“The public has learned that instant answer giving is the most important sign of an educated man”

-Neil Postman-

Nowadays, ‘answers’ are too easy to find.  How often have you seen somebody reach for their phone when a question is posed?  Instant answers, rather than thoughtful consideration or well thought-out, better questions, seem to be the new measure of success. But instant answers usually measure just two things: the ability to memorise or the access to technology.  Think Facebook posts, Tweets from Twitter, Whatsapp messages, Blogs etc – how many are carefully thought out and posted, tweeted or sent?

The reality (and we must acknowledge this) is that we all think we have the ‘answers’!  Usually these ‘answers’ are on our phones, tablets or computers via the internet.  However, how many people truly have the ability (or desire) to ask the right questions or analyse the answers they receive?  Separating fact from fiction has always been a vital skill.  Nowadays, there is another equally important skill – the ability to identify relevant information within these so-called facts.

Of course, it is not about the devices that we have.  Most people have access to technology, but the more we seem to invest in the latest and best technology, the less we seem to be investing in the most amazing gadget:  our minds.

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom”

-Isaac Asimov-

Critical thinking is the ability to ask effective questions and formulate original solutions.  It is self-directed, self-monitored and self-corrective.  It is not easy and requires self-discipline in order to allow one to question new information and continuously analyse the results.  A word of caution: this is not an optional skill in the 21st century!  We must all (and encourage our children to do so) ask the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions, remembering that in most cases there are more than two faces to each coin!

Within education, children are finding traditional educational models less and less relevant to their lives and the ever-changing world around them.  Schools can do better, they must do better. Schools must make learning skills more important than memorisation skills.  Courses like Theory of Knowledge, Learning to Learn and the constructivist classroom (as proposed by many, including John Dewey) are one way to bring relevance to our students.  The curriculum also plays a big part as do families.  Let’s  support each other in this important aspect of our lives and continue investing in your childrens minds.

A serious problem right now is the gap between our skill and our wisdom. Today, deep reflection about our future circumstances is eclipsed by the rush to build faster, cheaper, smarter, more-efficient gadgets.  Society’s best brains are saturated with immediate issues that become ever more complex, rather than reflecting on why we are doing this and what the long-term consequences will be.

-James Martin, Oxford University-

The ability to learn, practice, and analyse is at the heart of critical thinking, which is the key to closing the wisdom gap.

A lot of innovation is needed to solve the serious problems we face in this world (global warming, economic crises, food and water shortages). Additionally, the very quick changes and developments in technology not only make it ever so important to learn newer skills, but also that we are continually assessing the results and impacts of new traits and initiatives. This ability to learn, practice, and analyse is at the heart of critical thinking, which many consider the key to closing the wisdom gap in our country.

Yasir Patel

Sources:

2 thoughts on “Investing in the Mind

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