This post is sponsored by The ADRA
If we want our sons to grow up to be leaders of their generations, they have to be able to lead themselves first. They won't be much good to anyone if they are blown to and fro by every strong idea that blows past them. Equipping our children with the tools to think, we give them the ability to slow down and process an idea before buying in or running in fear. Aristotle said, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
One of the best ways to train thinking skills is to give them practice in research so that they can play with discerning truth from vast bodies of information.
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Benefits of Training Research Skills
It develops discernment towards an author's bias. Every writer, fiction or not, has a point of view from which they write. Their worldview shapes their thinking and analysis of the information being presented. When students begin to research something simple like the moon, they will soon discover that different authors have different presuppositions about many aspects of the moon. Learning to discern the author's bias equips them to understand that everyone has a bias from which they transmit and communicate information. This will help them be discerning as they receive new ideas and give them practice for identifying an author's bias.
It exposes an understanding that statistics are not simple facts. In many persuasive articles, statistics are thrown around like heavyweight hitters. If students don't know how people come up with those numbers, they can be easily swayed by dramatic statistics. My son recently completed an exercise from the ARDA (The Association of Religion Data Archives) learning modules under the "Investigate Your World" tab. In this assignment he compared his presuppositions about politics with survey data. He was fascinated to learn that there wasn't a clear cut answer to many of the questions he looked at. Statistics can be slanted to suit your purpose. If you don't know where the source of the data came from, you can't trust the reliability of the claim. This is a powerful understanding that will make him check the facts behind the numbers in the future.
It opens the door to the other side of the story. There is always more than one side of every story. Only seeking one source of information will give you a narrow view of the facts. Information about the religious history of the United States might be left out of a secular textbook, but that doesn't mean it didn't exist. Great resources like the ARDA's teaching tools page offers information through an interactive timeline, quick stats, and a dictionary. Books like William Bennet's America: The Last Best Hope and the American Patriot's Almanac provide another side of the story. Rod Gragg's Forged in Faith and Nancy Pearcy's Total Truth draw out a worldview analysis of our nation's beginning.
Free Teaching Resources
There are so many wonderful free teaching resources out there that can give your student great opportunities for digging into a topic and practicing analyzing information. We have been learning policy debate this year, and I have been amazed at the amount of time and resources required to truly understand a topic well enough to have a quality debate.
The ARDA provides a wealth of opportunities for developing research skills from researching the religious history of the United States to checking in on the current religious events. It's important to have a safe place to practice these skills, so that when your young researchers are sent out to other sources, they can be equipped to guard against lies.
Enjoy exploring all of these free teaching resources at the ARDA’s Teaching Tools Page. Bookmark this site for your future research endeavors.
We can't wait to try out more of their exercises to grow in our research skills and critical thinking abilities.
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Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.