Forbes columns

A compilation of Helen Lee Bouygues’s regular column in Forbes on critical thinking research and education.

Different businesses will, of course, face very different challenges. But I’ve run more than a dozen companies, many following periods of serious upheaval, and there are a few core approaches that are applicable to all firms in the present crisis. 

Navigating these volatile conditions will be an exercise in critical thinking. Consider the situation a high-stakes case study in improved reasoning. 

As distance learning becomes the norm, there’s a lot parents can do to help kids at home learn the skills that they need to succeed in life. Parent-assisted education is nothing new, to be sure. Many parents homeschool their children, and until the mid-19th century, most education took place in the home. Things have obviously changed since then. Academic standards are way higher, for one. Our culture has changed too, and children today by and large do not see their parents as educators. But parents should — and can — take an active role. 

A new report from the Reboot Foundation reveals that, not only is social media rife with misinformation on Covid-19, but the more time people spend on platforms like Twitter, the less informed they are on the virus’ spread and its prevention. Heavy users of social media are also more likely to take a lackadaisical attitude toward the pandemic in general, the report found. Given the current pandemic, such erroneous beliefs and misinformation among the public could have dire consequences and may be deepening the crisis. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about my early experiences as I’ve read about the protests in Hong Kong. I have been struck, in particular, by the role civics education has played in the conflict. Specifically, a course called “Liberal Studies,” which has been blamed for fueling the energy of the young protesters.

Research released today by the Reboot Foundation sheds new light on the effect of devices on learning.

The new analysis builds on an earlier study. Last summer, the foundation released a paper that showed a weak link between technology use and student learning. 

“Traditionally, the way labs have been run is, students are given a procedure that they follow and conduct an experiment to observe a particular phenomenon,” explains Natasha Holmes, an assistant professor at Cornell University specializing in physics education. “But there’s not a lot of critical thinking there. Most of the decisions are laid out for the students.”