July 21st, 2012

Menggubal semula dasar pendidikan negara

"DASAR pendidikan negara akan dirombak semula selepas lebih 50 tahun Dasar Razak dan Dasar Rahman Talib dihasilkan. Sekiranya draf kajian semula sistem pendidikan ini dapat disediakan di akhir tahun ini maka akan dibawa kepada Kabinet untuk diluluskan. Dasar baru itu dijangka akan dilaksanakan mulai tahun hadapan." Demikian di antara intipati ucapan Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin dalam majlis penutupan Dailog Nasional Pendidikan Negara yang diadakan di Johor Bahru, baru-baru ini.

Mahu tak mahu penggubalan semula dasar pendidikan negara perlu dilakukan bagi memastikan ia lebih berkesan. Perubahan tersebut mempunyai kaitan rapat dengan tuntutan perubahan masa dan keperluan negara menjelang tahun 2020.

Kini matlamat pendidikan bukan sahaja menekankan isu perpaduan rakyat tetapi yang lebih penting memastikan pelajar yang dihasilkan melalui sistem tersebut mempunyai kebolehpasaran pekerjaan dan berupaya menjana pendapatan yang tinggi.

Jika ditinjau semula sejarah pendidikan selepas merdeka perkembangannya boleh dibahagikan kepada empat peringkat. Peringkat pertama ialah selepas penggubalan Dasar Razak (1956), Dasar Rahman Talib (1961) dan Penyata Kabinet (1970).

Ketiga-tiga dasar ini menekankan tentang keperluan perpaduan di kalangan rakyat pelbagai kaum dan akses pendidikan iaitu memberi peluang kepada pelajar luar bandar mendapat pendidikan yang lebih baik.

Peringkat kedua apabila diperkenalkan Falsafah Pendidikan Kebangsaan (FPN) pada 1988 yang menekankan perkembangan seimbang potensi pelajar dari segi jasmani, emosi, rohani dan intelek (JERI). FPN juga memasukkan nilai-nilai murni dalam pengajaran dan pembelajaran guru bertujuan bagi mewujudkan masyarakat madani. Sementara itu, peringkat ketiga apabila bermulanya era ICT dan globalisasi di alaf baru tahun 2000. Ketika itu penekanan diberikan kepada bidang sains dan teknologi kerana perkembangan pesat negara dalam bidang industri dan ekonomi.

Kini sampailah ke peringkat keempat di mana negara sedang menuju kepada negara maju melalui Wawasan 2020. Penekanan akan diberikan kepada elemen kreativiti dan inovasi serta melahirkan pelajar yang berfikir secara kritis.

Di antara kriteria negara maju rakyatnya mesti mempunyai pendapatan tinggi, sedia bersaing, sanggup menghadapi cabaran dan mempunyai pelbagai kemahiran insaniah seperti komunikasi yang baik, berupaya membuat keputusan dan memiliki ciri kepimpinan yang unggul.

Persaingan ketika itu bukan lagi di kalangan rakyat tempatan tetapi penanda arasnya sudah tentu dengan rakyat di negara maju.

Keupayaan persaingan tersebut mestilah bermula daripada sistem pendidikan yang berkualiti. Sesungguhnya sistem pendidikan berkesan akan dapat melahirkan pelajar yang memiliki minda kelas pertama.

Penggubalan semula pendidikan ini merupakan anjakan berganda dalam sistem pendidikan kita. Dialog Nasional Pendidikan Negara akan merangka Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan (2013-2025).

Ia merangkumi pelan pembangunan dan pelan strategik program jangka pendek, sederhana dan panjang. Bagi memastikan pelaksanaan yang berkesan ia akan dilakukan mengikut fasa-fasa tertentu.

Menurut Muhyiddin sekiranya pelan tersebut dapat dilakukan lebih awal dari 15 tahun, maka sistem pendidikan negara mampu dilonjakkan setanding dengan negara maju yang lain.

