Teach Kids How to Think, not What to Think

In my experience, public schools tend to teach kids what to think rather than how to think. This is a serious problem! This type of teaching will mass produce a bunch of robots unable to form an original thought. Harsh? I don’t think so. We need to guide our children’s minds, not program them.

The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think – rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with thoughts of other men.

Bill Beattie


I really love this quote. It wraps up my complete learning and teaching philosophy fairly well! I want my children to be able to form their own opinions on things. I want them to be able to weigh each side of an issue and make an informed decision, and be able to choose what is right and what is wrong.

What I don’t want is a group of children that blindly follow somebody without understanding why. I don’t want children who believe everything they are told, regardless of the source, without researching the matter thoroughly. I believe our world is filled with enough people like this.

So how do we teach our children to think for themselves, instead of blindly following the masses? I do it by discussing things with them. Finding similar situations in history and teaching what happened in those situations. I play devil’s advocate when we’re talking about a topic. This basically involves simply pointing out every possible side of an issue and asking them what they think about it.

I avoid merely teaching about a topic. When we discuss a history lesson, for example, we discuss what happened, why it happened, what led up to it, what would have happened if…I believe this type of learning helps a child make smarter decisions, even in today’s world.

What about you? Do you want the kind of child who considers every angle of a situation before they make a decision? How do you teach your children to think, rather than what to think?