Hello to all, and happy end of the year! I thought I’d share some thoughts today as I sit in a quaint little coffee shop and ponder. My adventure this year, teaching the new ATAR system and also mothering primary learners, has really emphasised the distinct need for both educators and parents to foster and nurture creative and flexible thinkers who will cope with the demands of the new millennium.
Gone are the days now, where rote learning and regurgitation of information are deemed acceptable and “long-term” learning. Children are now required to learn in a way (like at a tertiary level), they are able to retain and apply their learning in unexpected situations – rather like life really! So, as a teacher of 20 years, and a mother of nearly 10 –YIKES!- I thought I’d add some ideas for how you can help develop these critical thinking skills in your children so they’re ready for the onslaught of the next decade!
First of all, I come into contact on a daily basis with students who are unable to “think and devise”. They get stuck when it comes to imagining and devising. I ask teenagers what games they used to play as children and some tell me “nothing” I am left gobsmacked usually and grateful for my two daughters who play all sorts of games which involve imagination.
So, advice point number one is encourage kids to play, create, and imagine. These skills are crucial in the new world.
Another skill that I foster, is that of improvisation which is often taught in the Arts. How many times a day, in adult life, do we need to improvise? Most people would say multiple. Give children scenarios and ask them to improvise them as role plays. Their brains will be firing away and they’ll make hundreds of decisions a minute keeping them sharp and on the ball. These are the type of people employers need, not the passive, obedient and sedentary ones who cannot think on their feet.
Practise. Many parents ask me how I got “so good at my subjects” and at the things I teach. Well, the answer is pretty simple – I practised. Even my own writing experienced has improved with practice and I tell students that nobody (unless they are a prodigy) can just do something at an expert level.
So, whatever the skill, may it be riding a bike or playing a musical instrument, I encourage my own (and those I teach) children to practice over and over. It is the persistence that effective practice teaches students that really sorts out the weak from the strong. Of course excellence takes time, of course precision takes blood, sweat and tears. Children need to learn that instant gratification won’t ensue just because they did a one-off training session.
So they are my top three tips – CREATE, IMPROVISE, PRACTISE. These are the skills that have helped me achieve success in my chosen career. They are also the tips I am giving to my own children, both of whom are profiting and succeeding in their own learning worlds.
Let’s help provide a future for the next generation who, with some old school techniques, can enjoy the same achievements and success we did. Some passive, sedentary and uncreative people achieve success but more often than not… they don’t! Create, improvise and practise today so that tomorrow, you can profit.
Story Belinda Perry