Archive for the ‘Higher Order Thinking skills (HOTS)’ Category

Work Matters! Are you problem-centric or solution oriented?

Friday, August 21st, 2020
The writer sharing ideas on being solution oriented.The writer sharing ideas on being solution oriented.

I have worked out that people have two choices to iterate themselves by. You habitually are either problem-centric or solution oriented.

Of course, you might begin any situation by just seeing the problems associated with it. But at the end, your default mindset takes over.

If you are problem centric, you often get stuck. You won’t be able to imagine, let alone see a way out from a predicament. Often, it debilitates and angers you.

On the other hand, when your mind is always tuned to finding solutions, you may take a beat to worry about the problem, but you will approach every situation with confidence in your ability to solve it.

How is it that some people do so well at this, while others spend a lifetime struggling?

It really does come down to your mental habits.

First of all, you probably realise by now that the only constant in life is change. So, decide how you choose to view change and any potential discomfort. For some, a change from your routine is just monumentally inconvenient and scary. For others, you can see change coming with new opportunities.

Even for those of you who can embrace change, there will always be new problems and difficult situations.

But, when you become skilled at quickly surmounting problems as they emerge, you become more effective at taking advantage of any opportunity that lies within a tricky situation. This always gives you the edge to determine the outcomes of any situation.

If you don’t want to struggle with problems, you need to realise that you can actually take control of your own destiny by focusing your energy on solutions, rather than be debilitated by inertia.

It’s all in the way you think; your mindset. What’s your predominant state of mind? What you think about, focus on, and expect from your daily experiences, enhances or decreases your capacity to sort stuff out.

When you focus your energy on developing solutions, you cultivate the mindset that creates success.

Easy right? Yes and no! It is easy to understand, but it takes conscious and deliberate action to make it who you are. Here’s what I do.

Start by being purpose driven.

When things will get tough, as they always do, it’s critical to be very clear about what you want, and why you want it. Staying in a solution-focused mindset demands that you figure this out, and do not let obstacles deter you in any way.

If I hit a roadblock, I refocus on the positive feelings I’ve felt when striving for success; when I have successfully broken-down barriers, and reached my goals in the past. And I know I want to recreate this feeling, and I make this emotion visceral. This keeps me in motion, and doesn’t mentally derail me.

In my leadership coaching and consulting work, I am most in awe of people who can decide what they want to be. They cultivate a particular and peculiar mindset to get there.

It’s hardly about luck and serendipity. They seem to be always prepared for opportunity.

Confidence, determination, discipline, and flexibility seem to be the hallmark of those you might see as just being “lucky”.

Confidence helps you feel ready for everything life throws at you. When you are confident, you move forward with people and opportunities, not back away from them. You have an expansive, rather than a contracting mind, which allows for this.

People who trust their own efficacy neither blindly say yes to something nor object to it because they don’t have the know-how. They reflect, and juxtapose every situation against their purpose and pivot accordingly. Now this is confidence.

Next is determination. Determination is the act of settling on your purpose, then ploughing through even as you face complications. This emotion increases your chances of being successful, and it keeps you motivated to continue striving towards the one thing you want to achieve.

It’s not that people who are determined don’t have self-doubt. They do! But their mindset quickly helps them to keep going for what they aim for. They simply don’t settle down until they work this out.

You will notice that successful people have stability and structure in their life. This is called discipline.

Personal discipline is essential for the character of a person. It teaches you to be responsible and respectful. You know that the observance of well-defined rules is the basis of any society. It promotes good human behaviour to make your community better and make it a more enjoyable place for everyone to live in.

Similarly, when you nurture this mindset, you become acutely aware of how you behave and more importantly how you need to behave to collaborate with others, and find solutions.

Finally, don’t be rigid.

When you have a flexible attitude, you’ll have no problem accepting changes. To be flexible means to be willing to adapt to change. Be flexible with your attitude, but don’t compromise on your purpose and principles.

So, have you worked out if you are problem-centric or solution oriented?

Shankar R. Santhiram is managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”

By Shankar R. Santhiram.

