Creating Critical Thinkers
Critical thinking involves active thinking; in other words not just accepting and believing everything that is seen, heard or told. In thinking critically one asks questions, evaluate, analyze, categorize, and find relationships between concepts and more. It is indeed true, that every child is born with different abilities and skills. Through various teaching models and methods, teachers can further develop and improve the skills of students. A student who is good at memorizing things and knows many facts does not guarantee that they have critical thinking skills. A critical thinker is able to deduce consequences, make use of information to solve problems, and seek previous and relevant sources of knowledge to inform themselves.
The size of the classes in Barbados and the wider Caribbean are increasing and with bigger classrooms some students will suffer because of the teacher’s inability and lack of time to cover the curriculum content and still tend sufficiently to those who are slow learners. There is no time in most cases to tend to everyone’s needs and teachers resort to direct teaching where they present the students with information or knowledge and they are expected to memorize it. In the Caribbean, especially Barbados, the system is based on examination. Students are not tested on their critical skills most of the time, but rather on how well they can remember the information that they were taught and that is how the meritocracy system works. The size of the classes should be reduced so that the teacher will be able to confidently deal with everyone’s learning needs and capabilities. If this cannot be done right away then the there should at least be two teachers with the classroom that work together, assisting each other. For example the teacher with more expertise in a specific subject area could deal with that topic and the other teacher can give extra help to those that take longer than the others to understand the concepts being taught. Teachers have so much to do in preparing classes, assessments and more which can be very time consuming. To mitigate this, they can find a way to incorporate the students to be more active and creative in their learning and understanding. A great way to do that and take just a little weight off of the teacher is by allowing the students to pick the topic that they want to learn more about and design what they want their charts, scenarios or role play to be like. This also encourages interest and motivation. Students are also motivated when they are doing a subject they are interested in, so rather than having all the students do the same courses in secondary school for example there should be more specialized schools. A child who wants to be an actor or a performer for example will not be interested in doing science and mathematics. The way the students are tested in the Caribbean should call for more assessment of critical thinking because it will lead to problems when they are entering the workforce. They will not be able to successfully get the job done because the task at hand is not written in a book and they are not able to use previous knowledge or experience to solve the problem.
Critical thinking can only be improved if teachers are able to successfully implement various and suitable models of teaching. That means that students should be assessed accordingly, and their interest and motivation to learn and be actively involved should be nourished. A student would be disinterested if the teacher is not an expert in their area and unable to answer their questions, if they are bored or feel left behind. Therefore, more collaborative measures can result in more inviting and intelligible learning experience that transcends barriers.