Note: writing is a “hobby” I stopped for the last month due to moving and a new teaching job. The following is part of an assignment for my high school economics and government students. Related: despite my being a National Board Certified Teacher honored by two Los Angeles mayors for being among the city’s best few teachers, I’ve spent two of the last three years unemployed. School districts are forced to cut budgets in response to state funding reductions. California’s Legislative Analyst’s office reports over 30,000 laid-off teachers since 2008 (11% of total teachers) despite increasing student enrollment.

The documentation proving 1% crimes in war and money are here (I do not “teach” children in the direct voice I use in my public civic self-expression).

Critical Thinking Skills in Government and Economics

“The critical habit of thought, if usual in society, will pervade all its mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators … They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence, uninfluenced by the emphasis or confidence with which assertions are made on one side or the other. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices and all kinds of cajolery. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens.”  - William Sumner, former Chair of the Political and Social Science Department, Yale University, Folkways: A study of the sociological importance of usages, manners, customs, mores, and morals. 1907. pg. 633

This Framework proposes that critical thinking skills be taught at every grade level. Students should learn to detect bias in print and visual media; to recognize illogical thinking; to guard against propaganda; to avoid stereotyping of group members; to reach conclusions based on solid evidence; and to think critically, creatively and rationally. These skills are to be taught in a context of a curriculum that offers numerous opportunities to explore examples of sound reasoning and examples of the opposite.” History – Social Studies Framework for California Public Schools, pg. 8.

“This Framework encourages teachers to present controversial issues honestly and accurately within their historical or contemporary context. History without controversy is not good history, nor is such history as interesting to students as an account that captures the debates of the times… Students should also recognize that historians often disagree about the interpretation of historical events and that today’s textbooks may be altered by future research. Through the study of controversial issues, both in history and in current affairs, students should learn that people in a democratic society have the right to disagree, that different perspectives have to be taken into account, and that judgments should be based on reasonable evidence and not on bias and emotion.” History – Social Studies Framework for California Public Schools, pg. 22.

Using critical thinking skills to evaluate policy in government and economics are central to our American way of life. Democracy only functions when citizens are responsible for understanding our most important policies and using their political voice. In addition, voters, juries, and consumers all use critical thinking skills to consider “expert” testimony and evidence with the understanding that the information claimed to be true might be misleading or an outright lie.

Due to Google’s demands for reprints of articles, this is the beginning of the article only. The rest of the article is available here or here.