Critical Thinking and our Education System By Waqar Hassan

Critical Thinking and our Education System By Waqar Hassan

THE brain follows the principles it is trained on. Continuously instructing the brain to memorize and replicate without thinking shapes it into a system that avoids thinking creatively and excels at reproducing familiar concepts. The consequence of this is the death of intellect and growth. A striking reality is revealed by the progress graph of nations, indicating that those nations that preferred adopting critical thinking achieved maximum progress. Critical thinking is a tool that nations employ to develop a competitive edge in every area of life. When education systems stray from critical learning and resort to rote memorization, the development of innovative minds is stifled.

In our educational realm, the idea of critical thinking has yet to become a reality. The educational system in our schools and colleges emphasizes rote learning as a key factor in determining a student’s career success. Paying a surprise visit to any school in Pakistan might reveal a disturbing truth: Students mainly learn how to cram their syllabus and take pride in reproducing the same content on papers, thinking they are on the path to excellence. It’s similar to condemning future generations to a life of darkness. Regrettably, students often don’t appreciate the practical value of their education until it’s too late, leaving them feeling regretful about their past with little hope for the future. Sadly, except for a few schools and colleges, the focus on fostering critical thinking in young students is declining.

Are we truly headed towards a bright future? Analyzing the effects of having this educational system is necessary to answer the question. The school years are a critical period for brain development, where the brain can become a hub of growth and prosperity. If students are provided with a non-productive environment during this time, they will fail to develop the minimum capacity to achieve something exceptional in their lifetime. The growth process of such individuals experiences a steady decline when they start their professional career.

Such a system generates mindsets that hinder the ability of future leaders, teachers and social influencers to think innovatively. Failure to think critically can lead these individuals to cause social, political and economic decline in a state. Education systems can change the fate of nations. The ability to think better leads to better decision-making. Nations that value critical thinking in their education systems thrive in all domains. Japan and Singapore have abandoned the concept of grading students and are focusing on developing the mindset of their youths. This visionary approach of these countries has brought evident outcomes of prosperity, surpassing all the nations in the region.

Productive schooling has a lasting impact on the social, political and economic sectors. Societies that value critical thinking over memorization tend to foster individuals who contribute more effectively to building a sustainable social structure. Additionally, these people exhibit enhanced political acumen and make wise choices while picking their leaders. Innovative thinking is a prerequisite of development in the modern world and critical thinking supports it. The ability to think critically can lead individuals to transform their lives during challenging times. In today’s world, where depression and frustration are common, this serves as an antidote to both.

A nation that produces critical thinkers enables its leaders to govern with greater confidence. Leading such a nation becomes easy for leaders, but forcefully driving them becomes impossible. Thriving democracies have succeeded because their education system has developed individuals who can think critically and help solve national challenges across all fields. When schools and colleges promote productive learning, a nation experiences peace, tranquillity and social stability. Populist leaders find it difficult to manipulate critical thinkers with their hollow slogans. Such individuals abide by laws to create an environment for growth and prosperity.

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Today, we are witnessing several social evils such as extremism, social division, polarization, poverty, declining democratic values and political hatred. The learning system we have is responsible for generating people who can only think in a specific manner. This means that individuals with such a mindset will accept any input without analyzing it critically. In this age of battles of minds, critical thinking has become essential. Without enabling our people to discern what’s good and what’s bad for them and their country, how can we compete and fight in the contemporary world? Innovation in the education sector is necessary to equip future generations with critical thinking skills to lead successful individual lives and become catalysts for societal change. The need of the hour is an immediate change in the learning environment. Classrooms should prioritize understanding over memorization.

The ability of teachers to encourage critical thinking in students is crucial in this context. The classroom environment needs to encourage students to ask questions and teachers should help them build confidence to think creatively. Furthermore, our evaluation system necessitates a drastic change by incorporating problem-based questions that require pupils to employ their education to tackle practical issues in their daily lives and surroundings. The exams need to evaluate students’ views on various situations that relate to what they have learned. Moreover, the exam system for matric and intermediate levels should include studying case studies of successful nations as a mode of learning meaningful lessons for national success, expecting students to apply them to our social, political and economic problems.

The teaching methodology needs a massive transformation. To achieve this, the selection process for teachers will need a complete overhaul to focus on selecting teachers who can make it happen for the students and the country. This method is the sole way to create individuals with the skill set to tackle social, political and economic issues. Research-based education should be given in universities to enable students to apply their learning to real-life situations. The significance of critical learning in education has been acknowledged worldwide and it is time for us to prioritize this goal. Disregarding the warning means the system will only generate youngsters who will never achieve the capacity and ability to transform national discourse.

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—The writer is CSS Officer, based in Sargodha.

Email: waqarhassancsp@gmail.com

Critical Thinking and our Education System By Waqar Hassan

Source: foreignaffairs.com/ukraine/will-west-abandon-ukraine

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