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CSJT and Critical Thinking

To the editor:

In her letter of 11/27, Casey McMullen repeats the assertion that I have conceded the correctness of her position on LTBTQ rights. That assertion is inaccurate. What I stated is that the state bullying statute is ambiguous — that it lends itself to two interpretations and is therefore unclear. Since that discussion was at an impasse, I decided to move on to issues that are more foundational and central to the Critical Theory debate.

In her letter she also finds fault with my characterization of the word “critical” in Critical Social Justice Theory (CSJT). She contends that the word “critical,” as used in CSJT, does not involve aggressive criticism, but refers only to an analysis of the merits and flaws of a work.

The definition that she suggests has indeed been used for many years as we teach critical thinking skills in our schools. If it were being applied in the same fair and objective manner as it was in the past, it would be a good thing.

However, when CSJT has taken over a school system, the teaching of critical thinking skills is no longer fair and objective. Under CSJT, critical thinking is politicized. Within a CSJT educational system, critical thinking becomes a tool for turning the students against the existing social order.

How does this happen? CSJT does three things: First, it revises history in such a way that our country and its institutions are cast in the most unfavorable light. Second, it downplays positive changes that have occurred to correct the wrongs of the past, or it interprets those positive changes as somehow being a sinister ruse intended to perpetuate the evils of the past. Third, it sets before the students’ eyes a utopian ideal where the institutions of the current society have been swept away and all is good and just. In other words, it compares our imperfect system to a system that does not and cannot exist.

Thus, when set in a CSJT framework, “critical thinking” becomes a tool for overthrowing the foundational structures of our society. I am concerned that CSJT is taking over our school systems. I hope the public shares my concern.

Michael Thom

New Ulm

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