This reminds me so much of my French education, Joao Nascimento, with the one difference that we were encouraged to embrace critical thinking through two years’ worth of philosophy classes during the last two years of high school.
The number of hours per week was contingent on what orientation we had chosen, with the literary kids getting the most classes and the scientific / econ / tech kids getting the least. I went for literature and languages so spent very many happy hours learning how to think, construct an argument, and debate ideas.
This culminated in a four-hour exam for the baccalauréat when I ended up writing a paper on Kant, if my memory serves me right. When I moved to Belgium for college, those same classs were compulsory during the first year but I got excused as I had already covered the material.
Alas, critical thinking is something I no longer encounter routinely now that I live in the US. I miss intelligent, stimulating conversations with curious people who are always willing to learn more and actively seeking knowledge.
For the last five years, capitalism, individualism, racism, misogyny and an endless appetite for mindless entertainment is the (monolingual, to boot) environment I’ve lived in. It’s been stultifying and may well have had a hand in the advent of depression, if I’m being brutally honest.
Do you have philosophy classes in high school too in Portugal? Or at college level?