Apa yang menariknya dalam menyediakan dasar pendidikan ini pandangan dan pendapat daripada beberapa pihak telah diambil kira. Di antaranya adalah pandangan Pertubuhan Pendidikan, Sains dan Kebudayaan Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (UNESCO), Bank Dunia, pasukan Panel Bebas dan Panel Antarabangsa yang dilantik. Selain itu, hasil Dialog Nasional Pendidikan Negara turut diambil kira dan dianggap sangat signifikan dalam menyediakan dasar baru itu.

Anggota panel dialog ini telah bertemu lebih 10,000 orang di seluruh negara. Dua kaedah yang dilakukan iaitu melalui sesi 'town hall' yang melibatkan antara 500 - 800 orang pada setiap pertemuan. Kaedah kedua melalui mesyuarat meja bulat iaitu pertemuan antara 20-40 orang yang terdiri daripada persatuan dan pertubuhan tertentu, NGO dan pihak berkepentingan dalam bidang pendidikan.

Kedua-dua kaedah ini telah menemukan anggota panel dengan hampir segenap lapisan masyarakat seperti golongan petani, pemandu teksi, pekerja kilang, peniaga, warga pendidik hinggalah kepada pelbagai latar belakang kumpulan profesional.

Melalui dialog tersebut nampaknya peserta menyuarakan pendapat masing-masing tentang bagaimanakah seharusnya sistem pendidikan yang berkualiti dilaksanakan.

Dalam siri dialog tersebut sebanyak sembilan bidang keutamaan disediakan iaitu dari segi profesion perguruan, kepimpinan sekolah, kualiti sekolah, kurikulum dan pentaksiran, profisiensi pelbagai bahasa, peluang lepasan menengah, ibu bapa dan sektor swasta, kecekapan sumber kementerian dan keupayaan sistem penyampaian kementerian. Walau bagaimanapun peserta dialog bebas memberikan pendapat mereka di luar bidang keutamaan tersebut.

Seperti yang dimaklumkan oleh Timbalan Perdana Menteri melalui analisis yang dilakukan terdapat tiga perkara yang agak popular dibangkitkan iaitu pertama berkaitan guru seperti profesionalisme keguruan, kebajikan guru dan proses pengajaran. Kedua mengenai aspirasi iaitu soal sistem dan masalah pelajar dan ketiga kualiti sekolah yang melibatkan struktur, infrastruktur dan jenis sekolah.

Menurutnya lagi, hasil dialog itu akan dikumpulkan sebelum dikemukakan kepada beliau untuk dibawa ke Kabinet dijangkakan hujung tahun ini bagi kelulusan dan seterusnya akan dilaksanakan pada tahun depan.

Ternyata bahawa penyediaan dasar baru pendidikan tersebut pandangan dan pendapat rakyat telah diberi keutamaan. Kaedah ini bersesuaian dengan saranan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak bahawa dalam menyediakan sesuatu dasar atau sistem sudah sampai masanya tidak semata-mata disediakan oleh pegawai kerajaan tetapi pandangan rakyat perlu didapatkan.

Sudah tentu pandangan mereka itu datangnya dari perasaan tulus ikhlas untuk melihat anak-anak mereka mendapat pendidikan yang berkualiti dan dapat menyumbang kepada pembangunan negara.

Moga-moga penggubalan dasar baru ini akan dapat menyediakan sistem pendidikan yang lebih berkualiti dan berkesan seterusnya akan mempercepatkan lagi matlamat ke arah negara maju.



PENULIS ialah Pengerusi Yayasan Guru Malaysia Berhad dan Ahli Panel Dialog Nasional Pendidikan Negara 2012 Sumber: Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana  20/07/2012

Sudahkah kajian baik dan buruk diambil kira?

JIKA keadaan ekonomi mengizinkan, saya percaya ramai ibu bapa akan menyediakan gajet terkini, terutama telefon bimbit yang menjadi keperluan dewasa ini. Tetapi persoalannya, adakah wajar anak-anak di sekolah dibenarkan membawa telefon bimbit ke sekolah?

Pada hari ini kes jenayah yang memangsakan pelajar sekolah sedang berleluasa. Ini tidak termasuk isu sosial lain yang melanda pelajar sekolah yang tidak perlu saya nyatakan di sini.

