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The Importance of Teaching Critical Thinking in School


"In America you're free to do anything you want to do, but you can't choose the consequences of your behavior."

So says John Yearwood, author of Jar of Pennies, a novel about a murderer who was failed by America's educational system that focuses on teaching to the test, not on critical thinking. Yearwood is our guest on the Lean to the Left podcast.


"Consequences are going to be determined by what you do," Yearwood says. "And a lot of, kids don't get that idea coming through school and, or for that matter, a lot of other necessary life skills. All of them all of them going along with the, with the principle of critical thinking.


"So part of what what I'm doing in Jar of Pennies is telling the story of a guy who just didn't have the the, education and to acquire the skill to think through what happens when you do certain sorts of things.


"And the result of that is he, can only live a, life of reaction. He can't plan for anything in the future, he can't plan his actions so that he ends up in a place where he wants to end up. And the ultimate result of living a life of reaction is he lives just long enough for the state to execute him."


A former stringer for the New York Times, Yearwood taught in high schools and universities for 30 years and was an award-winning journalist for 15 years. He has published hundreds of editorials and columns and thousands of news stories, as well as academic works on the First Amendment and the extra-Constitutional powers of the Presidency during times of crisis.


John now volunteers helping elementary students improve their reading skills and assisting refugee immigrants when he is not writing.


Some of our questions for Yearwood:


Q. Tell us about Jar of Pennies and how it relates to our topic today.Q. Is corruption more or less widespread in small town America?


Q. Do differences in diversity within the population of small town America vs. larger American cities play a role here?


Q. We still are seeing manifestations of racial unrest and bigotry, especially in former slave states in America, but really elsewhere, too. Right?


Q. How is “fear” a rural pastime in East Texas, practiced by locals on one another, sometimes in jest, and on most strangers as a way of preventing social change? You like to use a rattlesnake as an example, right?


Q. Does the increased use of artificial intelligence, which allows people to use special software to automatically write documents pose a threat to students learning how to write effectively?


Q. I noticed a Facebook post in which you say that over the last five years you’ve mentored local elementary and middle school kids as a volunteer reading teacher, and that this year you had two pregnant 12-year-olds in school, both victims of incest. You write that “if you support overturning Roe, then you murdered those girls.” Comment further?


Q. What are your thoughts about the supreme court? Should it be expanded?


Q. How can people reach out to you and buy your book?


Listen to the podcast:

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C J Waldron
C J Waldron
Jan 04, 2023

Teaching students how to think is far more important than teaching them what to think. Becoming problem solvers means they will be more likely to question rather than accept what they are told.

ChatGPT is becoming the go-to AI tool that allows students to cheat. Writing needs to be text-specific in some cases to eliminate this practice.

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