Teaching in the post-truth era: How can we encourage students to change their world?

Katya Kitchingman head shot

How do students think about the world around them?

Bradford College’s Katya Kitchingman discusses the important role further education plays in encouraging critical thinking among learners in the latest edition of professional journal InTuition.

Katya, programme leader for post-secondary education and training at Bradford College, said: “We all know about the importance of Maths and English but I’d like to see Critical Thinking being given equal weighting in every subject area, a conscious focus of all education.

“We’re learning and teaching in the post-truth era and educators have a responsibility to tackle that. I’m eternally optimistic that things can be better and I suppose this is my prescription for a more hopeful politics and future. It’s easy to complain and call out where there’s injustice and ‘alternative facts’ but there needs to be a plan!”

In the article, Katya, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy who started as an English teacher with Bradford College in 2013, discusses why it is as important to understand and challenge the world they live in as it is to gain good qualifications. She argues the less empowered young people feel to control their own destiny and shape the world around them, the less engaged they will be in politics and democracy – which will, in turn, mean they have less of a voice in events such as elections and referendums. This was demonstrated when the UK voted for Brexit, despite an estimated 73% of people aged under 24 voting to Remain in the 2016 EU Referendum.

The article describes various ways in which colleges can help students to get into the habit of questioning and challenging the information they receive from various sources such as social media and the internet, and to tell the difference between facts and beliefs.

It is the latest in a series of articles Katya has contributed to InTuition, having had an article on Grounded Theory, focused on empowering trainee teachers to conduct their own research on practice, published in the Autumn edition. For the Winter edition, Katya was asked for a short piece with her and two of her trainees on the value of being a member of Society of Education and Training (SET), the professional body of the Education and Training Foundation.

Critical thinking is a passion for Katya, who made it the main focus of her research towards her Masters in Education degree in 2016. She said: “Too often we think of critical thinking as a pursuit for Higher Education students - assessment criterion would support this - but it isn't. It's for everyone. Every citizen.”

The latest edition of InTuition magazine, with Katya’s article, is available online to SET members.