Poin T/coun TerPoin T |
tracted! Never mind the opportunities
for collaboration that we are quashing.
And so we close the doors to discussions with each other and beyond
the walls of the school. Better to risk
inbreeding of thought than to teach
students how to think for themselves.
What do we allow them to do with
technology? We let them cut and paste
in new and faster ways. We let them
copy information from safe and approved places on the Internet or captive databases. They can type much
longer papers without having to think
as much about editing, as the computer will catch the spelling and most
of the grammar mistakes for them.
We could use the built-in review tools
and let them do peer editing, but that’s
a lot of work, and it’s not on the standardized tests anyway.
We teach them how to use spreadsheets but not how to use them as
powerful evaluative tools. It would
We institute filters and walled gardens around the Internet and pretend to
keep students safe, although all we are protecting them from is thinking
and learning how to evaluate sources.
take a single class to show fourth
graders how to look at the same data
in different graph formats using a
spreadsheet, but we don’t do it. We
treat the data in social studies or science classes as if it had no relevance
to the tools we (sort of) teach them
to use in computer class. We teach
them just enough of PowerPoint to
create exactly the same thing that they
used to create on poster board, but
not how to use it as part of a powerful centerpiece for discussion or real
interactivity. At least they can make
things pretty without having artistic
ability. It’s not the same as a critically
thought-out presentation, but it fits
with the curriculum.
We could teach computer science!
That’s all about critical thinking. But
most schools don’t teach real com-
puter science at all, and fewer than
one in eight high schools have an AP
Computer Science course. Of course,
it’s not on the SAT, is it?
than if they are just developing that
work for the teacher. They suddenly
see their work as much more important and will analyze it to a far higher
level as they prepare for a highly critical global audience. Their work has
meaning because they are contributing to the large community of information on the Web.
Technology also provides opportunities for students to critique their
own work and that of others using
various forms of wikis. They can reflect on their own learning through
blogging and connect globally to gain
new perspectives and learn more than
a textbook could ever offer.
The problem is that technology is
not always used this way in schools.
Technology itself will not develop
critical-thinking skills in our students.
That is the teacher’s role, and although
21st-century technologies are powerful
tools, it is the way the teacher chooses
to use those technologies that will
Students are learning to be highly critical of the information they consume,
and they even analyze, fact-check, and challenge the information the
classroom teacher provides, which is a significant
shift toward critical thinking skills.
determine whether they help or
hinder the development of students’
critical thinking skills. Therefore,
teachers must plan well to ensure that
students use these tools to their full
Teachers who empower students
to take an active part in a wiki, blog,
or other Web 2.0 tools are on the
right track, as these tools encourage
24/7 critical thinking. In fact, some
of these tools demand that level of
thought, because editing, revising,
critiquing, and commenting are an
integral part of their use. As students
do not have to wait until they come
back into the classroom to use these
thinking skills, they become fully
immersed in their learning and even-
tually become lifelong learners who
evaluate information as active con-
sumers of knowledge.