Julie Bogart shares five key insights from her book about how to help kids with critical thinking. Personally, I think we’ve lost the ability to critically think in general, so I will definitely suggest you go read all 5 even if you don’t have kids. Because we ALL need to be better at this.
But, it was number 2 that really got my attention:
“2. Get in the habit of asking: “Says who?”
Any time your child reads a book or watches a film, it’s a great idea to identify who’s telling the story. The storyteller shapes the interpretation. When we forget that there could be other storytellers with different perspectives, we sometimes overvalue the default narrator.”
We tend to read a book, a story, an article and forget to ask this question. Especially when the subject matter upsets us in some way. The easiest way to short circuit the reader’s critical thinking skills is to get them to feel outraged about something. When we feel that outrage, we forget to ask this very basic question, and we act instead of thinking.
On social media, we share. Usually adding some statement of our outrage. We encourage others to act. We encourage our leaders to “do something” about this outrage.
We don’t stop and ask ourselves who is telling this and why they are telling us this. We forget that the thing we read was designed to make us outraged and create the feeling that we need to do something about it by the people who favor doing that thing in the first place.
It’s too easy to forget this question. It’s too easy to not dig in deeper and consider why I am seeing this and what the writer wants us to feel and do, and why that might impact what they write and how they write it.
We would do well with more of this question and a deeper analysis of “says who” and less outrage. They won’t make it easy for us to do that, so we will have to do it for ourselves, and we’re going to have to teach the next generation.
Otherwise we will continue to see social media eat away at our mental health instead of being a tool that could help it by providing us with a community of people with shared interests.