You will have heard the statement “beating the stuffing out of . . . whatever or whoever”. What about beating “the working” into someone? Is that part of developing critical thinking, which folks in education often say is the purpose of education?
The Critical Thinking Community website defines critical thinking thus: “. . . that mode of thinking — about any subject, content, or problem — in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skilfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it. Critical thinking is self-directed,
self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities, as well as a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.”
Just focus on the word “self”.
The Critical Thinking Community, however, goes on to discuss the etymology and dictionary definition of critical thinking in which they make several points, one of which is germane to my topical concern, and that has to do with a current radio advertisement directed at those children who are to taking Common Entrance Examination tomorrow.
Is it really the common exit (from primary school) exam? The advertisement enjoins the students not to forget to “show the working”.
The web article says in part: “As teachers, too often we allow ourselves to uncritically teach as we have been taught, giving assignments that students can mindlessly do, inadvertently discouraging their initiative and independence, missing opportunities to cultivate their self-discipline and thoughtfulness . . . .”
I know that over the years many poor children have been beaten both by parents and teachers all because they “did not show the working”.
Those who did the beating and some who still probably do the beating, perhaps never thought or still do not recognize that the child who knows the answers without “showing the working” is a very gifted child. Those teachers still “teach as they were taught”.
What teaching needs to do in order to develop what the website defines as “a well cultured critical thinker” is, inter alia, to communicate “effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems”. What this says to me is that the teacher, or for that matter the parent, needs to encourage the child to explain the thought processes/thinking that allows them to arrive at the answer “just like that”.
I believe that all across Barbados adults are today, right this minute, amazed at the abilities of children, some as young as one year old. These children have special gifts. Please don’t try to beat these gifts out of the children, whether it is seeing beings who are in a different dimension –– meaning if your child is talking to someone you can’t see but they can –– or if they know the answers without the need to “show the working”.
That is their gift; encourage them, don’t beat it out of them by “beating the working into them”.
Fortunately, nobody has tried to beat the working into me yet.
–– MICHAEL RUDDER