(File pix) Students who are critical thinkers overflow with what Walt Whitman called “unique vitality”. Pix by Faiz Anuar

THE Malaysian education system is said to be a role model for other countries.

There is no doubt about Malaysia having many qualified and knowledgeable doctorate-holders who have come from the existing education system.

We must admit that most of them have contributed in the development of society and the state.

But there are too few scholars who publicly criticise our education system.

Teaching and using basic methods in the classroom has been an interesting issue in training for a considerable length of time, with new developments and methodology being pushed into schools.

“Critical thinking” is “the target investigation and assessment of an issue to shape a judgment”. Translated it into teaching, it is teaching students to be scholarly thinkers, with psychological, cognitive and personal skills, who manage to give feedback into any idea, who challenge “great thinkers”, and are never self-satisfied and meek.

They overflow with what American poet-essayist-journalist Walt Whitman called “unique vitality”.

Our students, though scored in their Malaysian Certificate of Education, Form Three Assessment or Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah, are said to be poor thinkers.

Many writings mentioned that critical thinking is necessary “to prepare for life and citizenship, college and career” and yet not many solutions are given on how to “work out the critical thinking stages”.

Most articles will say critical thinking is “a cure-for-all”, solution or remedy for all difficulties in teaching and learning.

The curriculum and assessment bodies describe it as “developing the critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills students will need to be successful”.

The International Centre for the Assessment of Higher Order Thinking, which promotes critical thinking in the classroom, says “the problems we now face, and will increasingly face, require a radically different form of thinking, thinking that is more complex, more adaptable, more sensitive to divergent points of view.”

There is significantly more to retain than to study.

Before turning into a thinker or mastermind, you must first be a learner.

I’m sure there is a less demanding approach. We are a country that needs to hack everything, including learning.

However, in spite of the abundance of voices clamouring about critical thinking, several people have noticed that an accentuation on that has got us into an inconvenience.

“We have overlooked what is important.

“We have failed to show that one can’t think basically without a considerable amount of information to consider.

“Thinking includes looking into and integrating what one has realised. Also, a lot of information is fundamental before one can start to consider its significance and search for clarifications.” (Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education at New York University).

So, don’t push too hard on critical thinking skills. Instead, we need the correct way for us to follow. Please.

Azizi Ahmad, Kuala Lumpur

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