Put on the right thinking hat!

Put on the right thinking hat!

Put On The Right Thinking Hat! A question can be asked in different ways. As staunch believers of rote-learning, we Indians would ask a basic question about living things like this–Define living things with examples (we love definitions!).

A question can be asked in different ways. As staunch believers of rote-learning, we Indians would ask a basic question about living things like this–Define living things with examples (we love definitions!). Students, who in all probability had memorised the answer for this question, would reproduce it ‘ditto’ as the teacher would be annoyed even if a preposition is missing (sometimes the teacher even deducts marks if students explain the answer in their own words). Maybe because this saves her correction time and students don’t have to actually apply their mind to reproduce.

Global curriculum, on the other hand believes in application-based learning and asks the same question like this --“Cheryl took a stroll in the park and noticed a few things-pic below—

List out what she has seen--

What are the living things you see in the picture—why do you think they are living?

What are the non-living things? Why do you think they are non-living?

While the first question is nothing but a memory-test, the second one challenges students to observe, understand, think and infer. Doesn’t this ring a bell? Yes, when a question like this is thrown at a child, it’s a natural tendency to pause, assimilate, arrange the answer in the mind and conclude it logically. Going up the ladder of education, a student needs these skills at every rung, which not only nurtures profound thinking but orients the child towards problem-solving.

To know more about critical thinking let’s first understand what goes through a grade three student’s mind upon seeing a tricky (you could read ‘stimulating’) question. Such questions force you to think, not just that, they won’t allow you to rest unless you arrive at the answer. While Singapore school taught me how to delve deep into myself for unearthing solutions, they gave me valuable lessons in critical thinking which I apply even today. Watching students think is a great pleasure for the teacher, because she/he almost reads the series of thoughts that rush through the young minds!

Interestingly, ancient Indian education/philosophy always advocated critical thinking, to ‘look’ or ‘search’ for answers through profound thinking. This is what our Gurukul education is known for. So when did we bury that and switch over to a ‘lateral thinking’ education? Raju Narisetty managing editor, The Washington Post, says (in an interview to an Indian journalist) “Indian education system doesn’t allow critical thinking” which could be true because our students have knowledge but do not use it when it comes to translating the knowledge to application. Optimists say the scenario is changing now and it would be great if it were true, but then why would higher education think of a finishing school to make the students ‘employability-ready’ if they had the ability to apply?

Says Vadrevu Chinaveerabharudu, poet, writer and educationist, “Critical thinking has always been there in our Upanishads, Chandogya Upanishad gives a simple example of the Guru asking shishya or disciple to get a banyan seed and break it open-when the disciple does that, he asks the student to tell him what’s inside (if he can see the banyan tree), upon which the student says ‘nothing’. The guru then says ‘soul’ is just like this which seems like nothing but generates and drives the creation. Bhadrudu says “The much talked about Bloom’s Taxonomy is inspired from Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – a theory which is again presumably influenced by similar facts mentioned in Taittiriya Upanishad.”

Then where did we let go this wonderful tool which were supposed to stay with us as a parampara? In Bhadrudu’s words “Obviously, we are following the British education system with a 50 years gap”.

Thinking is but a natural process for all of us, but how to streamline the thoughts and turn them into constructive ones is the challenge. Quality education fosters the right kind of thinking which in turn helps the students to crystallise their thoughts and produce desired results. Whatever the origin may be, lets don ‘thinking hats’ for our own well-being.

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