Teaching Children to Think for Themselves


When you look at the parochial student groups and lobbies it’s easy to assume that forming opinions comes naturally to young people.

This isn’t the case.

I would argue that for many, the positions they reach stems less from personal insight and knowledge and is more of a result of what conviction is fashionable for the time and place.

This is not ideal.

Today’s primary aged children tend not to have fixed viewpoints on most issues. They can parrot what close friends express, but it is clear they haven’t given it much thought. They can be asked for example to give their view on whether schools should have uniforms. They usually respond that they shouldn’t but then get stuck when asked to elaborate and provide reasons.

It is absolutely essential that teachers address this and show the students how to think for themselves and why introspection and knowledge really matters.

My advice for children and adults is to indulge in both sides of every viewpoint.

For example, read a book from a leading atheist and then from a leading religious thinker to determine whether you believe in a creator. Read the best book on socialism and compare that to a book advocating capitalism.

These examples are more apt for High School kids than Primary, but the idea extends to them too. That’s why debating is such a brilliant discipline. It forces one to see things from a different perspective.

And it’s not just politics. If you can see things from different perspectives you can connect better with others, forging stronger and more meaningful relationships.


Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.


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