Being taught critical thinking when we live in a world devoid of critical thinking is as useful as being taught how to fix a broken toaster in a world of disposable toasters.
Critical Thinking By Osmosis
Shane Greenup

Hi Shane, I feel there’s something very Mathlandian about this statement. :) I had a similar thought when asked to teach writing to 8th-graders: how can we encourage students to value revision in the writing process if we live in a world where revision is largely invisible? We usually only see the results, not the process.

I completely agree with your theory that we would learn critical thinking by osmosis if “every webpage or piece of content is directly connected to the best critique of that webpage/content”—or at least a valuable slice of critical thinking skills. But the keyword is “best”.

Right now, we live in a world where news programs regularly invite pundits to present “opposing views” on air, and people vote up the comments they consider to be the best “takedowns” or counterarguments in forums. If these are the best critiques we’re exposed to, we aren’t going to develop very good critical thinking skills.

As I see it, there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem at work here. How can we surface the best critiques when critical thinking skills are lacking? This is the same dilemma Seymour Papert faced in Mindstorms.