Fighting Fake – 3 reasons why critical thinking skills are important for today’s students
We never fail to emphasize that critical thinking is an important skill for today’s students to learn. However, our children are far more than just the future jobs they’ll be taking. Critical thinking is fundamental to their development as human beings, and will be especially important for them in this new age of unbridled access to information. This blog entry looks at three reasons why critical thinking skills will be important for students in modern society.
1. Fake news
Fake news is a terrible epidemic and it doesn’t look like it will be going away any time soon. It’s unfortunate as well that fake news has robbed media outlets of some their authority, making a lot of news and articles suspect.
Our children will need to hone their analytical thinking abilities, as well as their abilities to verify information from several sources, in order to weed out fake news and get the real story behind any major incident. While objectivity is never attainable in journalism, at least they may uncover the facts and corroborate stories, as well as learn how to identify purposeful misinformation when they see it.
2. Scientific misinformation
In the face of so much scientific evidence and research, people still manage to believe that vaccines cause autism, that the Earth is flat, and that climate change isn’t real. This problem is a combination of insufficient education, and the charisma of many anti-science evangelists who prey on those who may be easily swayed. Our children will need their critical thinking skills to appreciate the scientific method, and to learn how to spot misinformation out there that could lead to false knowledge.
3. Importance of research skills in the Information Age
With analytical and critical thinking skills comes the ability to learn how to search out, collate, and correlate information in a meaningful way. These research skills will be important for our children as the Information Age continues to expand, with such a wealth of information out there that it may be difficult to know where to start. With this freedom to create information on the Web though comes the potential for misinformation, which can lead directly to the above two reasons we’ve mentioned. Our children will need to know how to use this information, and to weed out the misinformation, if they want to be effective not just in the workplace, but in everything they do.
A curriculum for analytical thinking
Swiss International School in Dubai uses the International Baccalaureate curriculum, which vastly prefers teaching and honing critical thinking skills over textbook-based memorization, preparing students for a future where they’ll have access to a lot of information, with the skills to use it wisely.
Shona Tait, Swiss International School Dubai’s PYP Coordinator and Deputy Head of Primary School, believes in the International Baccalaureate’s efficacy as an instrument of learning this sort of thinking. “The IB mission statement highlights the need for learners to ‘understand that other people with their differences, with their differences, can also be right’. It is essential that learners develop their skills to analyze and synthesize to make conclusions for themselves from the early stages of education. Today’s learners are receiving information from a multitude of platforms and perspectives that are open to interpretation. To grow into successful, knowledgeable inquirers who demonstrate integrity they must explicitly learn how to think critically,” she says.
Through SISD’s efforts to enact the IB’s mission in instructing our students, we are committed to creating a new generation of open-minded students who look at the world with a critical perspective, and the willingness to expand their worldviews.