When I posted last week my own little experience concerning introducing skepticism and critical thinking into the classroom, I knew I was far from the first person to commit such ideas to writing. But since that post, I’ve become keenly aware of the vast amount of resources out there concerning how to introduce skepticism to students. There’s truly an embarrassment of riches out there for the eager teacher seeking advice.
What follows is a woefully incomplete but sincerely offered survey of some of these resources, with a focus on resources providing actual lesson plans for instructor use. If you’re an educator looking to inject a little critical thinking into your classes, I hope you find this list useful.
- Not surprisingly, the James Randi Educational Foundation has a set of resources geared towards introducing skepticism into the classroom. Of particular interest to educators looking to construct a lesson plan will be the JREF’s predeveloped learning modules, each of which is ready to plug into a classroom; they have provided lessons for a wide range of schooling levels.
- Matt Lowry, “The Skeptical Teacher,” has been blogging about skepticism in the classroom since 2009. His blog is a great place to go to read about a wide range of topics concerning the intersection of education and critical thinking. Of particular interest here is his own resource page on Skepticism in the Classroom, where he provides lesson plans including relevant links and documents.
- Dean Baird has put together a collection of lessons for teachers to use, including links to PowerPoints, multimedia, and handouts. The site hasn’t been updated in a few years, but the content is still solid.
- For a less skeptically-topical series of lessons on critical thinking, check out this lesson plan resource page from the Leonore Annenburg Institute for Civics. In particular, I found their lesson plans on Background Beliefs, Dubious Adoption Data, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and The Credibility Challenge lessons to be strong in the ideas of good skepticism.
- As a skeptic, I am of course a fan of the Skeptic’s Dictionary. But I had never been aware that the website has a section for teachers, offering lesson suggestions for using the Skeptic’s Dictionary in the classroom. This one is of particular interest to those of us working with textbooks where the informational content may be valuable but the reading selections are lacking. Supplemental reading from the web is always welcome in my classroom.
Do you know of other lesson plan resources around the Web that help introduce skepticism and critical thinking into the classroom? If so, please share them in the comments below. I’m always interested in more ideas!