There is much hope when we see our children go to school or university, as a nation’s success and prosperity partly lie in them.
Universally, the goal of education is to transmit knowledge and develop children. But challenges faced in each era give birth to different goals of education.
For instance, the general goal of education in ancient Sparta was to produce soldier citizens. In ancient Athens, it was to produce individuals good at the art of peace and war.
In ancient Rome, the goal was to produce good orators. In the 19th century, the goal of education in Europe was to be good at reading, writing, and religion.
Learning To Think, from Anthony Gormley’s Suspended and Gravity Works, 1984 to 2012 collection, which treats the body of the room as if it were a filled swimming pool.
In America, it was to be good at science, nature studies and matters of everyday life.
In the 20th century, as conditions of the world changed, the goal of education was to produce industrious, well-informed and innovative individuals.
Having this goal made the United States the strongest nation in the world.
Now, the world’s population has grown manifold and life’s complexities have increased.
To survive or to stay in power, nations clamour for resources.
In this light, the more suitable goal of education is to produce individuals who can think to manufacture merchandise for international markets.
We need to prepare individuals to be thinkers and innovators. Edward de Bono, a thinker who originated the term “lateral thinking”, suggested that thinking be made a subject.
Considering how great a part thinking has played in the feats of mankind, will it help if we introduced thinking as a subject to our young?
Providing a focus on thinking can be an impetus to creating thinking people. Thinking may sound like it is suitable only for adults but it may not be so.
The content and tools of thinking can be fine-tuned to the age of learners.
At present, the training of thinking is mostly practised in linguistics, philosophy or psychology courses taught in universities.
But, learning thinking in this setting may not produce thinkers, as the learners, in this case, are more focused on mastering the subjects, not the thinking.
If thinking were to be made a subject, it would encourage learners to treat thinking and their other subjects equally.
Having it as a subject also offers the young “thinking time” in which thinking can be a foundation to create a habit of thinking.
The thinking subject would also prompt students to read, as thinking will develop as they read.
Correspondingly, the understanding of content during reading deepens thinking.
In the thinking subject, learners will be required to think beyond the common descriptions of a phenomenon.
It helps untie one’s way of seeing things from the confines of past descriptions.
In this case, learners will be more aware of the variations of scope of information.
For example, if a cat chases a mouse, the common description is that the mouse will run in front of the cat horizontally.
But, instead, can we train a child’s mind that if the mouse is chased by a cat, it may also run downwards or upwards (vertically)?
To do so, a child should be exposed to information out of the ordinary. A thinking subject can train the young to consider other variables and information when observing and expecting any occurrence.
Hence, in the case of cat-chases-mouse, we can tell a child that the mouse may also run downwards or upwards if it is chased on a tilted column.
Or, ask where would the mouse run if it is chased in outer space, such as at the International Space Station.
Other than the range of information, the methods of thinking to be taught can be collected, merged or isolated from the various fields, such as linguistics, philosophy or psychology.
Other methods of thinking that have been invented and written can be included, such as the one taught in seminars, classes or short courses, like mind-mapping, or how to think scientifically, critically or intuitively.
Solving riddles requires thinking, too.
We may recall our teachers throwing riddles at us. To solve the riddles, we thought deeply and attempted to answer many times. Whether we were correct or wrong, we laughed excitedly.
The use of riddles can be a fun way of encouraging children to think beyond the norm. Projects that require trial and error can be included in the subject of thinking.
Samples of projects done all over the world, which are so richly shown on certain TV channels, such as National Geographic, be shown to learners.
However, thinking is an activity that will not bring immediate commercial value or tangible results.
Hence, to execute it, there must be a group of people who have a keen belief that thinking can be taught explicitly, and who will work on the design of thinking tools for each level of student.
The affairs of education such as this requires patience and perseverance. But we will reap what we sow.