In Richard Watson’s new book ‘Future Minds’, he raises all sorts of questions about the way in which our digitised world reduces the use children make of skills in thinking. He also extends this point to the issue of what is taught in schools, worrying that ‘we have created a society in which schools teach children how to pass exams but they don’t generally teach children how to think.’ Critical thinking has a big role to play in restoring the need for evaluation of the significance of claims. When students Google for the material they might use in their work, there is no necessary problem with this search method. But never questioning what they unearth, never considering issues of bias and selectivity, never asking questions of what they still don’t know, will all suppress scepticism and thus proper skills in inquiry. Critical thinking (when properly taught and used – not always the case) will restore the place of both creative and disciplined thinking to children’s approach to inquiry.
In a recent publication by the Brookings Institute, ‘Competencies for the 21st century’, the importance of these competencies has been stressed. As it explains, ‘The