Nurturing critical thinking

I read from The Star Online tonight about Deputy Higher Education Minister that said many young Malaysian cannot think critically.

These are the questions back to the Ministries both Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education (yeah, we have two ministry that foresee education in Malaysia. How lucky) :

1. How to build a thinking student when you always been shut up by the teachers? I am like this because in my whole life, people never tried to shut me. My uncles and my parents always answer my questions. Although sometimes they can't answer it, they will buy me lots of books. I've got an Atlas when I was 8 years old. Maybe for other kids (a very advance kids) owning an atlas when you are 8 years old is normal but considering that my parents are government staff and their salary is not that high, I considered myself lucky. My parents never care I spend my allowance on books. I never like school that much. Or could I said that I never like art and P.E much. I know I'm creative but not in art. And I hate P.E because I think its not relevant. After P.E you always sweat a lot. Trying to concentrate when you are sweating (because of P.E) is tough for me.

2. Parents are too protective nowadays. My parents also protective with my 3 youngest siblings. Giving room to your child to learn what they like. Never pressure them to take something they never like. I like martial arts and computers since I'm young. So, I asked my parents to allow me to join taekwando and computer class. They allow me and my sisters to participate (my sister participate in computer class). When I filled up my UPU forms (for those that are not Malaysian, UPU forms is for you to choose which universities that you like to enter after SPM). My parents never force me to choose something I don't like. But my uncles were. My uncles would like me to choose medical field. I felt in love with computer and electrical engineering. I make my own decision. My parents just said about advantages and disadvantages of each universities to me.

3. Exposure for each course or field. Do the ministry do a road-show to explain about the course (what will they learn and etc) to the students? I think it is necessary. When I was at the boarding school, several people come to explain about some courses. We even had army come and explain potential careers with armed forces. We can spend millions of ringgit into building a new palace; billion of ringgit into building new highway (although the existing highway is more than enough I think); million into buying executive jet but why not spend it into organizing a road-show each year to each states (if not schools) to explain about existing fields and the potential careers with it. Why the roadshow? Because not many students know about what are the field offered by the universities and the potential careers. I only know about Food Technology courses when I was in USM. Now with new field like Biotech, Nanotech and etc, I think the ministry need to do the roadshow. The students (and parents) need to know that there are other fields beside engineering, medical and pharmacy.

4. To build a critical thinking, it must be nurture from a very young age. You can't expect to nurture the critical thinking in overnight. Could you see that our government also too protective? Our education system didn't allow students to build critical and creative thinking. You must follow the teacher. Even when the teacher is not right, never question it. Don't forget the schema when answering exam questions. Don't do any other thing in computer class except following the teachers example. Our education system is too protective and only allow a single way to do it. When the students come out into the real world, they will be shocked because you can do a thing in many ways.
5. Yesterday, one practical student asked me why the web server is not working. The problem is because of some mistake in configuration file. If the student search the Internet, the student can found the solution immediately. Yeah, that the other problem. Because the student always got solutions from teachers and lecturers they lost their ability to survive by themselves when nobody is not around to teach them. Have the ability to survive can also nurture your thinking. One of the task of my final year project was to build a PC cluster. Only a few people at USM at that time that know how to build a PC cluster. Its hard to get the knowledge from them. So, the other solution was to go into 'unknown' world of Internet. Searching is not fun at that time but I manage to get it done. (oh, in case someone wonders how can I find so many e-books and stuffs, it is because I use search engine a lot). Independence when you study things are good. Really good.

I must admit that being independence and has my own opinion is good for me. But I'm not that good in academics. My PMR only 7A 1B 1E, SPM only manages to get 9 (11 if including English), I've failed 1119 and I've graduated from my bachelor degree with only 2.61. I'm not what you called excellenct in academics. But I'm proud to say that I can learn by myself each time I've got an assignment. And when I'm stuck, I always had Internet to search for the problems. Only when I really desperate, I asked someone else. I don't like to ask too many things to other people because I felt I owe them something. I don't like owing something to other people.

Do I want people to follow my footsteps? Yeah for good things. But I don't want people to follow the bad things that I've done. Being too independent made me rebellious and outspoken. I've hurt people feelings too many times. And I've argued with too many friends.

Oh, another think Minister, don't forget to build libraries around Malaysia. And stock the school libraries with good and enough books. And also teach the kids not too damage those books by telling them to love it. If it works for my brothers (yeah, one of them cut my book but only that one time) why it will not work for others?

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