"Education... has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading." G. M. Trevelyan
Research in stockpile grandeur proves that sizzling innovators and inventors, thrilling world speakers, movers and shakers of our time are critical thinkers.
Critical thinking enables them to analyse, weigh, assess and with mathematical precision come to reasoned conclusions. Critical thinkers dine with objectivity. They literally seep from the cup of intuition, challenge the butterflies of stale knowledge, cross pollinate the old with the new and produce a hybrid of breathtaking arguments, theories and discoveries.
Critical thinkers do not allow traditional thoughts or stereotype notions to encircle the parachute ability of their minds. They embrace the refreshing ability of their minds to fly to unimaginable horizons.
Theirs is a CONSTRUCTIVE articulation of facts, statistics, logic and towering arguments!
Innovators, great speakers and debaters alike are critical thinkers!
Today, the domain of critical thinking has produced world icons like Barack Obama, Condoliza Rice, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Salton Massaly, Kevin Doe etc. One thing they all have in common is that they have dared to confront old swaying notions and by the force of their critical minds convince or solve problems.
CRITICAL THINKING A MISSING PIECE IN OUR EDUCATIONAL MATRIX
John Gardner in assessing the educational system said "much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants."
Critical thinking has not been a valued ingredient in the preparation of students to meet the rising challenge and demands of the time.
It amazes one to see students discuss issues and become so entrenched in speaking emotions, biases or sentiments. Theirs is a banter of subjective opinions, instead of objective facts.
Sound logical reasoning, subjective and objective angles to an issue and presentation of rock solid facts and statistics are a luxury in the essays and discussions of many students. Hence, this limitation causes a good number of students or even graduates to lose their relevance in the face of proper intellectual discourse. Their limited angles in looking at issues result in an impairment of sound judgement.
Apparently, our curricula do not help in moulding our students to become better critical thinkers and constructive speakers. More often than not, students are taught what to think and not how to think. They do not have the liberty to ferry their reasoned reactions on issues. Their specialisation is merely reproduction of notes given or myths shoved down their threads of thought.
This inglorious model of education suffocates growth, starves innovation and cripples development.
Knowledge or theory does not have a single side to it. We must constantly allow our students to explore the triangular, quadrilateral, hexagonal or even decagonal sides to a theory or thought that has held sway for centuries. The thought patterns of our students should not be annexed to oscillate around regurgitation. It is destructive!
"Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model."( Kalam)
Research is one of the ways students can be exposed to the vast and multidimensional sides to a theory. Letting them discover things for themselves through research comes with its excitement and lasting impact.
A conscious effort to encourage our students to use their thinking faculties in view of critical thought will aid their independence and boost their self confidence. This is an invaluable resource in massaging innovative minds and guiding constructive essays and discussions.
Hence, our drive to come with a national inter-collegiate debate exercise will extol the domain of critical thinking, stir research and guide constructive speech. This is crucial to help cushion the rough, unreasoned and sentimentally driven views expressed by students or young people.
Debating exercises test a lot in our students. In fact, it is a giant way to promote critical thinking. Debating helps students to do research, builds their critical minds, fosters constructive speech and sharpens their intellectual antenna to account for every morsel of word uttered.
As we draw ever close to our national elections, it will be most fitting to engage young people through debates to be careful of making inflammatory statements and statements that lack any iota of facts or even meet logical threshold.
Together, we will lay the concrete blocks for peace, by checkmating the words or statements that cause strife in our society.
The young people are in the majority, let us raise the awareness and benefits of speaking right. It does so much good to speak constructively. It starts by thinking critically!
©Sierra Leone Debating Council 🇸🇱
CAMPAIGN FOR CONSTRUCTIVE SPEECH
By Moses Moore Conteh
Sierra Leone Debating Council