To form an opinion one must analyze and evaluate the available information before creating a personal thought. Then when defense is required, one must evaluate the strongest support for the chosen argument.

While being able to form an opinion is an important skill to develop, it’s truly not enough. It is simple for one to say, “this is what I think” and quite another thing altogether to be able to state an opinion and support it. One of the best ways to infuse rigor into any educational setting is to require students to do more than share their opinions and judgments. Students must have the opportunity to give reasons, facts and support for their thoughts.

One thing we must be cautious of as we are ask children to create and defend their opinions about various topics is the spiral many of us take into confirmation bias. Confirmation bias occurs when someone gives greater weight to new information that upholds or supports to their belief or opinion.

Examples of confirmation bias include:

– Not looking for objective facts.

– Ignoring information that goes against your belief.

– Remembering only the parts of the information that are consistent with your belief.

– Reading data in a way that can only support your belief.

While we all are guilty of confirmation bias, it is important that as we educate our children we help them to notice their biases and to consider the views others also hold. As homeschooling families, this is especially important as many times each member of a family will hold the same views and opinions on otherwise polarizing topics.

How is this possible? Through conversations. Conversations at home and conversations with others.