Teach them how, not what, to think

One of the major weakness of our education system today is that we subdue and limit the progress of thinking. Students in school are being taught that there is only one answer to a problem; no room for other possibilities - as they usually seemed wild, unimaginable, and out of context - are given. For instance, when a mathematics teacher asks the students in a class the question: "One day, in a class of 40 students, 23 students fell sick. How many students went to school that day?" A "tamed" mind, with simple thinking, will most probably answer "17", to which the teacher would give praise. Consider, however, the answers which little kids - their minds still pure from being tainted by schooling - would give: "That day is a holiday, so nobody went to school"; "Even though they're sick, they still went to school"; "Others who are not sick, played truant, so very few came to school"; ...and so forth. With the exception of very few cases, schooling nowadays in general are too rigid. The problem is, matters in life are not rigid, they're dynamic.

I still remember a few years back how a disciplinary teacher - unnecessarily - slapped a student in the face for sitting outside the class when he was expected to be in class for night prep. The student went on to be expelled from that particular school at the end of the year, only to become one of the top students at his new school.

Most of the schools I know of, because of the nature of our education system, give too much attention on preserving the school's academic performance, measured by academic achievements, that naturally academically non-performing students are marginalised. It is important to note that it is usually these academically non-performing students who are highly creative, innovative and resourceful. Want proof? Just try to name one company CEO, or a successful businessman, or a successful organization leader who was once a straight 'A's student. You might find some, but there aren't many. Most of the "successful" people are those who "failed" in the normal education system.

I stumbled across a very interesting picture of an examination paper in Facebook some time ago:
Measured by the answer scheme of this exam paper, this student will get no marks for that answer. Such a pity, for the answer by all means could probably be very true. Because he got zero marks for that answer, he will soon learn that such thinking will not help him in the future; hence, the process of subduing the thinking prowess of the mind.

That's the problem: we teach students on "what" to think, and not "how" to think. Although, later, we wanted the students to know "how" to think, except that whenever the "how" contradicts with the "what", the students got penalised and so as they grow older, the "how" is limited to go only within the scope of the "what". When we teach a person only on "what" to think, and not "how" to think, isn't that almost similar to programming a robot? So what exactly are we producing from schools? - Robots. Rigid and fragile.

Anyway, I was actually reading a short writing in the New Straits Times which I'd like to share. It's the title, actually, that interests me. "EDUCATION POLICY: Teach them how, not what, to think", written by Jose Mario Dolor De Vega from Subang Jaya, Selangor. I do not agree 100% with the writing, but like I said, it's the title that interests me.

p.s.: There are, of course, boundaries, rules and guides that must be set in order for a thinking mind to be beneficial and produce good...
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