Sebagai ibu bapa kita semua bimbang kiranya pulang dari sekolah anak-anak berhadapan dengan bahaya dan sebagainya, bagaimanakah anak-anak ini dapat menghubungi keluarga ketika kecemasan? Pelbagai persoalan dan kebimbangan telah meletakkan idea membenarkan pelajar membawa telefon bimbit kelihatan sangat wajar.

Tetapi sudahkah perkiraan dan kajian baik buruknya diambil kira? Hanya pihak berwajib mampu menjawab persoalan ini. Sebagai rakyat biasa yang tidak mempunyai statistik baik buruknya membenarkan pelajar membawa telefon ke sekolah mungkin boleh untuk saya kongsikan bersama isu yang pada hemat saya mungkin timbul apabila pelajar bersama telefon di sekolah:

l Tumpuan pelajar terganggu

Bolehkah seorang guru mengawal pelajarnya agar tidak melayan SMS yang masuk keluar pada setiap detik dan ketika? Mungkin juga pelajar sibuk melihat kecanggihan gajet yang dimiliki oleh rakan dan membandingkan dengan gajet miliknya. Bukankah ini semua akan mengganggu pengajaran dan pembelajaran dalam kelas.

l Jurang stratifikasi sosial di sekolah

Sekolah diprogramkan dengan keseragaman dan kesamarataan. Baju tidak berbeza pada warna mahupun gayanya. Tetapi jika gajet yang dibawa iPhone, Samsung, BlackBerry sudah tentu tidak sama dengan gajet tidak berjenama. Apakah kita inginkan jurang stratifikasi sosial berlaku di dalam persekitaran sekolah. Sombong, memperlekehkan yang lain mungkin akan menjadi budaya sekolah. Adakah matlamat ke sekolah akan tercapai kiranya begini keadaan persekitarannya?

l Jenayah kecil-kecilan

Gajet yang dibawa ke sekolah seperti telefon bimbit mungkin terdedah kepada kecurian. Disebabkan godaan yang tinggi gajet yang dicuri boleh membawa kepada masalah lain seperti bergaduh sesama pelajar dan tidak kurang menyusahkan para guru yang terpaksa membuat siasatan bagi kecurian tersebut.

l Isu sosial

Anak remaja sedang dalam proses mengenali diri dan membentuk peribadi. Banyak kes pada hari ini telefon bimbit berkamera digunakan sebagai bahan untuk bereksperimen dalam melihat tubuh badan sendiri, mengendap, merekodkan aksi buli dan aksi terlarang lain atas dasar ingin tahu yang kuat dalam diri remaja. Bukan itu sahaja, gajet canggih yang dilengkapi akses kepada internet juga memungkinkan pelajar leka bermain permainan dalam talian dan lain-lain lagi. Sanggupkah para guru warga pendidik dan ibu bapa melayani serta berhadapan dengan semua isu ini yang mana kadar penyalahgunaannya begitu tinggi?

l Akademik tidak bebas lagi

Guru-guru mungkin mengalami kesukaran untuk berkongsi contoh dan bercakap mengenai perkara yang sensitif kerana khuatir gajet canggih yang dimiliki pelajar merekodkan perkara itu serta mentafsirnya secara salah. Guru juga mungkin tidak akan menggayakan atau berdemonstrasi dalam membentuk kefahaman pelajar bagi mengelakkan ia direkodkan, disunting dan dimuatkan di internet yang akan menjadikan guru terbabit bahan lawak jenaka. Lebih malang ia mungkin jatuh ke tangan pihak tidak bertanggungjawab dan secara tidak langsung mengekang kebebasan akademik di sekolah.

Mungkin bagi membendung kebimbangan ibu bapa akan ancaman bahaya yang ada pada hari ini, pihak berwajib perlu memperkenalkan Prosedur Operasi Standard (SOP) yang membolehkan pihak sekolah dan ibu bapa mengambil tindakan perlu apabila berlaku kecemasan. Butiran untuk dihubungi ketika kecemasan sama ada oleh pelajar, ibu bapa dan pihak sekolah perlulah jelas.

