Right Turn: Teaching kids critical thinking skills

Author: Stacey Johnson, 09/01/17

I love kids. Their curiosity, passion and enthusiasm for life are infectious. With two teenagers at home, kids and school are very much on my mind right now. (I have a habit of blogging about back-to-school, as you can read here and here.)

Because kids are so curious, they constantly explore the world around them. Young ones do this through their senses, especially touch. Older kids explore with their minds and the internet is a wonderful tool for this, but it needs to be used carefully. Parents, guardians and teachers can’t (and shouldn’t) monitor children’s screen time 24/7. Instead, they should teach critical thinking skills and media literacy, something that certainly happens in the school setting. In the age of fake news and pseudoscience, how can we guide our kids? Perhaps it starts by knowing that they can learn this at a young age.

Read this great article by Julia Belluz of Vox. She shares a little about her own growing awareness of, as she puts it, “detecting bull.” She writes, “My eyes were opened in my early 20s, when I met a group of researchers at McMaster University in Canada. They taught me about the limitations of different kinds of evidence, why anecdotes are often wildly misleading, and what a well-designed study looks like. This experience changed how I see the world.”

Then she goes on to describe a Ugandan trial, of more than 15,000 kids mostly aged 10-12, that was testing the efficacy of  “teaching materials, lesson plans and cartoon-filled workbooks […] about the reliability of medical treatments.” The trial was co-led by Sir Iain Chalmers, co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration. According to him, the goal of the teaching materials etc., is to “detect bullshit when bullshit is being presented to them” A worthy goal in an age where we are constantly being bombarded by information. If you’d like to read the results of the trial, they are published in The Lancet. To see some of the teaching materials, click on Julia’s article above.

Here is a video related to the trial that you can watch with the children in your life.

 

 

Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at)ccrm.ca. We encourage you to be creative and use the right (!) side of your brain. We dare you to make us laugh! Right Turn features cartoons, photos, videos and other content to amuse, educate and encourage discussion.

As always, we welcome your feedback in the comment section.

 

 

 

 

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Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

For almost 20 years, Stacey has been providing strategic communications counsel to government, corporate, technology and health organizations. Prior to that, Stacey was at the CTV Television Network, first as a researcher, then as a story producer for “Goldhawk Fights Back,” a special ombudsman segment that aired weekly on the National News and Canada AM. Before joining CCRM as the Director, Communications and Marketing, Stacey was the Director of Communications for the Canadian Arthritis Network. Stacey is editor of Signals. You can follow Stacey on Twitter @msstaceyerin.
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