Enlightenment comes when ideas collide : about the freedom of expression of teachers in primary schools and the impact on pupils’ ability to think critically

Thumbnail Image
Lauwers, Dominic
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research has shown that enhancing critical thinking skills is important in the prevention of radicalisation. Recently this objective is implemented in all curricula in Flanders, although it does not say how this should be achieved. Therefore, we wonder whether teachers know how to teach critical thinking skills. Even more importantly is the question what impact free speech of teachers have on the pupils’ ability to think critically when having conversations and discussions about (sensitive) topics. Therefore, this research investigates to what extend the freedom of expression should be in order to obtain the best results in enhancing the pupils’ ability to think critically. To answer this research question, both surveys and interviews were conducted. The surveys had to be completed by teachers from primary schools in Antwerp. In addition, two principals from Antwerp primary schools and an expert were interviewed. First, the results of this study shows that teachers in primary education better stay neutral and maintain a professional attitude to obtain the best results in enhancing pupils’ critical thinking skills, which is the opposite of what research says about academics in higher education. Secondly, this study also observes that the objectives as prescribed in the curricula are not sufficiently put into practice. Although teachers reported that they know how to teach critical thinking, some insights and facts indicate the opposite. Our recommendation is therefore that further research should develop a general teaching method on how to enhance critical thinking skills, and consequently education should adopt this approach and provide training for teachers.
Second semester University: Université de Montpellier
education, schools, freedom of expression, The Netherlands, teaching, critical thiking, radicalism