Editor's note: Internationally recognized coding expert James Bach dropped out of school at age 16. A few years later, he was one of the youngest hires at Apple Computer. His book Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar shows how anyone can create their own education on their own terms.
To teach critical thinking, start by bringing a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats to class. Hold it up. Shake it. Ask the kids, "Can you tell me what this is?"
"Cereal! Frosted Mini-Wheats! Mini-Wheats cereal," they will say. Some may call out other answers, even silly ones. Smile about that. Funny, irrelevant and unique responses are all good at this point in the exercise.