Saturday, March 31, 2007

Think, think, think...critically

According to a recent insert in the Dallas Morning News, the most important skill for people to succeed in the business world??

Critical thinking.

Do we encourage that in our kids?

MBA programs, the insert explained, hand people cases/scenarios and ask them to look at and discuss them critically. How much do we prepare our children for that level of critical thinking?

How often do we ask our kids what they think about something and why? How well do we teach them to network and get to know people from different sectors so that they have more than their isolated corner of the world to draw from? How does the fact that our children (especially our urban children) are segregated...from other ethnicities, other socioeconomic levels, technology access, resourced schools, etc...impact their future?

Check out these facts:

Skills recruiters find attractive in MBA graduates:
Ability to think analytically............78%
Ability to think strategically..........71%
Quantitative skills 58%
Leadership skills 56%
Oral communication skills 53%
Creative problem-solving skills 52%
Ability to integrate information 51%
Project management/implementation skills 51%

Skills recruiters feel MBA graduates need to strengthen:
People management 35%
Leadership skills 30%
Interpersonal skills 26%

I would argue that these skills are not limited to being a necessity in MBA programs.

What are we doing about it for our lowest income, lowest performing kids? They deserve to know, and be taught, this "secret."

When I was in grad school, a professor stated that something like 60% of the jobs of our future have not even been thought of yet. Though I can't seem to find that statistic anywhere, it makes sense to me. Our world is changing fast. Technology is very different now than when I was in school...and that wasn't that long ago! Despite this fact, I see critical thinking being taught less and less.

Are our schools teaching these critical thinking skills?...or does the school and the area where you live determine whether you receive these higher order thinking skills?

As parents, teachers, and community members, are we fighting for everyone's kids...or are we only concerned when the outcome affects our own children?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

YES! Kudos for critical thinkers. I was challenged a few years ago by a student and parent when the student responded with a wrong answer on a short essay test and received only 2 of the 5 points available. Sadly, I GAVE him the 2 points just for getting 1 of the 5 possible answers correct...guess I felt generous at the time.
However, the student and parent met with my principal and I was called to the office. All converstations ended when I said, "Explain to me how this answer shows you [the student] are a critical thinker. That you can put two and two together and realize it's four. That you examined both sides of an issue and determined the correct answer." My principal was stunned. And the parent and student went silent.

A small battle won. Fortunately, I work under great administration and I have great students who realize I will not lower my expectations and try hard in my classroom.

That is what it's about. This isn't or shouldn't be a big secret. I feel all of us in the field of education should take value in teaching our children to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. EVERY day, people are faced with situations where problems need to be solved. And it's the age old adage of "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," in action. But we have to teach our students the process of making good decisions and solving problems do we do that? Practice. We practice basketball, we practice soccer, we practice the piano, but when it comes to the classroom, we don't practice problem-solving do that, we have to employ a variety of lesson plans where our students are required to be critical thinkers.

My dad always told me practice didn't make you perfect...but perfect practice did. You can't expect to get better results if you are just ho-humming around, goofing off, or getting by as a teacher. Every day needs to be utilzed not only as a learning experience for the student, but also the teacher. And transforming classroom and lessons plans into critical thinking laboratories will provide this generation with probably the single most important life skill.