“What a gifted child is, in many ways, is a gifted learner. And what a gifted adult is, is a gifted doer. And those are quite separate domains of achievement.”- Malcolm Gladwell
Every parent would admit honestly that it’s difficult to answer all of the questions posed by your child(ren). An example of this question is “How does the TV work?” When they ask, there are a few options that a parent has. On one hand, you can shut down the child with a response like, “I don’t know, ask your teacher.” Or you could say, “Let’s ask google and figure it out.” Another option is to explain to them as much you know.
The honest truth is that it’s not easy for parents, teachers or their guardians to respond completely to all of these questions. As an educator, I do know that these questions are opportunities that are termed teachable moments and there are principles that scientists utilize in making the most of these situations.
As I state whenever I speak at conferences, workshops or outreaches based on the research I did when writing my book “Future readiness in education.” (2017) It is important to start thinking in terms of the future for the sakes of the children, what happens now in our interactions with them matters ultimately. There will be an untenable environment for us all if we continue with business as usual.
I have become extremely invested in the Science of learning to ensure that we boost the skills of children and educators that are necessary for achievement in the 21st century.
Over the past two years since I wrote that book, I have so many phone calls from parents who are worried about their children’s futures. They spend lots of money for their children to have high scores at various achievement tests for college admissions. Even when their children score high points, it’s no guarantee that their children will succeed at getting great jobs or becoming successful person.
Nothing in the present day setup of schools is different from the past- students still sit in columns in classes, listening to the sage in front and recite back facts like computers. The irony is we have computers that do a better job at regurgitating this information.
Getting students to be holistic success in life means ensuring that the six C’s which have been identified as confidence, collaboration, communication, content, creative thinking, and critical thinking.
A quick run down on what these skills entail.
Confidence: This is necessary for children to take safe risks.
Collaboration is centered around children learning to get along with other children which means they have to constraint their impulses. Learning to form groups, work with various people of different cultures. All that occurs in the classroom or at home dwells upon that groundwork.
Communication is next, since it takes getting along with others to communicate. Communication consists of speaking, writing, reading and listening.
Content is created from communication. Without knowing how to decipher language, read- one can’t learn anything.
Creative thinking requires knowledge; lots of it. In order to create something new, it needs to be known inside out.
Critical thinking is focused around content, without having content there is nothing to navigate around and these days there are masses of information to go through.
There needs to be a realization that there are no entrepreneurs or scientific visionaries who haven’t dealt with failure. This is important in raising children who will be successful.
Beyond the 6 C’s- we then review and delve deeper into the four levels of development.
Starting with critical thinking. Content has to be there already. The thing is, there is so much information out there and it is increasing every 2 years now. Due to this, we have to be selective and synthesize the information that is necessary.
There are 4 levels of processing information — at Level 1, we believe what are told. If someone tells us that there are snakes in the grass in our public parks, we take their word for it.
With Level 2, a shift begins to occur- you realize that there are multiple points of view. All along we have been told that Mungo Park discovering the River Niger even though we had indigenous tribes already living there. This is how the foundation for critical thinking begins.
At the third level, we consider various opinions. We have used the phrase, “They say” What we should do is read materials with facts and evidence.
At Level 4, we discuss evidence, deep comprehension, and the benefits of questioning everything.
It is hopeful that the holes in the understanding are exposed in this level. Critical thinking steers the way to breakthroughs in any field.
I hope we are connecting the dots through these to understand that when a child asks us a perplexing question, we will not shut them up or settle for “I don’t know”, we would encourage inquiry and research. Also encourage them to see things from the perspective of others; things need to be viewed from the context of the person who is dealing with it or the circumstances around the situation. This builds the skill of critical thinking.
I like for us to go beyond the walls of school, for parents to supplement what their children are doing at school by talking to them- do you collaborate with them as parents? On what level? Do they do things on their own (level 1) or with others (Level 2)
Give them the freedom to make their own choices, talk to them- let it be effective communication- they talk and you listen also.
Then also ask yourselves: What do I want for my child? Where is my child now, and how can I build an environment in my house that will enable the child to grow up with these different skills?
To build confidence, give them the space to solve problems in multiple ways.
It doesn’t take anything away from the children, they learn and realize that they are creative and their confidence is boosted.
Adetola Salau; Global Educator / International Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur/ Innovative Thinker/Future Readiness Advocate/ STEM Certified Trainer
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness.