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Am I just being old fashioned (expecting students to learn to think critically)?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by hiberno1, Nov 15, 2015.

  1. hiberno1

    hiberno1 New commenter

    I feel like we do an awful lot of talking in teaching about thinking critically but do not take the opportunity to make students really do this.
    I have taught across a number of humanities based disciplines in 10 years and continue to be appalled at how students copy and paste from the internet especially for homework projects,often failing to differentiate between their own judgement and that of the source they have "read".
    I feel that we should be encouraging students to use the library, cross reference sources, consider the possibility that some sources and the points of view within them may be biased/incorrect (and not just when teaching history), and be able to synthesise information (which is not the same for Yr 7 as Yr 12 obviously).
    I find that students are very resistant to library use (even in the upper school and even when I put the books aside for them_ I try to do this as a research starting point for all Yr groups).
    I really don't think that it is impossible for students to learn to think for themselves, even in Yr 7. It concerns me that students are so dependant on the internet and are so uncritical of the sources they find? Am I being ridiculous wanting the students to do targeted reading for a particular homework/class project (especially over a long period of time) ? Is there simply no point in assessing a range of sources some of which may not be on the internet?
    I would love to hear different points of view
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I agree with you. Teachers should teach students to use a variety of sources for their research and study and not just copy and paste from the web pages they find on Google. This may explain the reason so many students struggle at university when they suddenly realise that copying and pasting is not going to be sufficient since universities now have sophisticated software which can detect plagarisim quite easily.

    As a supply teacher for six years I have seen many lessons where students have been given tasks to research on the internet and clearly most of the work produced is copied and pasted - not all, but a a significant amount.
  3. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    Perhaps start within the classroom itself with a debate/discussion, then move to the library with a very hands-on approach, e.g. why does this site say this, etc. Until we show them how, then perhaps they simply won't process and analyse. I always say that it's easy to memorise and regurgitate but what is really valued is analysis, interpretation and creativity.
    Dragonlady30 and minnie me like this.
  4. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I suspect that this is because teachers have been drilled to teach to the test. They are reluctant to go 'off piste ' because time spent in class and on task is precious and they are accountable for their results. As a result students are nailed to desks - often passive and recipients of knowledge which just maintains the status quo re exam results which depend on learning by rote. Plenty of students out there who are articulate, creative and talented but often not just great at ' memorising stuff ' - what is in it for them ? Employers want students who can problem solve , use information, are team players and good communicators - where do students practice /learn these skills if not at school ?
    sabrinakat likes this.
  5. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    So it's kosher if it's printed on paper?

    Just a case of teaching them how to write an essay/present an argument. If you used a source then you ensure you refer to it in footnotes. Also use phrases such as 'According to Blah in Blah....".

    Then, when you wrap up your conclusion, you state that contrary to accepted opinion it is your view that rhubarb rhubarb. You don't need a library to cross-check or find a range of resources. How many libraries are up-to-date these days? Expenditure on libraries is about sixpence three-farthings these days.
  6. oHelzo

    oHelzo Occasional commenter

    Elements of this are possible for all children. Healthy debate, either written or spoken, is essential for life as much as education. And it's the how as much as the what. This whole thing is a skill that must be taught.

    Do you have time in your lessons to take ten minutes here and there to discuss what might be a good source and why? To show them examples of respected sources and the governance they go through? To discuss with students how they might write a paragraph into their own sentence? To show how to quote and reference rather than copy and paste? To compare and contrast opposing views?

    Structured research and debate can really open up some of the complex ethical dilemmas of our times. Good luck :)
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  7. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    We had a similar debate back "old TES" days. There was some mocking of those of us old enough to have had to learn the contents of the book, which isn't now necessary in these days of Google.
    Paper based libraries are not what they were, and many youngsters are reluctant to read much. Oh, how I do not miss the "everyone must read for 1/2 hour" tutor periods.
    In science, we used to do case studies as part of our controlled assessments where sourcing alternative viewpoints to science / ethics debates was a key element. It should have been good, but it was an uphill battle.
    Critical thinking is important. It's a bit like maths in that some people "get it" straight away, while others haven't a clue what's going on and why you need to do it.
  8. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    'Over half of 12-15s make some kind of critical judgement about search engine results Over half of 12-15s agree that some sites listed by a search engine will be truthful while others may not be (52% vs. 45% in 2013), and although one in five 12-15s still believe that if a search engine lists a result it must be truthful, this is less likely than in 2013 (20% vs. 32% in 2013).

    The changes in these findings suggest an increase in critical awareness of the truthfulness of online information.

    (Ofcom, Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report, October 2014.)

    Still, appalling.

    I am afraid that the public library system to which I had access as a child is lost to us. They are now entertainment centres. The only place to find a library these days is a university.
  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    In some schools, students are not able to work silently on their work for even 10 minutes. They think they have an entitlement to talk endlessly for 60 -75 minutes while they doodle, throw paper, play games on their ipad, or update their wish list on Argos.

    I've seen classes where it would be close to impossible to get the groups quiet long enough to do anything meaningful in terms of critical thinking or writing. I hate to be so negative, but in some schools it is a lost cause: copy and pasting is all they know and the people who could make changes i.e. SLT won't because they don't have the resolve or they simply don't know what to do.
  10. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    The legacy of constructivist Primary education.

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