Human Behavior

Kids Should Learn Critical Skepticism

skeptical kid

Why don’t we teach critical skepticism to kids? I’m not a parent nor do I plan to be one in the future, but I think this might be a helpful suggestion given the world in which we live.

When I was a kid, I remember a teacher of mine once called Martin Luther King Jr. the “good guy” and Malcolm X the “bad guy.” A freaking teacher tried to sell me this, well, childish summary of two civil rights leaders. Sure, this took place in the 80’s when I didn’t have the proper technology at my disposal to record this nonsense and post it to YouTube with the title “Teacher Keeping Kids Dumb SMH.”

SMH indeed.

Actually, no! I will not S my H quietly into the good night, sir or madam! I mean, I didn’t say much back then because I was taught not to speak back to adults (a BS rule in need of a few caveats if I’ve ever heard one given the silliness of some adults). Still, I had the wherewithal to ask my teacher why he was the ‘bad guy.’ She gave me some half-assed answer about him being okay with violence and moved on before my eight-year-old mind could catch up.

That wily devil!

That was a ridiculous example, but much of our world contains people who were not taught to be proper skeptics. Using critical skepticism hardly means you have to be skeptical about everything through and through, but we should totally be training our collective Spidey senses to recognize when someone tries to feed us some ol’ BS.

Even if their heart is in the right place.

I don’t want to treat my belief system, compliance to laws, or views of others who differ from me the way most people treat the terms and conditions of whatever software that’s not-so-secretly stealing their personal information (#capitalism). I make myself open to all information and ask questions to make a decision that works for me. But I have this trait because I’m a stubborn mofo that doesn’t put much stock into unjustified authority. I may have gotten into trouble because if it when I was younger, and it may have lead to POV’s that aren’t super popular with everyone (e.g. we should abolish our current government structure in the US), but at least I trust myself to make well-informed choices without accepting things “just because.”

I know, I know; it’s easy to play the role of an armchair quarterback, but how do you actually put that into practice. Well, I may not be the teacher, but luckily I’ve been a manager, trainer, and life coach. Each of these roles gave me opportunities test people’s level of skepticism. Retrofitting that mindset for kids shouldn’t be too tough if it’s made into a game. Challenge their minds by presenting an open ended situation and seeing what questions they ask. Ask them why they asked certain things and not others. Doing this at an early age can give insight to how they think and process information (making what they think about much less important as well).

This is totally just my point of view so feel free to disagree with it. Otherwise, maybe you can chew on this and see if anything I said works for you. Either way, let me know what you think!

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