Pemantauan dari semua pihak memungkinkan persekitaran yang lebih baik kepada semua.

Pelajar perlu dididik agar lebih bertanggungjawab dengan tidak melencong ke tempat lain selepas meninggalkan sekolah. Sentiasa memaklumkan ibu bapa dan guru kiranya mempunyai aktiviti.

Tetapi keadaan dan suasana semasa mungkin mendesak agar pelajar dibenarkan membawa telefon bimbit ke sekolah. Biarlah keputusan yang dibuat kelak merupakan risiko yang paling minimum untuk ditanggung oleh ibu bapa, pelajar, sekolah dan juga masyarakat.


MOHD. KHAIRI MD. JAAFAR Kulim, Kedah Sumber: Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana 20/07/2012

Telefon: Minta kaji semula

TIDAK dinafikan telefon bimbit atau seumpamanya sangat penting dalam dunia masa kini. Telefon bimbit sering dikaitkan dengan kemudahan untuk berhubung antara satu sama lain. Kini, telefon bimbit bukan hanya dimiliki oleh orang dewasa, malah pelajar-pelajar sekolah, termasuk pelajar sekolah rendah mahupun prasekolah. Begitulah pentingnya penggunaan telefon bimbit pada masa kini.

Namun, hasrat Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia (KPM) untuk membenarkan pelajar membawa telefon bimbit ke sekolah mulai tahun 2013 adalah tidak sesuai, meskipun kita menyedari pentingnya penggunaan telefon bimbit. Ini kerana ia menimbulkan 1001 persoalan.

Jika alasan ibu bapa digunakan untuk memantau pergerakan anak-anak bagi memastikan anak-anak berada di sekolah ia bukanlah satu alasan yang baik.

Hal ini kerana, saya yakin dan percaya sekolah sentiasa memaparkan nombor telefon yang boleh dihubungi oleh ibu bapa. Malah terdapat juga sekolah yang memberikan nombor telefon guru kelas kepada ibu bapa bagi memberi ruang dan peluang untuk ibu bapa bertanyakan tentang perkembangan anak-anak mereka di sekolah.

Malah, pelajar turut diberi kebenaran menggunakan telefon pejabat jika diperlukan.

Begitu juga jika alasan keselamatan diberikan sebagai cara untuk membenarkan telefon bimbit dibawa ke sekolah ia juga turut tidak relevan.

Sebabnya, selama ini, kerajaan melalui Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) dan beberapa organisasi kerajaan, termasuklah pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) dengan kerjasama pihak media sentiasa mengingatkan para pelajar tentang tindakan yang patut dilakukan sekiranya berlaku kejadian yang tidak diingini seperti didekati oleh individu tidak dikenali dan sebagainya.

Apa yang saya ingin saya utarakan di sini adalah kebenaran membawa telefon bimbit tersebut walaupun mempunyai draf undang-undang penggunaannya sewaktu di sekolah, namun saya yakin dan percaya ia sukar dikawal.

Saya sangat bimbang kebenaran itu akan memberi kesan negatif kepada pihak sekolah sama ada daripada segi penguatkuasaan disiplin, malah lebih memburukkan ia mengganggu proses Pengajaran & Pembelajaran (P&P) dalam bilik darjah.

Ia juga akan menggagalkan pihak sekolah mengesan masalah disiplin dalam kalangan pelajar kerana pelajar-pelajar lain akan menghubungi rakan-rakan yang lain bagi mengelak daripada dikenakan tindakan oleh pihak sekolah.

Lebih membimbangkan gambar-gambar guru akan dirakam malah kawasan larangan sekolah seperti bilik kebal, pejabat dan sebagainya yang menjadi kawasan larangan pelajar akan tersebar di Internet.

Saya sekali lagi menyeru pihak KPM menarik balik kebenaran penggunaan telefon bimbit di sekolah bagi mengelakkan perilaku negatif dalam kalangan pelajar menjadi lebih buruk.



