Teaching Them to Think, Question, Wonder

Image from Britannica ImageQuest

Today’s students are not taught to think for themselves, to question things or even to think outside of the box to solve problems.  I won’t go into my rant against the American educational system here because, well, it makes me angry and when I’m angry I tend not to be particularly P.C. and have been known to say things that offend.  What I will say is that it’s a shame that we are raising sheep.

I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian fiction lately (see some of my older posts).  There’s some really great stuff out there!  I have noticed that they all have 2 main things in common. They all have divided societies…one is strict and controlling and the other is against those controls.  They all have young characters who are either a part of the strict society who realize how bad it is or who are from the outside fighting the strict society.  What I find interesting about these two points is that the two societies mirror our own American culture and it’s not difficult at all to imagine that any of these stories could ACTUALLY happen.

Now back to my gripe about our students not thinking…I was talking with a colleague and she was saying that her 8th grade students merely parrot their parents’ political and social views without thinking about what they actually mean.  Even many of our high school students do this.  They don’t seem to be the least bit interested in finding out what other opinions or viewpoints might be.  What this means is that they will be sheep when they grow up…following whatever party line along which they were raised.  They don’t question the news or what the “journalists” say.  They aren’t curious about whether what someone says is true or not.  They are basically like me before my curiosity was awakened.

I woke up rather suddenly a few years ago when my very wise mother challenged my thinking about the presidential candidates.  I began watching different news shows and learning, for myself, how politics worked.  I began to question everything that any politician said (they occasionally all lie, by the way).  Anyway, when I read Hunger Games,(I’m RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED about the movie coming out this week!!!) my curiosity exploded.  I read voraciously and began seeing the patterns I mentioned earlier.  I also began to recognize people…well, perhaps not actual people but certainly personality types and specific group dynamics.  That really made me watch what was going on around me even more closely.  While I’m reading, I’m actively asking questions. Sometimes I even go online to look something up to check against something I’ve just read.  Of course, I’m a librarian and do this with most every kind of book I read but my point is that our students are much less likely to do so.

So basically, I highly recommend the reading of dystopian novels or any book that will wake up our students and make them begin to think about the world outside of their home or school.

Students: Question everything!  If you come across something you don’t understand or don’t agree with, find out about it, look it up, learn something new that will help your argument or, perhaps, (GASP!!!) change your mind.  Education is NOT elitist.  It should focus on teaching the basics, certainly, but also teach our children to look around and not swallow every idea that comes around without a second glance. If we don’t do this then the we might just wake up in a world along side Katniss or Cassia (Matched) or Ember Miller (Article 5) .  I can promise you that it won’t be a pleasant place!

DOWN WITH SHEEP (except for making those luscious sweaters, blankets and coats that keep us warm).



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