Missions, the contemporary school has lots of them which over time are added, sometimes at the risk of eclipsing what Jean-Michel Blanquer calls ” The fundamentals “. Among them, there is one which, without directly touching the “reading, writing, counting, respecting others” dear to the Minister, is proving to be the most fundamental. Because it aims to prevent mistakes that could lead to fundamentalism. This mission is to teach critical thinking. Not to instill it but to allow the students to experience it, to put it into practice, to understand it both as a frame of mind and as a goal to be achieved, with all the rigor, determination and modesty required.
→ VIDEO. How do young people get information?
This issue, at the heart of Press and Media Week at school, sounds like an injunction that comes back, haunting, with each new attack, as soon as it is blamed on indoctrination and obscurantism. It is above all a challenge because it requires going against the grain of a whole section of society, quick to swallow fake news and to show its mistrust of institutions – schools and the media included.
Teach critical thinking
A challenge also because the very term critical thinking is a source of misunderstanding. At a time when all opinions, even superficial ones, are equal, where the authority conferred by knowledge has lost its legitimacy, some might believe the critical spirit synonymous with an all-out challenge, a skepticism of all the time, without a constructive aim. Indispensable to any philosophical or civic approach, it is in reality quite another thing.
To teach critical thinking is to teach the pupil to distinguish what derives from science from what derives from belief, however respectable it may be. It is to help him to question with humility his own convictions, to scrutinize them in the light of knowledge, to confront them with those of others in a serene, supported, fruitful dialogue. It is to bring him to understand the mechanisms underlying conspiracy theories (promise of truth, unverifiable information, single cause claiming to explain everything, feeling that we are given to be part of the initiates, etc.).
Encourage them to slip into the shoes of journalists
It is also, of course, to decipher the functioning and contribution of the media, however imperfect they may be, by insisting on the cross-checking of sources and on the collective work of proofreading, verification, which is lacking in any isolated Internet user, even in good faith.
→ READ. Media education, high school students in the shoes of journalists
Here again, the organizers of Press and Media Week at school have understood it well, it is not enough to put newspapers in the hands of students by giving them keys to reading. It is also about encouraging them to slip into the shoes of journalists by creating their own media for schoolchildren, college students, high school students.
Controlled with or without recourse to the adults of the establishment, their magazines, radio broadcasts and other Internet sites are all opportunities for expression. But their interest is even greater when they offer a space in which to faithfully reproduce the word of the other, where to create an argued debate, where to produce reliable information, by distinguishing the facts from their comments … In short, where to learn actively, to playful way, with curiosity and critical thinking.