Learning to Think vs. Learning to Doubt :: Weekends with Chesterton

“If people must not be taught religion, they might be taught reason, philosophy. If the State must not teach them to pray it might teach them to think. And when I say that children should be taught to think I do not mean (like many moderns) that they should be taught to doubt; for the two processes are not only not the same, but are in many ways opposite. To doubt is only to destroy; to think is to create.

Daily News, June 22, 1997 (I found it in The Complete Thinker by Dale Ahlquist)

I‘ve been thinking about the difference between learning to think and learning to doubt. I have a feeling that what Chesterton says here- “to doubt is only to destroy; to think is to create” may have implications for teaching middle-school age students. The logic stage seems ripe with opportunities to either teach a child to doubt (whether we intend to or not) or to think.

It seems to me that the questions we ask about what we read (and that we teach our kids to ask) are formative toward one end or the other. We want them to become thinkers, not doubters.

These are the kinds of things I think about while I pack furiously, spackle walls, and wipe down baseboards (we’re moving this week!) What are you thinking about this weekend?

Weekends with Chesterton: cultivating the intellectual lifeEvery weekend in 2014, we’re digging into the prolific work of G.K. Chesterton here at Amongst Lovely Things. Join us! All you need is a snippet- a short quote taken from anything he’s written. Blog it and link up below, or share your snippet to the comments on this post.

You can add commentary or photos if you’d like (you know I can’t ever resist adding a photo, myself!), but all you need is a snippet. Let’s keep this thing simple! Reading even a few lines of Chesterton every week is bound to be profitable.

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  1. says

    Fantastic quote….I love how you apply it to your/our kids and their thinking and learning…..Thank you!

    And thanks for hosting the GKC party~

    Good luck this week moving! Yikes…that is one herculean job, girl. I know it will be worth it for you ultimately…you seem so happy about it —! Enjoy getting settled!! I’ll be thinking of you …

    chris recently posted…Five Minute Friday~ FRIEND + Weekends with ChestertonMy Profile

  2. says

    I hadn’t read that quote before, but now I’ve saved it to my vast collection of Chesterton quotes. Thank you! The modern teacher thinks she is doing children a favor by inculcating this skeptical outlook, but she is planting a stumbling block in their souls — and now I see, in their minds, too.

  3. M.E. says

    Thoughts for the Easter season:
    “As we have taken the circle as the symbol of reason and madness, we may very well take the cross as the symbol at once of mystery and of health. Buddhism is centripetal, but Christianity is centrifugal: it breaks out. For the circle is perfect and infinite in its nature, but it is fixed forever in its size; it can never be larger or smaller.
    But the cross, though it has at its heart a collision and contradiction, can extend its four arms forever without altering its shape.
    Because it has a paradox in its centre it can grow without changing. The circle returns upon itself and is bound. The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a sign-post for free travelers.” – G. K. Chesterton

    Best wishes for your move and thank you for Weekends with Chesterton!