How about teaching children to think critically? (Part II)

Andrew McKie, the Telegraph’s obituary writer, criticises the National Union of Teacher’s (NUT) attempts to support a boycott of material provided by the Army for schools. The NUT has suggested these attempts amount to “propaganda” and will require teachers to show a biased view of the Iraq invasion.

I have no problem with people wanting to join the armed forces (I’ll confess I considered a career as an army engineer), and McKie goes to great lengths to point out that armed forces in Britain serve at the behest of the democratically-elected government. Thus, “enterprises which have been fundamentally ill-conceived by politicians” are not to be blamed on the Army, Royal Navy or the RAF. But he is missing the point.

For a start, “I was only following orders” is not really a defence of these “fundamentally ill-conceived enterprises” is it? Secondly, who does McKie think is to blame for abuses committed by armed forces personnel and does he suggest teaching about these abuses to children too? And lastly, will children be taught that even the most “well-conceived enterprises” involves bombing and killing people, often children of similar ages to them, who have little to do with fighting?

The novel thing, of course, would be to provide children with the skills that would allow them to think about critically about different subjects. Then again, based on McKie’s recent foray into the philosophy of religion, I am not surprised he decided to simply thump the table harder than his opponents.

Related:
MoD parachutes propaganda into classrooms attempting to rewrite the Iraq debacle

How about teaching children to think critically?

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2 Responses to “How about teaching children to think critically? (Part II)”


  1. 1 Aasem Bakhshi March 26, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Even if we try hard enough to teach children think critically, it is amazingly impossible to produce critically thinking soldiers. In almost all armies of the world, ‘critical thinking’ is not a quality of a good soldier.

  2. 2 edtajchman March 27, 2008 at 5:21 am

    I see your point, so if we allow this material to be presented, than I would demand equal time and want groups like UNICEF, or other peace devoted groups to speak and present information as well.


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