Tag Archives: MLK

How I create a culture of critical thinking

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/yovenice/5353326350/

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/yovenice/5353326350/

At our school we have an orientation week and run a round robin schedule where we have a group of students for the whole morning. I like to introduce students to myself and class with some research. So I had students look at the site martinlutherking.org (no longer functioning, thankfully). I had them answer some questions about it on a Google Form. Some groups took it serious and studiously read it and answered the questions (you know a teacher asked them to do this so they comply mindlessly). Other groups were pretty quick to question the validity of the information. I asked those groups to find evidence that it was “fake.”

Eventually in all classes we used http://www.radcab.com/ to talk about how to evaluate sources. Students looked more carefully and discovered the site was created by StormFront, a white supremacist group. They also looked up one of the “experts” David Duke and found out that he was formerly Grand Wizard of the KKK. This led to an excellent discussion about bias. We also dispelled the myth that a site is “good” if it is .org or .gov.

I had one student who bought the whole thing as legit who was really surprised that he was tricked. When he found out it made a huge impression on him and he will not fall for something like this again. Another student told our secretary it was one of her best learning experiences at our school.

I left them with the thought that they should doubt and test everything. I told them, “If your mother says she loves you, ask for her sources.” I love setting a tone for our class of critical thinking and questioning to start the year. I want students to expect the unexpected in our class and to look critically at everything.