WASHINGTON - In Vichea, who recently received a PhD in critical literacy in elementary education, says elementary school is not too soon to start critical thinking skills.
“Even though elementary school students cannot analyze political and socio-economic issues, they have the ability to know some issues in their class, such as group division as well as discrimination,” he told “New Voices,” a VOA Khmer radio call-in show. “They can also talk about social issues directly facing them every day.”
In Vichea said these are small steps to prepare them to critique more complicated issues. In order for that to happen, he said, they need the ability to analyze a problem. And they need a sense of curiosity.I
n Vichea said teaching materials for Cambodian elementary schools are good, but teaching methodology needs to change, because teacher’s books introduce rote learning rather than encouraging students to think critically.
“This kind of learning process goes along with the spirit of democracy,” he said. “Critical literacy goes beyond simply parrot learning, which focuses on memorization. Instead, it engages students in activities and encourages them to question the articles and critique the articles they read and the purpose of the articles and their impacts, etc.”
“They need to learn about searching for information, searching for the truth,” he said.