We do not at present educate people to think but, rather, to have opinions…
Excerpted from Education of a Wandering Man: A Memoir by Louis L’Amour ©1989:
Acquiring an education has many aspects, of which school is only one, and the present approach is, I believe, the wrong one. Without claiming to have all the answers, I can only express my feeling that our methods of instruction do much to hamper a child in learning. Our approach is pedestrian. We teach a child to creep when he should be running; education becomes a task rather than an excitement. Yet each of us can remember one or two teachers who made learning an adventure, which it surely is.
Personally, I believe children should be taught to see, to observe, and to subject what they have seen to analysis, and this in the earliest grades. Very young children will often learn a difficult subject easily unless someone tells them it is “hard.” To me it also seems obvious that a child should be taught some methods of reasoning, methods of scientific investigation. Children have an innate feeling for logic and, given the opportunity, would learn quickly.
Such instruction would be unthinkable in any country not a democracy, and if carried out in a democracy it might clear the air of a lot of loose thinking, loose public speaking, and the kind of questionable statements that fill the air during political and other campaigns. The first generation of parents who had such children would have a difficult time but would find their own thinking undergoing drastic change.
We do not at present educate people to think but, rather, to have opinions, and that is something altogether different. Many of the political ideas that have disturbed the world in the past fifty years could not exist in such an atmosphere.