Caroline Woods And The MAGA War On Critical Thinking

Caroline Woods is a communications consultant from Rapid City who’s here to help you protect your children from independent thought and free will.  Her opinion guest column in The Dakota Scout this weekend is a love letter to ignorance.

Let’s dive into Caroline Woods’ piece on raising “conservative kids” in South Dakota, shall we? First off, Woods paints South Dakota as a utopia for conservative families, seemingly unaware that a state’s “greatness” might be oversold.  

Woods melodramatically refers to LGBTQ+ rights and civil rights as a “woke mind virus.” This perspective is a classic fearmongering tactic, suggesting that inclusive education and diverse viewpoints are somehow akin to a contagious disease. Conservatives are afraid that if children learn the truth they’ll be harder to manipulate.

The article claims that South Dakotan children are being indoctrinated with leftist ideologies. This is a common refrain in conservative circles, lacking substantiation. It overlooks the value of exposing children to a variety of viewpoints to develop critical thinking skills.

The notion of needing to “get to children first” on sensitive topics suggests a race to indoctrinate before others do. This approach can lead to premature, possibly fear-based discussions, rather than organic, age-appropriate conversations.

This whole column is a screed against critical thinking.  In our information-rich world, not teaching children critical thinking skills is like giving them a smartphone with no parental controls. This skill, which involves analyzing and evaluating information or arguments based on evidence, is the Swiss Army knife of modern life.

Critical thinking empowers children to make informed decisions, solve problems effectively, and develop a deeper understanding of the world around them. It’s like giving them a mental GPS to navigate the complexities of life.

In a democratic society, critical thinking is crucial for developing informed, responsible citizens. Children who can think critically are better equipped to understand political and social issues, discern truth from misinformation, and participate in civic life in meaningful ways. They can engage in public discourse, vote responsibly, and contribute to community and societal development. It’s like giving them a seat at the adult table, but with a voice that actually makes sense.

Critical thinking skills are foundational to academic success across disciplines. In math and science, these skills enable students to apply concepts to solve problems and conduct experiments. In the humanities, they foster the ability to interpret texts and understand historical and cultural contexts. It’s like giving them the cheat codes to the academic game.

The modern workforce increasingly values critical thinking. Employers seek individuals who can independently analyze situations, identify solutions, and make sound decisions. In a landscape where change is the only constant, adaptability and problem-solving abilities – core aspects of critical thinking – are vital for career success. It’s like giving them a superpower to conquer the ever-changing job market.

In an era of information overload, critical thinking is key to navigating the vast sea of data, opinions, and news available at our fingertips. It enables children to distinguish between credible sources and misinformation, to understand bias, and to approach information with a questioning mind. This skill is crucial in developing discernment in the digital age. It’s like giving them a mental shield against the onslaught of fake news and clickbait.

Teaching children to think critically also promotes independence and self-confidence. By encouraging them to question, analyze, and form their own opinions, we empower them to take ownership of their learning and beliefs. This self-reliance fosters a sense of confidence in their abilities to face challenges and make decisions. It’s like giving them the keys to their own life.

Critical thinking involves considering multiple perspectives and understanding the complexity of issues. This aspect of critical thinking is essential for developing empathy and tolerance. Children learn to appreciate different viewpoints and cultures, which is vital in our increasingly interconnected world. It’s like giving them a passport to understanding and acceptance.

Teaching children critical thinking is a fundamental aspect of their education and development. It equips them with the tools to succeed academically, professionally, and personally. By fostering these skills, we prepare them to be informed, responsible, and empathetic individuals who can contribute positively to society. The cultivation of critical thinking in children is not just beneficial but necessary for navigating the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. 

In conclusion, while Woods’ piece may resonate with the MAGA mob, it’s steeped in fear and the desire for control, rather than openness and understanding. The idea of raising “sane, well-rounded adults” in a “distorted society” seems to forget that sanity and well-roundedness often come from exposure to a breadth of perspectives, not just those that echo our own.