Critical thinking and our education system

By: Kainat Saif

Focus on solutions is essential and always thinking about problems is fatal as it helps to create more issues. Nevertheless, we are going to discuss problems at first then solutions as Charles Kettering aptly said:

“a problem well-stated is half-solved.”

The education system in Pakistan is unsophisticated rather undeveloped. The main driving force of this system is “Teacher”. The teachers are not well equipped with modern-day methodologies of teaching. The classroom should give the vibe of a learning environment and not of a cage. The teacher should not be a jailor to dictate a free individual AKA student according to their mood. Well more often than not grades of students also depend upon the temperament of a teacher or if you’re bête noire then may God save you!

You’re laughing or smiling in a class? Well, be ready because the one behind the rostrum is all set to punish you for all the bad happening in his/her life. Are you an intellectually curious person? But what if your question pisses off your master? Better stay quiet because the teacher is so pleased to have received questions like “Can you please repeat what you’ve said earlier”, What, why, and how from pseudo-intellectuals. Asking genuine out-of-the-box questions will often make you get out of the class and you will be termed as an idiot. It is an unfunny joke that teachers are concerned about your presence in class and not the presence of your mind. Also, you have to be there but if the teacher is not there it should not be your problem because after all the Teacher has its not-so-fair perks and privileges. Sadly, our teachers don’t even know the difference between open book exams and cheating.

Talking generally, all these problems exist, however, then there are exceptions. One of them is Ms. Mahwish Rani (a competent lawyer and an equally brilliant professor) She is a textbook example of near a perfect teacher. She teaches you for the sake of you to learn. Kudos to her for being a hard-working academic. We need more people like her in public institutions to intellectually stimulate young minds.

Not using a cell phone in a university class defies all the logic and I end up pulling my hair in frustration. Researching for anything you want to with one click sounds like an alien concept in the public universities of Pakistan. This is true that mobile is the biggest distraction but why can’t we think of it as a useful tool. While studying public policy I have learned this concept of the greater good. When an ambulance is empty with its siren on we think we should not give it the way because it’s empty instead of thinking the ambulance is on its way to take up the patient. Such a thinking pattern is the evil causing the troubles.

Memorization is the only way out for you. The torture is immense. Most of the students by the end of the degree become mentally unstable. Critical thinking is a fancy term that is in no way encouraged in Public institutions of Pakistan. According to the Chatham house rule, I’d not say the name but a person while giving a lecture on “critical thinking” told that in the western world kids are being taught critical thinking from grade-1 so we are more or less 12-14 years behind them, as we start teaching the same subject after grade 12 that too in letters and not spirits.

The above-mentioned caveats are just the tip of an iceberg, having said this, let’s talk about solutions now. Training of teachers is mandatory. There are proper academies to train professionals from civil services to armed forces but why not for teachers? For the most important wheel who runs to generate all these Public servants and Army officers. Therefore, I urge such academies for teachers too. Then there comes the accountability for all, accountability not only for students but for teachers and administration at public institutions as well. Intellectual independence shall be provoked. Innovation and creativity can do more good to this flawed system. Lack of critical thinking is not worth defending but is worth correcting.

Putting bandages on the system will not heal the parts which need surgery but it will stop the wound from further damage.

The writer is a law student and can be reached at [email protected]