At the beginning of the year, social media and newspapers are swamped with photos of kids starting school, looking both cute and odd in their oversized school uniforms. Matric results are revealed and the high achievers reach front page while everyone else searches frantically for their names in the papers. But did you know that a shocking 25% of government school grade 1’s in South Africa, don’t even make it to matric? What is more shocking is that about 80% of matriculates who actually graduate fail their first year at varsity. This is according to a Finweek article: Building a New Generation to Outsmart Google.
This article also mentions that a majority of children battle with mathematics and reading skills due to a lack of problem-solving and critical thinking skills. At some stage in your life or in a situation, Google won’t have the answer. People need to be able to think on their feet and have a certain life philosophical skill to debate certain issues. In actual fact, if you have competent critical thinking skills, you can do efficient problem-solving to make the right informed decision that will be highly valuable in the workplace and also in life.
Critical thinking is like philosophizing. It is a series of a train of thoughts that take your mind through logical steps to arrive at an appropriate conclusion.
If you remember correctly, in our article “10 Uniquely Human Skills that can secure you professionally”, complex problem-solving and critical thinking were the top two skills you couldn’t compromise on. Turns out these skills are of utmost importance to be able to bridge that gap between knowing and doing. It is an essential skill school leavers need when they continue with the next step in life, whether it is starting a career or furthering their studies. They don’t necessarily have these skills.
What makes the urgency to develop critical thinking skills, even more, pressing, is the fact that “fake news” is a huge part of our everyday information environment. Without these skills, young adults make bad decisions. Be honest…were you ever taught to think critically about a situation while growing up? Were you taught problem-solving skills at school or was decision-making a subject you could take?
The thing is that we are not used to thinking critically and also not in our everyday life. Dare we say that for many people it is just easier to accept things as they are? They are not questioning it positively. The way many solve problems or take a decision is through irrational thinking. Probably by taking a decision with whatever springs to mind first or maybe we are observing a situation or assessing a problem, maybe thinking about it and possibly experimenting with trial and error before we arrive at the best solution.
Critical thinking is about so much more and we cannot emphasize enough how important this skill is to bridge the gap between school pupils and varsity students, between school leavers and becoming part of the workforce, but also in and between each new job, promotion and managerial tasks. Critical thinking is about acquiring the skills needed to identify the correct issue, brainstorming solutions with end goals in minds, philosophizing through the results, experimentation and evaluating outcomes at the end.
If you are experiencing that your first-year students entering your classes or newly appointed employees/team are battling to solve problems or to philosophize about issues, you need a training partner with the expertise to train them from the ground up to the next level. If you are yourself a leader or manager, and you feel some shortfalls, you need to upskill your critical thinking skills as soon as possible. We believe that companies need to align their HR departments’ workforce and training plans with the entire organizational strategy in order to be a successful business empire.
Regardless of what level you are at, critical thinking skills are generally alarmingly low in South Africa. We all need to take hands and bridge this gap together. Invest in a reliable and knowledgeable training partner, The Mindspa Insitute can help you achieve this.