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Promoting critical thinking in classroom

BY DONALD L. EWERT Published: March 7, 2012

At issue are not the facts of science but their interpretation to promote particular agendas. The average citizen is ill-equipped to make this distinction. The media are often complicit in the misuse of science for their own agendas by repeating claims without balanced analysis.

How does the average citizen know when he's being manipulated by the misuse of scientific information? It can start in the classroom where critical thinking skills are taught and where facts of science are distinguished from rhetoric and philosophical, religious interpretations. This can only happen when teachers and students are free to enter into open discussion of all views on a controversial subject. To do that, students and teachers must have the freedom to engage in discussions of controversial issues without the threat of repercussions from parents or administrators.

The bills before the Legislature take an important step toward creating an environment where critical thinking skills can be developed in the classroom. We must stop educating our children to behave like sheep, but rather as critical thinkers who can make good decisions for society.

Ewert, of Edmond, is a research scientist.