes. I was a little uneasy with that, but finally decided that first we need to learn the facts stories, and then we can evaluate what the different sides believed.

Turns out that I was not impressed with Liberty's Kids. I know it works great for some families. For our purposes, with the ages of our kids, there wasn't enough information to bother with the time spent watching the show. I wasn't surprised by the winner-writes-the-history perspective, and wasn't surprised by the number of women and minorities in the stories. But I was very surprised at how peripheral the Boston Tea Party was to the episode on the Boston Tea Party. Thinking it might be a fluke, we watched the next episode. But the only thing we learned about the Coercive Acts was that British soldiers were quartered in colonists' homes; the other 95% of the show was irrelevant for our purposes.

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