Key Coverage

Is School Too Shallow?

There’s an essential skill not being taught enough in classrooms today, say a growing number of American educators. That skill is thinking.

“Most teachers never really ask students to think very deeply…. Most of what is assigned and tested are things we ask students to memorize,” writes Karin Hess, president of Educational Research in Action in Underhill, Vt., and an expert on assessment, in an email to the Monitor.

As people fret about politicians unwilling to compromise or business owners unable to find qualified workers, a common underlying problem is this “dearth of critical thinking skills,” says William Gormley, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University and author of “The Critical Advantage: Developing Critical Thinking Skills in School.”

The purpose of schooling is undergoing a significant shift. With growing agreement that students need more than basic recall and reasoning skills, efforts are under way to infuse what’s sometimes referred to as “deeper learning” – mindsets and skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving.