If there was ever a time to appreciate critical thinking, it’s during an election campaign. Politicians yammer in our ears trying to distract us from the issues. They use fear and personal attacks at worst, or reduce complex questions to simple and absurd analogies at best. The media wants quick and sexy sound bites to grab public attention and boost circulation. In the midst of the confusion and clamour, it is vital to focus on the heart of matters. Think about it – do you want the voters to question assumptions, ask probing questions, make informed decisions? Or are you happy with the notion that voters conform, comply and are comfortable with the status quo? Do you want voters who cherish democracy, who participate and agitate to better the world we all inhabit? Or good little robots who march to the polls to fill in the bubble sheet ballot?
Now substitute “students” for “voters” in the previous sentences. Our education system must teach the skills that equip our students to act as influential citizens – personally, locally, nationally and globally. Difficult decisions require, not only intelligence, but the creative ability to use that brain power to analyze and interpret, to predict and perceive.
The children inherit the earth; they will be the ones who mold society in the future. Hope lies in the profound personal and societal belief that an individual can – and should – make a difference. We must be brave enough to fund education appropriately, so the transformation of schools and learning can continue. We must have the grit and determination to identify the dilemmas and paradoxes – those pesky elephants and naked emperors that no one seems to see – that impede this goal and begin to set them right. The kids need us to lead the way.