Critical Thinking: Helping Teens Examine Their Presuppositions

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Critical Thinking: Helping Teens Examine Their Presuppositions. Teens need to recognize what they believe before they can discern whether those beliefs are accurate. Here's how to examine those presuppositions.

Critical Thinking: Helping Teens Examine Their Presuppositions

Teens desperately need good critical thinking skills in these days. Teens (and adults) are almost constantly barraged by the digital world: social media, internet and television.

The tough thing is that there is little built in filter for digital information. Thus, unless something is too violent or racist, anything can be posted in social media, blog or the news sources.

That’s why teens (and adults) need good critical thinking skills. They need to be able to parse through the information that is bombarding them to discern:

  • Is this accurate?
  • Is this true?
  • Is this source trustworthy?

How do you start teaching your homeschool high schoolers Critical Thinking? Helping teens examine their presuppositions.

What’s a *presupposition*?

Presuppositions are the concepts, values, ideals, beliefs that you hold as personal law or standards. They are the basics by which all other ideas are measured.

Presuppositions are similar to the laws your teens use in math to help them prove theorems. You don’t PROVE a LAW, you already believe that it is true: you presuppose it.

Presuppositions are similar to the laws of science. You don’t really prove the Laws of Thermodynamics (just wait till your teen takes Physics). You accept that they are true; you presuppose that they are true.

We have presuppositions for life. ALL humans do. We don’t feel we need to prove them. We accept them as true and we base our decisions, other beliefs and behaviors on these presuppositions.

What are some presuppositions that all people have?

  • Is there a God? If so, what is God like?
  • What kind of people are acceptable?
  • What is the correct kind of politics?
  • What makes a good life?
  • What kind of person am I?

Most of the time, teens (and adults) don’t really even think about their presuppositions- often don’t even know those presuppositions are there. BUT those presuppositions are guiding their lives.

AND people on the news, social media or blogs ALL have presuppositions, also. They are often speaking from their presuppositions. These presuppositions may be the same as your teens’ or may clash with theirs.

Traditionally, presuppositions tended to be stable over lifetimes: One generations’ ideals were followed by their children. The *destabilizing forces* that could change a persons’ presuppositions were:

  • favorite college professors
  • trauma
  • mid-life crises

Today, the digital world is so pervasive that we may be finding that our teens’ presuppositions are challenged more frequently and more intensely.

How do you help them to have healthy ideals/presuppositions?

You start with talking about it.

  • What do you believe that you don’t need proof for?
  • What do the *digital voices* in their world believe that they don’t need proof for?

Next, you teach them to think. That’s why 7Sisters has our 2 philosophy courses:

History and Philosophy of the Western World (Can count as World History credit.)

History and Philosophy of the Western World

Philosophy in 4 Questions (Can count as elective credit.)

Philosophy in 4 Questions.

Both are fun, accessible and important for teens. These courses help teens be in touch with their presuppositions and gain the skills for wise thinking in this overwhelming digital age.

Download History and Philosophy of the Western World or Philosophy in 4 Questions for your homeschool high schoolers.

Read this interview with Dr. Gerald Culley about why apologetics is such an important part of life preparation.

Read more about teaching kids to think – why is Socrates hanging around in my homeschool?

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Critical Thinking: Helping Teens Examine Their Presuppositions

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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