RAKYAT PRIHATIN   Taiping  Sumber: Utusan Malaysia Online Rencana 20/07/2012

Time to put on HOT cap to motivate students

EXEMPLARY EFFORTS: There is increased efforts to improve the quality of education in public schools

AT a recent assembly of 1,500 master teachers, the prime minister reiterated the importance of teachers educating students "to develop higher thinking skills" to cater for future needs.

"We cannot identify (with accuracy) the type of disciplines that will emerge in the next 15 years, in which our future generation may be forced to work. We can, however, prepare them to think thoroughly, creatively and in an innovative manner so that they can adapt to any situation," he said.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak also mentioned that master teachers must know how to motivate students to come up with new ideas as it was not enough for students just to do well academically. This is where higher order thinking (HOT) is imperative.

By sheer coincidence, a day after the prime minister's reminder, some of his hopes and wishes could be seen being translated into reality in a three-day Conference on Education Transformation through Leadership Excellence held in Kuala Lumpur.

Dzulkifli Abdul Razak

Sponsored by Yayasan Khazanah, Yayasan Amir and Pintar Foundation, the conference showcased some of the work focusing on the primary and secondary schools.

There is indeed a range of exemplary efforts to increase access and quality of education in public schools through a public-private partnership with the close involvement of the Education Ministry.

Based on the progress report on the Trust Schools Programme (TSP) for the period 2011/2012, impressive improvements in some competency areas were apparent.

For example, in the usage of strategic questioning that promotes student thinking, a 33 per cent increase was reported.

For the usage of defined collaborative and cooperative learning structures, the increase is even more significant at 40 per cent; whereas for fair and consistent application of rewards and sanctions, 32 per cent and usage of effective feedback strategies, 30 per cent.

Overall improvement in teachers, based on 20 competency areas through lesson observation, is reported to be 25 per cent, from February 2012 to June of the same year.

In other words, what was expected of teachers by the prime minister is not a mission impossible, at least as far as the conference finding goes. More importantly, this can serve as a template to be scaled up and replicated for many more schools to be involved.

Today, the first experimental cohort under the TSP involves only 10 schools in two cluster areas in Sarawak and Johor. It comprises primary and secondary schools across the performance spectrum of Band 1 to 6.

The schools were selected based on several criteria including geographical location, dimensions of schools and school types, and other factors like rural and urban areas as well as balanced social equity.

The Education Ministry is involved throughout the process, sharing the common goal to eventually drive improvements in national schools across the nation.

The programme is designed to help bridge education gaps and inequalities where they may exist. This in turn will touch the lives of thousands of children, by bringing meaningful enhancements to their learning environment in schools.

For the private not-for-profit partners like Yayasan Amir, it is a commitment beyond traditional Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in education, as "it represents a long-term investment by the private sector to elevate the quality of education provided by our schools".

It is after all about sustainable change applied throughout the learning ecosystem with the recognition that school leadership and roles of teachers, students, parents as well as members of the community are paramount. These are supported by four strategic goals ensuring that the intended education transformation is translated into reality.

While it is still too early to predict how much transformation it will bring at the end of the day, the need for major changes to occur as outlined by the deputy prime minister at the closing of the National Education Dialogue recently is not illusion.

"There will be multiple shifts under the strategic plan of the (15-year education) blueprint" -- a culmination of a comprehensive evaluation report on the review of the education system. The last such exercise was in 1960 with the Rahman Talib Report, following the Razak Report of 1956.

Given the continuous changes sweeping throughout the education sector worldwide, a 50-year gap is indeed a challenge that could only be met by putting on the HOT cap every step of the way in the education transformational process.


By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak | vc@aiu.edu.my
Source: New Straits Times  Time to put on HOT cap to motivate students - Columnist - 21 July 2012 



Kadir Jasin doesn't just fade away, he writes on

FIRST AND LAST A JOURNALIST: He has always been the man with a mission, and a mind of his own.

WHEN I was in limboland after 1998, Datuk A. Kadir Jasin was among the few who helped me navigate through some tough times. Ironically, among my contemporaries, he was the one I found most difficult to "click" initially. Perhaps our official trip to Taiwan together in 1994 changed all that. I discovered Kadir, the man, the journalist and a true friend.

