Both content knowledge and critical thinking skills should be part of a good education. It is not an either/or question. Students require both to become truly educated.
Content knowledge is simply what you know. It is facts, figures, historical dates and events, scientific constructs, economic principles etc. A content-rich curriculum sets the foundation. Courses, which teach history with dates, science with universal laws, philosophy, economics, theology and literature are necessary components. Learning a second language and playing a sport/instrument are also integral to content knowledge because one has to learn rules and how to apply them.
Critical thinking is a multidisciplinary approach to analyzing information using content knowledge as your epistemic reservoir. Critical thinking involves multiple cognitive activities. It is: 1) analyzing what something means within a specific context, 2) solving problems in new, never-before-seen situations and 3) developing logical arguments to explain and increase the utility of one's content knowledge.
The functional distinction between content knowledge and critical thinking is that content knowledge helps students pass written tests, perform defined tasks and appear educated. However, content knowledge alone does not protect against indoctrination.
It is critical thinking that protects students from indoctrination because they can ascertain when information they learn: 1) contains a false equivalence, 2) fails a proper cost-benefit analysis, 3) uses fabricated premises to justify a conclusion, 4) presents a hypothesis based on confounding variables and 5) when an argument is not an argument at all, but only a supposition. These are just five of the hundreds of ways that critical thinking stops indoctrination in its tracks.
If a school or teacher says that learning content knowledge is the main purpose of education, they are selling students short. It also holds true if someone says learning critical thinking is the main purpose of education, they too are selling students short. One without the other is missing an important aspect of education.
This is why our homepage states "A Good Education Must Include Critical Thinking." It says "include" because students require both content knowledge and critical thinking to emerge as confident, analytical adults who are naturally resistant to indoctrination.