No Child(!) Left Behind

Critical Think!


Knowledge+ Experience+ Common Sense= Critical Thinking!

"Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve." - Roger Lewin


  • Foundation for Critical Thinking

  • Over-Crowded Schools

  • A Step in the Right Direction

  • Lean on Me

  • A Bright Light

  • School Song

  • Why Go to School

  • A Shoulder to Lean On

  • Critical Thinking Skills

  • Teaching to the Test

  • Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover

  • Critical Thinking 101


"The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

The educational facilities of a nation should be places of high importance. Schools should not be short-changed when it comes to government funding or state budgets. With the expectations that society puts upon our teachers to educate our youth, it should not be an issue to at least provide these teachers with the necessary resources to do so.   

Overcrowded Classroom

Some schools recieve excess funding based upon their community income and have the ability to be equipped with the best materials and technology. However, on the other end of the spectrum there are schools who are provided very little funding, and are forced to educate students with the bare minimum of resources. A few questions to consider when thinking about this topic is as follows: Is it fair that because a child is underpriviledged they are more likely to recieve an inferior education? Can a childs success in school simply be determined by what family they're born into? There is a film by the name of "Children in America's Schools", which is both written and directed by Jeffrey Hayden. This film strongly presents the idea of unfair funding and shows the drastic situations some students are forced to overcome just to recieve an education. This video is a good source to witness how extreme differences in school systems can be, and could pose as a strong basis for students to critically think from.

"Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

A big idea or argument in today's teaching world is figuring out how and if teachers should teach material that is outside of the curriculum. There seems to be a big contraversy behind this argument, and are many aspects that need to be looked at in order to come up with a sensible solution. Many articles, journals and studies compare and contrast the positives and negatives of teaching outside material. It seems that teachers are afraid to teach some material that may be offensive to students in their classrooms, or are opposite to the beliefs the parents in the community withhold. It is very common that teachers do not feel comfortable with the material that are expected to teach throughout their class, but are unconfident about stepping out of the bounds of the administration and incorporating the truths behind important subjects about our nation. Despite mass criticism and resistance from many sources, some teachers are taking on the task of teaching material that is unbias and contains details from different point of views about subjects that may have not been presented to students before. The next few generations will be very critical as to how our nations future will go. It will take the support of many avenues to give teachers the confidence they will need to live on the edge and teach the contraversial material that has been frowned upon for numerous year. It will be these teachers that will finally allow our nation to take steps in the right direction, and will hopefully lead to producing a new generation of intillectuals as appose to an upgraded society will ancestrial ideas.

To further understand the point being made on this page, students should check out this article. The Canadian Beaver Confronts the Torpedo Fish: Performing Our Own Philosophy as Educators by Maryann Ayim.

Here is a clip from the movie "Lean on Me", later introduced in the book. This clip represents teachers fears of the administration while others take a stand and teach new material.

Lean on me was a film that hit the scene in the year 1989. This movie written by Michael Schiffer, directed by John G. Avildsen and starring actor Morgan Freeman, was a biographical-drama film that shocked the nation. This movie depicted a lot of the problems that were present within school systems at the time, but suprisingly those problems are still present in school districts today. The movie's main plot is that an elementary school principal was hired to revive a suffering school in which the principal had taught at 20 years before. The elementary school teacher who went by the name of Joe Clark, aka "Crazy Joe" , was elected to lead a school which at this point is now plagued with numerous problems, with drug dealing and gang violence being a big part of the schools problems. The school was one that had very low financial support, was extremely overcrowded, and had teachers who were afraid to go against the administrative grain. The interesting part of the story is that Joe Clark was now given another opportunity to fix the things he had set out to as a teacher at the school, but was shut down by the all white administrators that had a fear of a person of color gaining too much control of a school. This film relates directly to the topics being presented in the rest of the book, making it a great reference.

"Children are not vessels to be filled but lamps to be lit." - SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA, Indian Spiritual Leader

It's important for school administrators to realize that children have the ability to live up to as high of expectations as you put them to. School districts tend to doubt the ability of its students, and in turn only provide materials and curriculums that may limit the childrens potential. It is these limitations that keep our nation from progressing to a point much higher than where we have seemed to plateau. This problem seems to also be prevalent when it comes to classism. In many cases it is fact that schools within highly populated urban areas are given more limitations as far as progressive class work than its surrounding suburbs or towns. Their have been many protests and other methods of resistance to help the case of classism within school systems, but often the efforts go unnoticed or gain no reward. In for the United States to progress as a nation, it will take for all barriers to be broken and all seperations to be pulled together. It is not fair that a students progress in school may be determined firmly on what part of the city they live in is worth to the state.