I was honoured to write the introduction to his latest book, Kunta Kinte Original: Catatan Kopitiam A. Kadir Jasin, the compilation of his articles in Berita Harian from August 2009. Kunta Kinte is the nom de plume he used for his pojok, which literally means space. Pojok writing has been a mainstay of Malay journalism since it was popularised by the first editor of Utusan Melayu, A. Rahim Kajai back in 1939. Perhaps "parody" is closest to the Malay concept of pojok. In the hands of Rahim and later A. Samad Ismail and Ishak Haji Muhammad, pojok became a powerful tool to criticise, condemn and question anything and anybody that moves, tastefully of course and with finesse.

.

Datuk A. Kadir Jasin was bestowed the MPI-Petronas Eminent Journalist Award on Monday, the ninth recipient of the
most coveted award in Malaysian journalism. Pic by Rosela Ismail

Kadir got away with murder in his Kunta Kinte column, a peculiar name to pick for someone writing about his bangsa and negara. The name was made famous by Alex Haley in Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which later became one of the most successful TV series in US history. Kadir's Kunta Kinte is bold and uncompromising, questioning how his race despite being labelled lords of the land remained poor and backward and his country despite being portrayed as the land of plenty offers only the few and the privileged plentiful opportunities.

Kadir has always been the man with a mission, that translates into being difficult and beyond control. He has a mind of his own. He pursues his own agenda much to the distaste of the political masters. But more importantly, he is first and last a journalist. So despite his foray into the corporate world, he behaved and operated as a journalist. He was one of the empat budak Melayu (four Malay boys) who took over NSTP back in 1993. He was however a marginal player in a bigger scheme of things. He was an owner in name only, the real show was run by one of his colleagues, whose powerful connection at the highest level guaranteed fast passage and unprecedented business deals.

Johan Jaaffar

The "marriage" as expected didn't last. The business empire disintegrated after the economic crisis and the political turmoil of 1998. Kadir stayed a while longer as group editor-in-chief of the NST, but later was unceremoniously told to leave after another regime change at the NSTP. Kadir kept writing, re-energising his hugely popular "Other Thots" column in the NST for Malaysian Business. Berita Harian resurrected his Kunta Kinte in 2009.

Kadir had always wanted to be a journalist. He joined Bernama 43 years ago. Most of the time he was with the NSTP, under the watchful eyes of among others, Samad and Lee Siew Yee. Things were different back then so too the world of newspapering. The tools for journalists were Royal, Underwood or Olivetti typewriters, lots of courage and few survival kits. Kadir had worked with the best and finest in the world of journalism. If he can survive the feared Samad as his sifu, he can survive anywhere, which he did.

He had a special reason to leave his village in 1969. He wanted to prove something to a girl he was eyeing for some time, one Siti Sarah, daughter of an assistant village head, who was a stunning beauty. Mind you, they never once spoke to each other, but regardless Kadir rode a bicycle just to seek a glimpse of her before he left. Wherever she is today, Siti Sarah inspired Kadir to try his luck in Kuala Lumpur.

What a career it was. And the climax was when he received the MPI-Petronas Eminent Journalist Award (Anugerah Wartawan Negara) on Monday, the ninth recipient of the most coveted award in journalism. He is now in the hall of fame together with his mentors, Samad and Siew Yee. He is the last of the Mohicans, for his contemporaries have either moved on with their lives or been elevated to higher positions.

Kadir was one of the first journalists to embrace the social media. He was blogging even before it became mainstream. In fact so powerful was "The Scribe" in the cybersphere that his no-holds-barred pieces rattled the previous prime minister and his administration. Kadir was one of the proponents of political blogosphere.

Some argue, good soldiers don't die, they just fade away while good journalists are simply forgotten, but Kadir simply refuses to fade away or be forgotten. He writes on.


