I have been a champion and longtime supporter of teaching our young adults the art of critical thinking, but can that critical thinking exercise go too far?

I think we may have just found a topic where the art of teaching critical thinking, at least from a subject matter perspective, has gone too far.

According to a Washington Free Beacon article a high school teacher in the state of New York handed out a “critical thinking” exercise in which he asked his students to justify Adolf Hitler’s Final Solution plan to extinguish the Jewish race.

It even goes a step further, according to a Syracuse news organization the New York Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia was quoted saying:

I think it's certainly a question where you want students to think on both sides and analyze … which position a person is taking. That idea of being able to identify the perspective an article has or a writer has is a very important skill

As I stated I am for the educational exercise of teaching our young adults critical thinking but to what extent?  Are there not a countless number of other topics and subjects in which to do this with?  How about the death penalty or abortion or the welfare state, did you have to choose the holocaust?

What would people say if the assignment was to defend slavery?

Some topics or issues are indefensible, certainly we can say that the Holocaust and slavery is indefensible so why ask young adults let alone anyone to defend them.  What possible defense could someone put forth to defend the annihilation of an entire race of people?

What is the teacher’s reason for picking the Holocaust for this assignment?  This teacher is dealing with very impressionable minds and who knows what this assignment may do to these young impressionable minds.

After some push back to the New York Education Commissioners initial response she made a follow-up statement saying:

 Since first learning of the assignment, I've done my homework to determine the facts in this situation. I spoke with district officials about this serious matter. We agree the assignment should not have been given. The teacher apologized and the assignment will not be used in the future

Sound like she is trying to protect herself from further public shame.  There is a State Assemblyman who is calling for her resignation.  Not only for her initial statement on this issue but we are also informed in the Washington Free Beacon article that:

she recently came under fire for allowing the state education department to include an anti-Israel cartoon in a Regents examination. The department issued a public apology for using the cartoon

Sounds like she herself may have a problem with the Jewish community.

Critical thinking is an art that is sorely missing in our educational system but some issues are just plain indefensible and asking someone to defend the indefensible is just wrong.

The Live with Renk show airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon, to let me know your thoughts call (269) 441-9595

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