Imparting critical thinking skills

28 December 2022
Imparting critical thinking skills

Alaul Alam :
In all branches of knowledge critical thinking is being considered as one of the most importantsoft skills. The people with critical thinking skills are highly appreciated in the global job market. According to the World Economic Forum, critical thinking is one of the most desirable skills that help someone analyze information, think outside the box, solve problems with innovative solutions, and plan systematically.
To ensure knowledge-based economy countries are prioritizing soft skills of their people. They are investing much to build up quality human resources to address the challenges in the 21st century. However, many think that in the age of fourth industrial revolution do we need to have critical thinking skills when automation is all around and artificial intelligence has been the substitute of human brain? Certainly, we find no alternative to enhancing our critical thinking skills to bring out the possibilities and to cope with the challenges in the age of fourth industrial revolution.
Many countries have brought critical thinking to the education curriculum to develop critical thinking skills of students. They are giving much effort to equip learners with creativity and critical thinking skills. Studies have revealed that desired outcomes of education cannot be achieved unless teachers are able to enhance the hearts of their learners with creativity and innovations. Experts claim that sustainable education is almost impossible unless students are equipped with critical thinking skills.
In Bangladesh it is commonly noticed that most of the organizations look for the employees who have enhanced themselves with creativity and critical thinking. But they find a great number of job seekers incompetent to be recruited. Despite holding higher degree they fail to prove their necessary soft skills required to manage a good job. According to a study, lack of critical thinking skills among Bangladeshi students has a negative effect on their employment prospects and success in the work place.
Over the years changes have been noticed in the education system and curriculum of our country. Planners and experts concerned in the field of education are constantly claiming that they are prioritizing innovative education to produce quality human resources.
A few years back when the creative approach in secondary and higher secondary education was adopted, it was supposed that this approach would enhance students' creativity and grow their free thinking ability. But things have not been proved in line with our expectation. Usually, students are found to go through guidebooks and memorize the answers of the creative questions. Guidebook- dependent education interrupts to discover the potential of the students. Not only that, it affects the creative faculty of the learners negatively.
Causes are many for which creative education method is struggling in our country. Studies have revealed that the lack of trained teachers, partial knowledge of the students about the creative method and accessibility to guidebooks are contributing to the unsuccessful application of the method.
Things get frustrating when we see that even the students of tertiary level do not possess critical thinking ability. In this era when many countries are reaping every benefit making their youths critical thinkers and potential innovators, our education system has hardly introduced any course on developing critical thinking skills of our youths.
It is no denial that tertiary education of the country is expected to play a pivotal role to turn the graduates into human resources. But what we see in reality that in most cases tertiary education system is unable to meet the needs of the society and the state. The traditional lecture-based education along with motivating students to memorization is still rampant at tertiary education level. The question is pertinent; do our teachers have any concern to make our new generation critical thinkers?
The new generation is called the digital natives. They have been in touch with technological devices since their birth. Obviously, they are more advanced in technological knowledge and skills than the digital immigrants who are trying to cope with the era of technology. It is no denial that technology has made our life smart but how far we have been enhanced with critical thinking skills? In many cases we have been dull of thinking in using our critical approaches due to the excessive dependence on technological devices.
In this smart age we have more scopes to know about anything in a second searching google engine. Google plays an important role to satisfy our inquisitive mind. As a university teacher I think, examples are many that instead of enriching our knowledge and skills many students and teachers are copying others and losing their critical ability to think and judge the right and wrong in their life. In the digital age reading habit among the youths has declined to a worrying level. But we see no alternative to reading to enhancing critical thinking ability.
There raisearguments in the global teaching and learning arena that classroom should be student -centered. But what is the guarantee that students will raise questions and think everything critically in the student-centered class? In many cases it cannot be. Many students like to remain unresponsive in the class. Many have poor critical analysis skills and cannot deliver their arguments skillfully.
How far the country will be benefitted with them as they hardly havein-depth knowledge and critical thinking ability on what they have already seen and learnt? However, experts opine that encouraging students to ask questions in the classroom helps them to be creative thinkers more effectively than confining them to rigorous exams. To this end, to ensure a knowledge-based economy and higher education towards sustainability fostering critical thinking skills in youths is a must.

(Alaul a research scholar at the IBS teaches at Prime University).

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