By Douglas B. Reeves
Citizens of widely divergent beliefs regularly come to school board meetings with the expectation that they can exercise their First Amendment rights. As every board member knows, constituents are all entitled to their own opinions. They are not, however, entitled to their own facts. Separating opinion from fact is a particular challenge in education, where emerging research can change yesterday’s facts into today’s fiction.
While critical thinking is perhaps the most important academic skill that students, teachers, and leaders need for the 21st century, I have learned that we sometimes are much better at describing how important critical thinking is than we are at thinking critically.
Board members and school leaders can set an excellent example of critical thinking by reflecting on their own mistakes and what they learned from them. Thus leaders can help learners of all ages, including students, employees, and community members, to consider how our thinking improves with greater levels of experience and evidence.
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