As a history teacher, I try to teach my students how to question. My hope is that by the end of the year, they no longer take a source at face value and read it literally, but are able to analyze it and determine what the author is saying inherently and what factors influence an authors bias. Basically, I’m teaching them to be skeptics.
Interestingly, it seems that a healthy dose of skepticism is one of the signs of higher education. At least, it aligns with the analytical and evaluative parts of Bloom’s taxonomy. And I do think that some skepticism is good. We all laugh at the rhetorical question, “If everyone was jumping off of a bridge, would you do it too?” It’s often applauded when you ask questions or challenge a norm.
But I think I’m also realizing that such well-intentioned skepticism can also go too far. Swaying too far to an extreme on the skeptic-scale leads to distrust…of everyone. Especially those in authority over you as you try to determine what their motivations are for doing something, or who’s really behind the scenes. While this can be good, there also needs to be a point of trust. Maybe there is something motivating people behind the scenes that you do need to be aware. But shouldn’t it also be a given that by submitting yourself to someone in authority over you, you’re admitting that they know more about a situation than you do and your trusting them to make the best decision? It goes back to the idea of being part of a community–maybe you would prefer a different approach to a situation, but for the sake of the body that you’re a part of, you’re willing to look past that from time to time. You’re trusting that there’s a plan. I don’t know, but it seems like if you’re not careful and don’t learn to trust anyone ever, you’ll lead a lonely and meaningless life.