By Johan Jaaffar zulu.jj@hotmail.com Twitter: @Johan_Jaaffar 
Source: New Straits Times Kadir Jasin doesn't just fade away, he writes on - Columnist - 21 July 2012

Zero to 12: Challenging minds by encouraging flexible thinking

“When all think alike, then no one is thinking.“ — Walter Lippmann, writer

Having trained as a teacher in England and also having lived and worked in many different countries and cultures, I can appreciate that there are many different attitudes towards school and education.

What I have noticed throughout my nine years in Southeast Asia is that there is an admirable recognition that hard work will bring success. This is very true; we would be extremely lucky to succeed without working hard. Indeed, Carol Dweck from Stanford University, has written several papers on the need for learners to have a ‘growth mindset’; that is a belief that learning is something that we can all do when we work at it, as opposed to a ‘fixed mindset’, which suggests that there are those who intrinsically have ‘it’ and those that do not and there’s not a lot we can do about it.

In an educational setting, most teachers prefer to talk about learning rather than work. Learning can be greatly enhanced through hard work but hard work does not necessarily mean that children are learning. Good, deep learning that leads to understanding comes about through the right kind of hard work.

Think about your child’s last homework then ask yourself whether your child worked hard to complete a time-consuming task with minimal thinking or whether they had to work hard and think carefully, in order to learn something. I would suggest that unless your child was learning something then the time was not used well. Many teachers use the phrase home learning rather than homework to illustrate this point.

I think we all would agree that knowledge is important and learning facts should be part of any curriculum. However, I would argue that it is not the most important thing. Knowledge is ever more easily accessible to those with access to the Internet and most of us have almost instant access. It is essential for schools to recognise the need for learners to learn how to evaluate and analyse the information that they find and to have programmes in place that encourage learners to do this rather than merely listening, absorbing and then repeating.

As far back as the late 1950s educationalists were questioning the equality of different types of thinking skills. Benjamin Bloom, an American academic, developed an ordered list (a taxonomy) of thinking skills. He argued that some types of thinking were of a higher order than others. At the bottom of the taxonomy comes remembering things. A low order, but still important, thinking skill.

The higher order thinking skills are things like evaluating or justifying a point of view or decision and creating a new product or new viewpoint.

British author Ken Robinson has spoken regularly about the need to embrace creativity in our schools. Some schools, he argues ‘kill creativity’ with too much of a focus on low order remembering of facts, which some call knowledge, and not enough focus on the cultivation of higher order skills and understanding.

Many modern curricula do highlight the importance of thinking skills and recognise their increasing importance in our society. Recently I asked a selection of learners, teachers and parents at my school to list the skills that they thought were important to take with them from school. Amongst the most important was for children to be ‘flexible thinkers’. All parties recognise that the workplace is changing and in these times of great change our children are going to need the skills to cope with the change.

The International Primary Curriculum (IPC) recognises the need to be a flexible thinker and embedded within the curriculum are personal goals such as ‘be able to draw conclusions and develop their own reasoned point of view.’ The International Baccalaureate too makes a similar point about ‘applying thinking skills critically and creatively’ within its learner profile.

There are many ways that schools can promote flexibility in thinking for their learners. There are lots of tools that promote ‘thinking skills’ available to schools. Physician and author Edward De Bono’s thinking hats are used in a lot of schools.

At my school we explicitly teach this technique to our 3 to 7 year olds but the technique is also used with much older learners, teachers and in industry. Some multi-nationals, such as IBM, Shell and JP Morgan use the technique.

It basically involves a series of different coloured hats depicting different kinds of thinking. For our learners it shows them that there is more than one way of trying to solve a problem and validates both cautionary and optimistic input to a problem solving situation.

As learners get older they are then introduced to other techniques such as Australian teacher Tony Ryan’s thinker’s keys and Bloom‘s Taxonomy. The end result is that learners leave school as flexible thinkers who can solve problems efficiently and creatively.



David Griffiths is the Head of Primary ate Nexus International School, Putrajaya. He is also an avid supporter of Manchester City football club and enjoys playing the game himself. Aside from football, he enjoys reading on educational issues and loves spending time with his two daughters.


By David Griffiths
Source: New Straits Times Zero to 12: Challenging minds by encouraging flexible thinking - Extras - 2 April 2012