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Florida students should learn critical thinking | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
The Declaration of Independence (Painted 1819, John Trumbull).
The Declaration of Independence (Painted 1819, John Trumbull). [ Public domain ]
Published May 22

Put down the spoon and learn

For students learning American history, what does just ‘the facts’ mean? | Editorial, May 21

The best course I ever took had no textbook. It was mentored rather than taught. I learned American history by digging into original sources (on microfiche, if this still exists). I learned to discern, along with the gratifications of discovery. The best course I ever delivered, to well-educated doctors, guided them similarly. Following the science takes effort and usefully replaces the oxymoron of “settled science.” The editorial makes plain that a top-down prescribed curriculum is fraught as it has been and will always be. We see similar patterns of de facto censorship outside of the classrooms. Every day the internet adds 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, much of it is garbage or biased. Shouldn’t we emphasize learning to seek, sieve and evaluate over spoon-feeding? Textbooks and lectures are about a century behind the learning needs of our youth. Give them common topics in an orderly and age-appropriate way and show them how to search and assess, to formulate opinions, and to support, debate and revise their views. That’s democracy. Let’s step beyond who is holding the spoon. The spoon is the problem.

Pat Byrne, Largo

Doomed to repeat it

For students learning American history, what does just ‘the facts’ mean? | Editorial, May 21

With all the debates regarding what “history” the state of Florida will teach, there is one thing all should remember: Those who fail to learn their history are doomed to repeat it. Think long and hard before making rash or radical decisions regarding the education of our children.

Al Buchanan, New Port Richey

People are basically good

For students learning American history, what does just ‘the facts’ mean? | Editorial, May 21

One day my adult daughter told me, “Dad, thanks for letting me just be a kid.” Some recent commentary bemoans the admission of critical race theory into the education system. Like this great nation, American history is evolving. My early ’60s elementary education included, “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 14 hundred and 92,” not some oppressive European crossing the Atlantic Ocean with the sole purpose of disenfranchising North America’s indigenous peoples. Should the new curriculum include George Washington’s evil deforestation plan, beginning with his chopping down the cherry tree? When did we decide that it was counterproductive to be positive? Did your belief in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny really warp your psyche? How about teaching our youth that people, though not perfect, are generally good? There’ll be plenty of time to become jaded later in life.

Mark Campbell, St. Petersburg

Admit the truth

For students learning American history, what does just ‘the facts’ mean? | Editorial, May 21

I’d like to commend the Times Editorial Board for stating what should be easy for all of us — that is, acknowledging the truth. The two letter writers of “First, learn the truth” and “Teach history, not fiction” go hand-in-glove with the editorial. One would think that these goals would not be difficult to achieve. However, in this political climate, such goals seem to be pursued in vain.

Terry Roy, St. Petersburg