Have you ever noticed that the kids who exasperate us because they can't think critically inside our classrooms do just fine on their own outside of our classrooms? Maybe they only think critically when they must solve problems that they find interesting or pertinent to their own lives.
Years ago at the end of a faculty meeting, a teacher stood up (That was a long time ago!) and asked the principal to restrict how often "the office" called into classrooms and requested teachers to send kids out of class. The principal reminded the teacher that sometimes situations happen that require administrators to see students or parents show up in the front office to check-out students during class. He promised, however, to only interrupt class when it was absolutely necessary.
The same teacher stood up and complained a little more forcefully once again at the next faculty meeting, and the principal reiterated his commitment to only interrupt classes when necessary.
By the time the teacher stood up on the third faculty meeting, several people groaned that low, wearisome moan that teachers emit at the end of afternoon faculty meetings when one teacher's comments or questions extend faculty meetings even longer. The teacher was incensed about all of the interruptions, but other teachers apparently handled the interruptions with more patience.
A few weeks later, however, a teacher walking amid the portable classrooms (trailers) in the parking lot uncovered the source of the teacher's frustration when he spotted several young men fooling around with the cables outside the teacher's classroom.
Can kids think critically?
After an extensive investigation, the principal discovered that the boys had patched a line from outside the trailer into the classroom intercom system. Without any authority, for close to two months, one student aid had "called in" to the teacher's classroom repeatedly and requested that the teacher send one of the student's friends to the office. The student would then leave the classroom and meet his buddies in the "Smoke Hole," that lovely area of the campus where we used to allow students to smoke between classes.
The principal later interviewed many students and discovered that two students had called scores of students out of the teacher's classroom, day after day, just for the heck of it. No wonder the teacher had been so furious about classroom interruptions!
By the way, these creative students were on the "General" track, that route to graduation that required the least work, the least thought, and the least challenge.
Who says kids can't think critically?