Something currently and painfully lacking in the public education system is the teaching of something called Critical Thinking.
There is much to be said on the topic. I could write an entire book about the impact of critical thinking and the lack thereof on the education system and the minds of children and adolescents. So many issues we face could be greatly helped or all together avoided with several principles of critical thinking.
Instead of reading and regurgitating the basics for you, I’ll point you to the blog of a past (and extremely intelligent) professor of mine, Santi Tafarella, who’s written several pertinent posts on this topic. You can find these posts here: http://santitafarella.wordpress.com/