Bill O’Chee wrote recently that the current fixation on creativity in schools is ‘anti-intellectual’. He asserts that “while creativity is important, from sciences to the arts, what is more important is rigorous thinking.” O’Chee states that what today’s learners need from their education is to “learn how to think deeply.”
If critical thinking is the precursor to creativity, then how do we develop and assess this skill in teachers so that reading critically, analysing data and formulating ideas is intuitive?
Fareed Zakaria, author of the recently published In Defense of a Liberal Education, states that education must satisfy two important aspects: creativity and causality. First you must be able to engage in ‘out of the box thinking’ and then have the ‘rigor and clarity’ with respect to what you are arguing about.
Zakaria makes the point that in a global age where information is retrievable in seconds, we still insist that students learn superficial facts while forgoing the deeper questions of ‘why’. As my colleague, Dr Miranda Jefferson says, it’s about asking ‘why’ and then ‘why, really?’
In a recent blog post Yong Zhao discusses the two competing educational paradigms. He writes that “employee-oriented education values what children should learn, while entrepreneur-oriented education values what children would learn.”
By its very nature, an entrepreneur-oriented education is classically liberal. It encourages students to follow their passions in search of deeper understanding and mastery. To think critically is to always be asking ‘why’ and it is in this journey of student discovery that the nature of teacher’s work takes shape.
If we want schools to be places where creative modes of practice flow freely, then it requires teachers and students to be continually engaged in critical modes of thinking.