Today, information is available at the click of mouse or a tap on the smartphone. This is considered to be a major blow to the current education system, which has focused only on students learning lots of different facts and being knowledgeable.
In this information-rich world, power lies with those who are adaptable to new situations rather than the those who know everything about what used to be cutting edge 10 years ago. Thus, it is important to impart real-world skills in students. Doing so can enable them to connect with what they learn to the world around them, develop problem-solving ability and be able to learn new things constantly. The key real-world skill here is critical thinking and problem-solving.
For many parents, career is not something to be worried about until a child graduates or finishes his or her studies. Consider the fact that 93% of the companies look at the candidate's critical thinking and problem-solving skills over their academic degree while hiring. This clearly shifts the balance in favour of developing critical thinking skills. So, it is important that these skills are developed early so that the students can thrive in the workplace.
Here are five reasons why starting early helps:
A younger mind is easier to mould: It's cliched, but true. Younger students have a naturally open-minded way of thinking. Nurtured in the right way, with quality education in critical thinking, the thinking ability of a child can be greatly expanded at this age.
It improves their interest in academics: Critical thinking provides an approach where students are encouraged to connect what they are learning in the classroom with the real world around them. The approach forces them to engage deeply with what they are learning, to make sense of it and imbibe it even deeper. Students can witness a significant increase of interest in academics when they feel like they are learning something worthwhile rather than just memorising things for the next exam.
Critical thinking is a habit of the mind: Like any habit, starting early helps. Students who get used to looking at problems in an innovative manner develop the confidence early on to take on new challenges. Over time, this faculty can be developed even further and it becomes ingrained in the child's mind.
Critical thinking has its own curriculum: Like Maths and Science, there are methodical steps to develop critical thinking at every age. There are building blocks which must be put in place to help students attain the level of thinking required when they enter college or the workplace. A child who starts the curriculum in Class 6 is far ahead of a child joining in Class 8 because there are building blocks which need to be put in place before the Class 8 student can study the higher level material.
Competitive exams: Fundamental skills like verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and problem-solving form the foundation of all competitive exams.
Students who are trained in formal critical thinking skills have demonstrated better technique and grasping power, resulting in better results in competitive exams, when compared to those who only solve question papers.
(The author is co-founder, Callido Learning LLP, Mumbai)