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Overthinking is bad, here’s how to take back control of your life

Sunday, March 15th, 2020
Whether we are dwelling on the mistakes that we have made done, regretting excessively on something, or fretting about how tomorrow is going to be, overthinking of everything can be debilitating. PIXABAY/FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES ONLY

LETTERS: OVERTHINKING is a pesky habit that can be perilous to our well-being and mental health.

Whether we are dwelling on the mistakes that we have made done, regretting excessively on something, or fretting about how tomorrow is going to be, overthinking of everything can be debilitating.

According to therapists, patients commonly tell them during treatment that “I cannot relax”, “My brain cannot shut off” or “I cannot stop thinking about how my life could have been better if I had done things differently”.

A study reported in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that women overthink more than men do. Blood flow was found to be higher in women’s brains, meaning they are more likely to empathise, be collaborative, be intuitive and be more focussed.

However, overthinking increases their chances to develop anxiety, depression, insomnia and eating disorders.

As for age range, research by the University of Michigan found that 73 per cent of adults, age between 25 and 35, are most likely to overthink.

Have you ever asked yourself a lot of “what if…” questions? Have you ever spent a lot of time thinking about the ‘hidden meaning’ of what others have said or events that had happened to you? Have you ever felt anxious about what people will interpret on your posts and updates in your social media?

If you have ever experienced any of these signs, yes, you are a classic overthinker.

Ashley Carroll, a psychologist with Parkland Memorial Hospital, says that when we ruminate on certain thoughts, it can snowball into bigger, more extreme negative thinking.

It is not just thinking too much about something — it is obsessing about something so much that it affects one’s ability to function in life.

Interestingly, research has shown that overthinkers believe they are doing themselves a favour by cycling through their thoughts.

However, what they do not know is that overthinking is a dangerous game that can have a lot of negative consequences on their well-being. As overthinkers create many choices and scenarios, they turn out to be an indecisive lot.

Psychologists call this situation ‘analysis paralysis’ where the mind of the overthinkers are stuck in potential consequences that are not yet happening and creates worry about certain outcomes — which paralyse them from taking action.

Luckily, overthinking is not permanent. This mental habit can be broken with the right methods. Overthinkers should practise mindfulness. Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor and breathe in calmly.

Focus on the sensations in your body and listen to your surroundings. Focus your attention on the present moment and declutter your mind.

Next, identify all the bad habits that rob your happiness and cause you to overthink. For instance, feeling not good enough, feeling sorry for yourself or resenting other people’s success are just a few of the bad habits that you need to eliminate.

Instead, count your blessings and show gratitude for everything that happens. Studies show that when you do that, your brain will physically change and attract more joy into your life while increasing your inner peace.

For all the thoughts that you keep on ruminating, replace them with positive thoughts that will produce a positive outcome. Then make plans to expand your skills, enlarge your network and look for opportunities.

Also, buy self-help books such as The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Poke the Box by Seth Godin.

Some readers claim that these books have helped them to take back control of their mind and live life the way it is meant to be experienced.

All in all, do not get lost in thoughts. Learn how to stop spending time in your head. It is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Stop worrying, set your mind free and live your life to the fullest.

In the realm of politics, let us collectively stop overthinking on whether Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin can do the job and instead wish him all the best in running the country.

by Nurafifah Mohammad Suhaimi.

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Trapped in physical, mental silos

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Opponents do not talk to each other because they come from separate disciplines, cultures and beliefs. The world is divided into silos of academic disciplines that do not know how to communicate with each other. Without a common basis of communications, divisions, fragmentation and polarisation can only worsen, which is exactly what we are observing today.

As our students learn more and more about a particular discipline, they know less and less about the big picture. An old Chinese saying is that frogs at the bottom of the well think that the sky is the light above them. As anyone involved in arguments would know, misunderstanding of terminology and lack of empathy for the other side’s position or point of view make for heated debates with little resolution.

In 1959, English physicist and novelist Snow created a stir when he lamented the fact that scientists and artists (including writers and those in humanities) had separate cultures that were not talking to each other. He felt that the intellectual life of the West was being split along two polar groups. “The non-scientists have a rooted impression that the scientists are shallowly optimistic, unaware of man’s condition. On the other hand, the scientists believe that the literary intellectuals are totally lacking in foresight, peculiarly unconcerned with their brother men, in a deep sense anti-intellectual, anxious to restrict both art and thought to the existential moment,” he wrote.

Since the West (mostly America and Europe) has dominated the sciences and the media, it is not surprising that in the last 60 years, Snow’s “two cultures” split has become global. In school, I had to choose either the Arts or Science stream. My parents, influenced by the archetypal Asian Tiger mum, wanted us to be doctors, engineers, lawyers and accountants — in that order. They were obsessed by the idea that we might not have a job if we chose literature, history or philosophy, worried that we would end up “at most, school teachers”. I chose instead to be a practical accountant when I discovered that so many Malaysians were training to be lawyers in London that I feared for my career prospects.

While my accounting and economics training served me well in my career, it was the learning of history, philosophy and today, science and technology, that is needed in this complex and fast-changing world.

This streaming of students into Arts or Science continues till today, resulting in a lack of understanding of each other.

Snow observed that most non-scientists do not appreciate the profound meaning of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, nor do most scientists read Shakespeare. During most of my professional life, I was trying to catch up on my economics, finance and regulatory reading, and the next crisis or urgent email to clear. I hardly had enough time to read or re-read all of Shakespeare’s works or the Chinese novels that I loved in my youth. Television, movies and today, YouTube and mobile blogs, are the main sources of our daily information.

The reality is, of course, much more complex, because when we are trapped in our physical and mental silos, we end up seeing a partial or even distorted view of the world. The upper classes are now living more and more in gated communities, completely separate from the rest of society. The elite media feed the desires of the rich and famous, whereas the mass websites fan prejudices in almost every arena you can think of in the name of freedom — porn, crime, scams, religion, race and tribalism, or them versus us.

No wonder polarisation is worse than ever.

This is why the global financial crisis of 2007 forced me to think outside the box. If the best and brightest among the economics, finance and accounting experts and regulators did not see the crisis coming, what went wrong?

The answer is if we are trained to exclude certain things, of course we will have blind spots, moving into crises with our eyes wide shut. In the First World War, the French army built the defensive Maginot Line across the border with Germany, thinking it was impenetrable. What the French planners were blind to was that the German army simply marched into France through Belgium, completely bypassing the Maginot Line. Similarly, during the Second World War, the British trained their guns in Singapore towards the sea but the Japanese army successfully invaded the island from the mainland.

Many of us have eyes that do not see!

Large organisations have group-think, which means they train their staff to think in a special way that makes the organisation distinct, but there is always the risk that if the organisational culture goes wrong, then very bad mistakes will and can happen. Kodak became successful from making chemical film, but completely missed the digital revolution.

Every businessman knows that one of the biggest headaches in any firm dealing with implementing computerisation is that the business managers don’t understand IT, and the IT experts do not understand the business. The result is that many IT projects are wrong in design, bad in implementation, delayed and often not user-friendly. Murphy’s Law, which many people have observed to be true, says that if anything can happen, it will.

Economics, which is built on the idea of a “rational agent”, with rationality defined as “utility maximising”, basically adopted 17th-19th century Cartesian mathematics and science, excluding the human element from economic models or theories. They thought that homo economicus was rational and therefore predictable.

They forgot that homo politicus and social behaviour are messy, complicated and often unpredictable. Increasingly, because the economists were relatively resistant to moving out of their comfort zone, business studies incorporated elements of psychology, anthropology, sociology, technology and other disciplines. Today, some of the better ideas in economics come from outside the discipline, rather than from the purist schools.

This is where open minds have great advantage over closed minds. If you are open to new ideas and listen more than you talk, chances are you will bridge different cultures and diverse points of view.

The culture of success is built on mistakes and failure. In our success is our failure, and if we learn from our mistakes, success will come. Having an open mind — to have good feedback as to whether we are on the right track — means asking the right questions.

By: Tan Sri Andrew Sheng.

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Merdeka and the captive mind

Saturday, September 7th, 2019
Professor Datuk Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas, a Malaysian academician, sociologist, founder of social science organisations and former politician.

IN the early 1970s, Professor Syed Hussein Alatas spoke on the captive mind on several occasions ― one in Kuala Lumpur, the other in Zurich and on two occasions in Australia.

These were preceded by the paper titled The Captive Mind in Development and Planning in 1969.

The main idea behind the paper was the influence of imitation thinking on our conception of planning and development.

In the course of four years since the 1969 paper, he found that the captive mind has clearly become “a very serious problem of higher education in the entire developing region.” Some 50 years have passed. The condition has not changed.

At that time, there were three universities in the country and three institutes of higher learning which eventually became universities at different times.

Now the number of public universities have increased to some 20. And there are more than 30 private universities in the country.

In a 1974 paper, Syed Hussein discussed the phenomenon of the captive mind and remedial steps that can be taken.

It would still be useful for us to walk through what a captive mind is, much or all of it resonates what our universities are.

The following defines the captive mind:

* Ways of thinking in the fields of sciences and contemporary knowledge dominated by western thought in an imitative and uncritical manner.

* Is uncreative and incapable of raising original problems.

* Is incapable of devising an analytical method independent of current stereotypes.

* Is incapable of separating the particular from the universal in science and thereby properly adapting the universally valid corpus of scientific knowledge to the particular local situations.

* Is fragmented in outlook.

* Is alienated from the major issues of society.

* Is alienated from its own national tradition, it if exists, in the field of its intellectual pursuit.

* Is unconscious of its own captivity and the conditioning factors making it what it is.

* Is not amendable to an adequate quantitative analysis but can be studied by empirical observation.

* Is a result of Western dominance upon the rest of the world.

These are not conclusive. Syed Hussein also explained that one can still find uncreative, imitative, fragmented and alienated minds in the West and anywhere in the world.

However, the counterpart of the captive mind does not exist in the West.

In the 1974 paper, he delved into “the conceptual repertoire of the kind of social sciences that should tackle Asian societies.”

Confining to the field of history as representing the social sciences and the humanities, Syed Hussein cited that a scholar of history assimilates the modern techniques of historiography developed in the West. The techniques possess general universal validity.

He asserted that if a European historian got his facts wrong on Asian history, the captive Asian historian was able to correct him.

But what the Asian historian has not done is the reappraisals of the fundamental presuppositions of historical interpretations.

One instance refers to Southeast Asian history. It is generally viewed that Western colonialism in Southeast Asia has been a factor that introduced the region to the age of modernisation.

Western colonialism, according to Syed Hussein, had also introduced science and technology to the region.

To many of us in the universities, and the intelligent laity at large, we take the above as a fact.

A Malaysian social scientist or historian may be critical of the little details of the history of colonialism in the region.

But to quote Syed Hussein “… as far as the wider issues of history are concerned, he is unaware of them. His mind operates with the stock of historical knowledge acquired from the Western tradition to which he has been exposed. He does not raise new problems while the opportunity for doing it is there.”

On the other hand, his study of the history and sociology of colonialism in Southeast Asia revealed that Western colonialism was a retarding factor in the assimilation of modern science and technology from the West.

In an interview with him in early 2000, he gave the examples of Thailand and Japan (in East Asia).

Syed Hussein spoke of constructive imitation. Imitation saves times and energy and desirable to be adopted and assimilated by the society concerned, both in the realm of artefacts and mentifacts.

Constructive imitation, he stressed, is a law of social life. The essence of his argument is consciousness. And this is utterly critical for academics and scholars who lead taught and thought.

A constructive imitation, therefore, is characterised, among others, by a conscious and rational choice; considers the problems, if any, around the adoption of the new item; increases the understanding around the object for which the new item is meant; and it enters into the collective value system.

The Malaysian academic who is vehemently opposed to colonialism may yet be captive minded.

The captive mind is a phenomenological concept, which can be associated with any political, ideological or social system.

What defines the phenomenon is the state of intellectual bondage and dependence on an external group through popular, intellectual and organisational production and orientation.

Again we have to be reminded of the notion of value free or value neutral social science. We must make a distinction between legitimate value judgment and disguised partiality.

By A Murad Merican.

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Is unilateral conversion the best solution?

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

THE issue of unilateral conversion of minors has once again generated widespread uproar in Malaysia after a proposed statutory amendment failed to materialise recently owing to insufficient quorum in the Selangor State Legislative Assembly.

The Selangor Religious Council (MAIS) had earlier proposed to amend the Administration of Religion of Islam (Selangor) Enactment 2003, section 117 so that conversion of minors, currently requiring the consent of both “mother and father”, require only that of either the “mother or father”

Under the Federal Constitution, Article 12 (4), “The religion of a person under the age of eighteen years is designated by his or her parent or guardian”. Experts disagree as to whether the word “parent” in this provision means both mother and father (i.e. as “parents”) or either one.

Those who claim the former refer to Schedule Eleven of the Federal Constitution which interprets references to the singular to include the plural. Hence the word “parent” must also be understood in the plural form, i.e. as “parents”.

Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution requires the religion of a child, whether boy or girl under 18 years of age, to be determined by a mother or father who is still alive or by both parents who are still alive.

From the view of the Bar Council, the provision in Section 117 of the Administration of Religion of Islam (Selangor) Bill 2019, which considers the consent of one parent to be sufficient, is inconsistent with Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution.

In contrast, the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association and the Malaysian Syariah Lawyers Association have argued that Section 117 of the Selangor 2019 Bill is in line with the decision in the case of Susie Teoh (1990), in which the court ruled that the determination of the religion of a child under 18 years is by permission of her parent or guardian.

Tis was followed by the case of R. Subashini (2008) in which the Federal Court defined “parent” as one of the parents. Therefore, conversion of the child by the father who converted to Islam was valid.

The Bar Council did not approve this, because, in their view, it was contrary to the plural reading of Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution and, therefore, considered the Federal Court’s decision to be incorrect.

At present, it should be noted that in regards to converting children under the age of 18 to Islam, state laws are not standardised.

Some states require both parents’ consent, but others require the consent of only one of the parents.

In eight states the consent of one parent or guardian is sufficient: The Federal Territories, Melaka, Sabah, Sarawak, Johor, Negri Sembilan, Perak and Kedah. In contrast, in four states the consent of both parents or guardians is required to convert children under the age of 18 into Islam, namely, Penang, Selangor, Perlis and Terengganu.

Two states, Pahang and Kelantan, have not provided any requirement for consent from a parent for a minor’s conversion.

On whether the Selangor State Assembly has the power to amend the enactment, it is
argued that it can do so to allow for unilateral conversion but it
is subject to challenge by the court.

For example, the Syariah Criminal Law (II) 1993 Kelantan Enactment, the Syariah Criminal Law (Hudud & Qisas) 2002 Terengganu Enactment and the Syariah Criminal Law (II) 1993 (Amendment) 2015 Kelantan Enactment have been duly passed by the respective States’ Legislative Assemblies and consented by respective sultans. Yet these laws could not be enforced because they are contrary to the Federal Constitution.

However, following the decision of the Federal Court in the case of Indira Gandhi (2018), the word “parent” must be understood to be in the plural form, denoting both “parents”, as interpreted in the Eleventh Schedule of the Federal Constitution and sections 5 and 11 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961.

This decision marked a departure from the previous Federal Court judgment in Subashini (2008) which defined “parent” as one of the parents.

Moreover, the Federal Court also rejected the argument put forth by some parties that the court decision in the case of Susie Teoh (1990), who voluntarily converted at age 16, had anything to do with the interpretation of the word “parent” as singular or plural. And until the Federal Court revises the decision in the future, Indira Gandhi’s case remains binding for all.

From the Islamic point of view, the child’s welfare remains paramount and should come above all else. This should not be compromised even when it involves religious status.

It is better that the determination of a child’s religion takes into account the custodianship of the child.

Solving this predicament would require cooperation by all parties, especially parents, guardians and the authorities to prioritise the welfare of the child.

This can be done through a mediation process which involves a third party that will facilitate both parents towards reaching a compromise regarding the religious status of their child, for the sake of the child’s welfare.

By Dr Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil

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HOTS must start with teachers

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019
Dr Maszlee (centre) sharing a light moment with Jasni (second from right) while ministry official Jamil Mohamed and seminar participants look on.

Dr Maszlee (centre) sharing a light moment with Jasni (second from right) while ministry official Jamil Mohamed and seminar participants look on.

TEACHERS are superheroes but their power does not come from an iron hammer or body armour.

It comes from the purity of heart and the ability to guide our children, said Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

He said the ministry would continuously monitor the teachers’ workload to make sure that they were not bogged down by administrative duties that hamper productivity.

“We must make sure they continue to be educators and heroes to our kids,” he said, adding that a discussion would be held with them on the Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS).

“It’s important to engage with teachers as they can give us feedback from the ground.

“Teachers are an important part of the Education Ministry’s big family.”

Since 2013, HOTS questions have found their way into national level examinations. And they’ll gradually be increased until 2020.

This is part of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 plan to develop students who can think critically and creatively The Star reported in April last year.

“I sympathise with teachers having to prepare HOTS questions and answers because it’s stifling them.

“It’s no longer HOTS if it has become restrictive. HOTS cannot be schematic. It’s about critical thinking and how you see the world.

“You can’t just look at things in black and white.”

He said teachers must practise HOTS themselves before they can pass on the skill of thinking creatively and innovatively to students.

He was speaking at the West Malaysia Malay Teachers Union (KGMMB) seminar in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 23.

Recommending that participants watch “Laskar Pelangi”, and “Sang Pencerah”, he said these movies about exemplary teachers, were his favourites.

As for books, he singled out “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” by Yuval Noah Harari as a good read.

“The author predicts that what our children learn today will become irrelevant two or three decades down the road.

“And, 60% of jobs created then will not even be things we can imagine now.

“So, teachers must adopt a futuristic approach to ensure that our students are competitive.”

Teaching kids about technology, he said, could come later. Many are already more advance than adults.

“Teamwork, decision-making skills and knowing how to solve problems, are what’s needed.”

In his address, KGMMB president Jasni Md Kechik said the seminar provided a platform for teachers to understand current policies and facilitate the sharing of ideas between educators and the ministry.

It was also aimed at promoting administrative excellence in the union while ensuring efficient and progressive implementation of education policies.

He said it was vital that teachers and the ministry were on the same track.

Urging young teachers to be part of a union, he said it was not only to ensure their welfare but also to raise the standard of the teaching profession.

“Young teachers are not keen on joining unions because they are in the comfort zone.

“They feel that they are better off compared to their seniors.

“So, they’re not interested in championing issues related to the profession.

“But the main reason for joining a union or association is to protect the welfare of civil servants. “This is in line with the teachers’ code of ethics,” he said, while requesting that the Government allow high grade civil servants to continue contributing to the union.

By Christina Chin
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Future of thought

Sunday, January 13th, 2019
In future, technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics and other digital algorithms will aid in man’s thought process. Pix source:

MAN’S thought process is the result of a combination of his biological, hereditary neuro mechanism, the environment, belief system, educative process and technology.

The biological neuro mechanism refers to the human DNA, which at its inception is made up of the parents’ chromosomes, thus inheriting their behavioural traits and known as the genotype.

When the genotype interacts with the environment it becomes known as phenotype. Its DNA would mutate for the organism (Man) to survive in the specific environment.

The environment, both natural and man-made, plays an important part in shaping man’s thought process which manifests in his behavioural pattern.

The natural environment was the dominant determinant of man’s thinking process and thought patterns in the early stages of human evolution.

His thinking was developed through experiential learning by way of interacting with the natural forces. Initially, his reactions were determined by the dictates of the forces for he was ignorant of their working mechanisms.

In reacting to the physical environment, man thought of ways, consciously or intuitively to adapt or to surmount the challenges.

Whether he was at the mercy of these environmental challenges or able to cope with them depended on his level of thought process and thinking capacity.

Thus, to rationalise his existence he ascribed spiritual supernatural powers to these natural phenomena.

As his main preoccupation was with survival, he had to create the ecosystem to enable him to exist and bring meaning to his life.

He did this by developing a matrix of harmonious interaction between himself, his surroundings (environment) and his animistic belief to create a conducive lifestyle using the basic primitive technology at his disposal.

Besides the physical and cerebral aspects of his ecosystem, man’s thought process is also influenced by his belief system, values and knowledge.

The interplay of these factors formulates his organisational set-up.

Depending on the prowess of his thought process, his organisational set-up ranges from the rudimentary to the complex.

Through time, man improves his thought process from cumulative experiential learning that provides him with the thinking to develop mechanical technology to utilise the natural resources for his benefit.

From the original thinking for survival, man creates and develops scientific and conceptual thinking aided by the technological tools he created.

Such tools or technology have become a crucial and integral part of his ingenuity to create a conducive living environment.

The level of man’s ingenuity as an expression of his thought process creates his tangible and intangible ecosystem.

With this he engages in the process of discovery and rediscovery to construct, deconstruct and reconstruct the ecosystem to advance the comfort of his existence.

Once man become organised in a societal matrix his man-made ecosystem influences his cerebral dynamics.

He places priority in utilising environmental natural resources to serve his needs.

The preservation of the natural environment becomes secondary to his need to create the infrastructure to suit his lifestyle that invariably results in the depletion of the natural resources.

Man’s material greed factors prominently in this destructive equation, sacrificing his moral and ethical integrity.

With an advanced thought process, the result of having accumulated knowledge that allows man to be creative and innovative in using the environment for his physical needs as well as creating expressions for his spiritual and aesthetic needs, the nature of his organisation becomes sophisticated and civilised.

His civilisational progress and advancement parallels his development of technology, which services his needs and creates new ones.

His thought process creates the technology which forms the basis of new technology, which constructs his ever-changing existence.

Currently, the scientific thought process is given prominence by way of computational and innovative thinking for they develop the technology that generates man’s materialistic lifestyle.

Literary, creative and abstract thinking that are the domain of the fine arts, humanities and social science, though pertinent, are only given secondary emphasis.

For they could not produce the kind of technology that could produce man’s material needs. What would man’s thinking process be in the future and how will it affect his existence?

In future, technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics and other digital algorithms will aid in man’s thought process.

It enhances the thinking process by taking over mundane tasks and even computational and conceptual thinking allowing man to be more innovative and to explore the quantum and the metaphysical realm.

However, these technological advancements will also adversely affect man’s traditional skills as well as subvert his imaginative capabilities as in the case of virtual reality.

Further, most housework, transportation, manufacturing and service industries, educational and health services employ a range of semi-automated or fully automated digital and/or robotic appliances.

What is the prognosis of man’s future thinking ability and thought process?

Will it regress to a level of subservience to machines or will it evolve into a higher level of cerebral conception and perception beyond the normal physical conscious confines in which the mind expands the thought process exploring the uncharted recesses of man’s creative and innovative dimensions.


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Using common sense to build critical thinking skills

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019
TOC tools can be used to facilitate change in students to think at a higher and more critical level. FILE PIC

AFTER years of studying, researching and publishing on matters concerning Moral Education, I was invited to be a trainer-of-trainers in the 1990s.

It was a national in-house training for selected Moral Education teachers who would then train their respective states and districts. The first workshop I was given to handle was on “Using Theory of Constraints (TOC) to Teach Moral Education”.

Being a novice trainer, I had no idea what TOC was about, but I took the challenge to read up, research and prepare my materials.

I have no regrets doing this. I later learnt that none of the trainers wanted to take up that topic as they found it theoretical and complicating.

It was one of the best workshops I had given to the six zones in different parts of Malaysia because the whole TOC focused on common sense. If one had common sense, one could apply that theory in Moral Education which could be expanded to their daily lives.

TOC creator Dr Elihayu Goldratt (1947-2011) said: “Every improvement is a change but not every change is an improvement.” Three main questions guide this philosophy:

WHAT to change;

WHAT to change to; and,

HOW to cause the change.

TOC is a thinking process that originated in the business world and was later adapted in the education scenario.

The idea is to apply common sense methodologies to logically identify and overcome key limitations that inhibit a person, group or organisation from achieving their goal.

Three tools introduced in TOC are cloud, ambitious target and branch. Cloud helps identify solutions to internal and external conflicts, ambitious target creates a plan to overcome the obstacles that are hindering success and branch identifies how the consequences of decisions lead to positive or negative results.

And all it needs is common sense to think through the whole process of resolving issues and dilemmas. It’s part of training students to achieve higher order thinking skills (HOTS)

There is no need for long sentences or bombastic words to resolve moral dilemmas. Students can use the diagrams in the tools to think through and resolve issues or come up with suggestions.

Even preschoolers can be taught to apply TOC by using pictures and symbols. One does not need to have excellent reading skills as what is expected in the current process of teaching HOTS in schools.

I was shocked to see Year 1 language books which expected 6- and 7-year-olds to read to apply HOTS. We have got HOTS totally wrong, again.

HOTS is not about merely using intellect to read and having the ability to resolve based on the reading process. By using the TOC tools, HOTS can be achieved. It is a matter of using common sense.

Each of the TOC tools can be used to facilitate change in students to think at a higher and more critical level.

Most educators want their students to become responsible and productive. In spite of their good intentions, dedication and best practices, there are obstacles that limit their progress.

By Dr Vishalache Balakrishnan.

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Cultivating a thinking culture

Sunday, January 6th, 2019
At the heart of the Genosis Programme lies cooperative and collaborative learning, with a strong leaning towards Higher Order Thinking Skills and Inquiry-Based Learning.

At the heart of the Genosis Programme lies cooperative and collaborative learning, with a strong leaning towards Higher Order Thinking Skills and Inquiry-Based Learning.

WE REFER to the report, “A move in the right direction” (StarEdu, Dec 16).

Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) would like to thank Dr Gan Siowck Lee for her invaluable feedback and input as a seasoned curriculum and instruction specialist on the Genosis Programme.

The points brought up regarding efforts to ensure the Genosis Programme’s success – comprising its planning, implementation, stakeholders’ involvement and inclusion of a truly eclectic section of the schooling population – are at the core of AIM’s education team’s roll out initiative for this programme.

Rest assured that the AIM team has continued to work very closely with the Education Ministry and other relevant stakeholders, to ensure there are no misalignments between the Genosis Programme and any of the current national education enhancement programmes and initiatives. This makes the programme easily understandable and implementable with a clear focus on the significant improvement of learning and teaching in schools.

At the heart of Genosis lies cooperative and collaborative learning, with a strong leaning towards Higher Order Thinking Skills and Inquiry-Based Learning. With the provision of comprehensive professional development, teaching tools and learning resources, we believe teachers would be able to support students in successfully acquiring the full range of 21st century aptitudes.

In order to ensure the successful implementation of the programme, the AIM team will work with the school leaders and other stakeholders to closely guide, support and monitor the progress of each school.

Both on-site visits and remote consultations will be conducted at each school with the intent of being supportive assessments for the school to enable them to celebrate successes, identified strengths as well as to sharpen their focus on areas for development.

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Striving for creative learning

Thursday, October 25th, 2018
Manyin striking a gong to open the international conference on education transformation in Kuching.

Manyin striking a gong to open the international conference on education transformation in Kuching.

KUCHING: Sarawak plans to set up model classrooms next year to introduce the concept of cluster grouping of students.

Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin said the cluster concept formed part of the 21st century classroom to encourage creative learning among students.

“If we want our boys and girls to be creative and have critical thinking, we cannot use the present classroom setup.

“In the ideal classroom for the 21st century, students will be in clusters of four, five or six. This encourages creativity, critical thinking and questioning

Manyin said the new classroom concept was based on what he saw in schools during visits to Finland and Beijing, China, earlier this year.

Manyin (second from right) looking at a display of students’ work at the international conference on education transformation in Kuching. — Photos: ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

Manyin (second from right) looking at a display of students’ work at the international conference on education transformation in Kuching. — Photos: ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

He said his ministry would start with one model classroom in each of the state’s 12 administrative divisions, equipped with desks and chairs grouped in clusters and computers for teaching and learning.

“We’re going to start next year. We will have to get the desks ready and distribute to some of these schools.

“We have not identified the schools yet but there will be schools accessible for others to visit and have a look,” he said, adding that model classrooms will also be set up at the Batu Lintang Teacher Education Institute here as it had the required space.

In his speech earlier, Manyin said conventional teaching methods such as rote learning were no longer appropriate in today’s world.

He said educators must prepare students for the requirements of Industry 4.0, including teaching them to think and be creative.

By Sharon Ling
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