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DEVELOPING CRITICAL THINKING 
ByDr. Thilagavathi G. Joseph   posted on01 Apr, 12 2874 Views 0 Comments Life Skills Add to favorite







DEVELOPING SKEPTICAL/CRITICAL THINKING AMONG STUDENTS ABSTRACT

Soft Skills Training is the most widely talked about subject in academic circles these days because educationists and policy makers seem to think that it opens the door to a successful career. Yet, if soft skills training is just offered without a proper objective and planning it is sheer waste of time and resources. The paper attempts to locate the causes for the lack of critical thinking and the ability to ask questions prevalent among Indian students, and explores the various aspects of these skills and the means of developing them. A change in the teacher’s approach to her own self training and her perception of learners as thinking individuals is recommended. Encouraging students to ask questions, even if it amounts to questioning the teacher or the expert is the crucial factor that should be incorporated into the educational system, if we wish to see future intelligent Indians.

Life Skills and Soft skills are terms that are often used interchangeably and it may be justifiable in the current scenario as there is no life without soft skills. Soft Skills are related to a person’s "EQ" (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), Hard Skills are related to a person\\'s IQ (Intelligence Quotient). Life skills on the other hand are not just limited to a person’s intelligence but span a wider spectrum, those skills which mould an individual into a ‘good citizen’ as well. India needs not just good employees but good citizens, and hence it is the responsibility of teachers to imbue in their students skills which will fetch them good careers and more importantly, those skills or attributes which will mould them into good Indians. The concern now is how to train the teachers to be good trainers of students in skills needed for life and career.

When Clay Parker, president of the Chemical Management Division of a company was asked about the skills he looks for when he hires young people, he replied thus: “First and foremost, I look for someone who asks good questions," "We can teach them the technical stuff, but we can\\'t teach them how to ask good questions — how to think" (Wagner). This is the area that Indian educators need to look into for the creation of a young India of critical and creative thinkers.

Secondary education in India is driven by goals which are grounded in narrow definitions of achievement. The aim of education seems to be the stuffing of brains with an overload of knowledge which may certainly result in a knowledge society. We should agree with Foucault that knowledge is power; yet, knowledge without the ability to discern and to discriminate may have adverse ends. It also entails the harm of creating passive recipients of knowledge, who neither question the matter handed out to them, nor attempt to critically evaluate the matter and form their own opinions. The immense task of tapping the creativity of children lies in the hands of school teachers.

A young child, as we know, is full of questions and as the child enters the class room, this curiosity is nipped in the bud, as the child is expected to be a passive listener and not an active questioner. The only chance given to the child to talk is when she/he is expected to repeat after the teacher or to answer questions posed by the teacher; not original and different answers but those which have been already transferred from the texts. The questions that keep arising in the minds of the child go unanswered and soon the child stops questioning. What can teachers do to keep their curiosity alive, the curiosity which leads to creativity and innovation? What can they do to inculcate critical thinking which leads to understanding and maturity?

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