I recently found this image on Facebook, and while it is dated 1994 its message is clear, and still true today, that this teacher believes in authority over accuracy. When I shared it I received a few stories of how some parent's own children had a similar experience. Here is an example of the responses received:
[MOM] Sounds like a letter [Mary's] elementary school sent home in sixth grade. I called the Principal and told her I refused to sign the thing, because it created a co-dependent situation. Co-dependency is unhealthy, and it is not something I want to teach my children. (The students would be punished if their parents did not sign the form.) [Mary's] teacher, the lead 6th grade teacher, was not pleased with me, because I went over her head. The principal recognized a poorly crafted letter/situation, and she made an agreement with Mary and myself. [The] teacher was never the same after that...
It is very sad that even now, learners are taught to blindly accept authority and the messages delivered by them. This is why our work force cannot make reasoned decisions; and make intuitive leaps based on the information provided. If we want our society to grow and learn, we must, MUST, question the answers provided.
Math teachers teach us to not only work out the problem but to test the solution. I remember my high school algebra and geometry teachers would have us show our work as we completed a problem, or proof. Then... they would have us plug in our solution into the original problem and see if the math actually works. In science class we learned about the scientific method: generating a hypothesis, planning an experiment to test the hypothesis, followed by documenting the results and determining if the results proved, disproved, or was inconclusive to either prove or disprove, the hypothesis.
So, how do we encourage critical thinking when we have so many educators institutionalized by the concept that they are to be the authority despite their accuracy? Sure it is embarrassing to stand in front of a class and pronounce, with authority, an inaccurate statement. But, teaching people that to question the answer is worse than having the wrong answer breeds a work force of people who will not make decisions for themselves.
In my experience, businesses that discourage independent thought, have more issues in the long run.
So, things we can do as leaders and educators:
Respect, as the we all hear, is earned not just a fact of our position. Forcing someone to respect us because of our position, does a disservice to those we educate and ourselves.
Caryn Morgan, corporate trainer, obtained her Masters Degree in Adult Education and Training