Should our children learn to think for themselves?

Reading the Chris Woodhead “Answer the question” section in the Sunday Times today and a parent had sent in a letter complaining about the use of The Simpson TV show being used in English lessons at their daughter’s school. The purpose of using the show was to help children learn “critical thinking skills”

Chris Woodhead is the former chief Inspector for schools and his reply included the following:

” In English lessons they (the children) should be studying the classics of literature they may otherwise never encounter. The aim should not be to develop “critical thinking skills” and they should not be encouraged to express their opinions on the texts. Who cares what they think or feel?”


When I first read his reply, I honestly thought he was being sarcastic and expected him to go on and make a valid point about the importance and value of teaching children to think for themselves. Not so, apparently children shouldn’t be taught to have an opinion!

I can understand the debate about using the Simpsons, but not caring about what they think or feel? What nonsense! If  teachers can use the Simpsons to engage children perhaps they can then use the heightened level of interest to study the classics.

Children should be empowered to think for themselves and develop opinions and learn how to express them. Perhaps it’s just as well Chris Woodhead is no longer Chief Inspector for Schools….

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