A strong document that presents these ideas in a clearer manner can be found in the article Still Separate, Still Unequal: America's Educational Apartheid by Jonathan Kozol.

Here's a Video clip from Lean on Me that represents the faith teachers should have in students.

In the movie, Joe clark shows how higher expectations for students can have a great result. Towards the beginning of the film the principal stopped and asked a classroom of students if anyone within the class could sing the school song. To Mr. Clark's disappointment, people who attempted to sing the song were either missing words and phrases, or were singing it with no enthusiasm or school pride. At that point the principal made it a requirement that all of the students in the school must learn the school song by heart, and should be able ro resite it on sight if asked. It is true this put a small burden on the music teacher, although it was a challange that was not outrageous for a music teacher to be able to complete. During a later clip in the movie, Joe found a group of boys hanging out in the bathroom and looked guilty of causing trouble. Before punishing the boys the principal gave them an opportunity to redeem themselves by resiting the school song in full. To the principals suprise, not only did the boys resite the song, but also introduced him to an updated and enthusiastic version which was created by the music teacher he had earlier criticized. This is an example of putting faith in your students' abilities, as well as teachers, and holding expectations that will allow them to grow instead of limiting them.

"Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts." - Albert Einstein

Why Go to School? This is the title of an article by Steven Wolk thats goes over the questions and meanings of why students should go to school. It is important to state to students the importances of attending school, and to compare and contrast the positives that can be gain from a school system as oppose to the situations one may be put in if they do not attend. Although many may agree with these importances, it is first very important to figure out what school truly means. Is the description that people give of it being an educational facility that will teach lessons of life really true? Do schools really represent themselves in the ways we need them too? These are things that often confuse many students and can sometimes influence them to opt out of the school system. Some people may see school as a waist of time, or just in assembly line to becoming the working class. It is very critical that schools keep their actions up to par with high standards, in an attempt to keep the majority believing in the school system.

During the movie Lean on me,  many scenes and images are presented to show what life outside of the classroom might be like for students. In some cases the classroom may be the only safe place students have to go. In other instances a school setting may be the only place a student has time to dream while actually having a belief that dream may come true. The movie is a very powerful reference to show students some of the situations that are possible if they choose not to stay in school. It was an important aspect of the movie to show the negative side of life that occur for students seen in classrooms everyday. It is important that students use movies like these as learning tools in order to keep themselves on track and understand that school is important on many levels.

Here's are scenes from the movie which represents a teacher showing care for its students health and outside life.

Five Steps to conisder when critical thinking:

Analyzing- to examine carefully and in detail so as to identify causes, key factors, possible results, etc.

Reasoning- the process of forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.

Evaluating- to judge or determine the significance, worth, or quality of; assess: to evaluate the results of an experiment.

Problem solving- the area of cognitive psychology that studies the processes involved in solving problems

Decision Making- the cognitive process of reaching a decision; "a good executive must be good at decision making"

A big problem with schools today is that teachers are suggested to teach students to have a goal and reach it, aka getting answers, rather than focusing on the process it takes to reach those goals. Although some teachers may enjoy this system, many have problems with how things are and feel it is the fault of standardized testing. You will often hear people saying the phrase "teaching to the test" when it comes to some teachers teaching methods. In few instances is the just the teachers teaching style, in fact many teachers chose their profession because of their own personal fascination with problem solving or the process of gaining knowledge. In an article written by Sharon L. Nichols & David C. Berliner by the name of How High-Stakes Testing Undermines Public Education and the Teaching Profession, it is described at how this new fascination with test scores can totally change a districts curriculum. Often districts at a time will make drastic changes to their curriculum in an attempt to try and improve students' tests scores on a specific section on a test. Although administrators may believe they are utterly trying to improve their schools rankings, they often seem to realize that they are stripping away the creative bones in both teachers and students. It is important to recieve as high of scores as possible on a standardized test, but it needs to be determined as to what is a reasonable cost to do so.

A key thing to remember when critical thinking is try not to be judgemental about a topic, but instead explore it to the maximum and interpret the meanings and outcomes of every aspect.

As you come to the conclusion of this book you are now one step closer to becoming a critical thinker. Try and remember all of the skills and suggestions that were presented when faced with any new idea or situation. Always keep in mind the 5 steps to critical thinking: Analyzing, Reasoning, Evaluating, Problem solving, and Decision making. Follow these steps and you will always be going in the right direction. Now that Pedro, Emma and Monty have lead you to the door, the rest is up to you. Good luck!