IN his book “Mindware – Tools for Smart Thinking”, eminent psychologist Richard E. Nisbett expounds the merits and pitfalls of different thinking tools that include inference and interpretation (construal), making choices, categorisation and relationships, causality, logical and dialectical reasoning and good theories and simple explanations. A fuller grasp of the knowledge and understanding of these thinking tools will help us make decisions that will turn out to be wise, practical, sustainable and beneficial.
After reading the book, I am drawn to have a closer and analytical look at the implementation of thinking skills in our schools.
Firstly, the Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) was introduced a few years ago to erase the “rote learning” and “memorisation” commonly associated with our teaching-learning and examination system. In fact, a lack of HOTS among our students has long been touted as a main cause of our students’ poor Programme for International Student Achievements (PISA) performance.
The Education Ministry has embarked on a plan to gradually increase the percentage or number of HOTS questions in every relevant public examination paper.
In the recently completed primary school assessments examination (UPSR), apparently more HOTS questions were included.
HOTS encapsulate critical and creative thinking. It results in creativity and innovativeness; bringing forth “creations” and innovations. The mind has to be free and relaxed and the environment has to be conducive to facilitate this.
So, is an examination setting, that is in an enclosed hall or classroom and with limited time constraints, the right avenue to exercise and test, least encourage, HOTS?
If answering HOTS questions is challenging, setting and designing the questions will certainly be a very daunting task. Turning the table around, can we expect teachers who are assigned to set HOTS questions to be able to write a required number of questions within the time and space constraints encountered by students in an examination?
Shouldn’t HOTS questions then instead be applied and capitalised in problem-based project assignments that are part of school-based assessments now? This will allow students the freedom of time and space to really engage their thinking skills to the problems on hand. There has to be liberty of spirit for ingenuity, creativity and innovativeness to flourish.
Secondly, the next thinking skill being rolled out now to schools is the “Computational Thinking” (CT) skills. The resource materials on CT prescribe some nine operators, namely, data collection, data analysis, data representation, problem decomposition, abstraction, algorithms and procedures, automation, simulation and parellisation.
This is comprehensive. But, are they really new concepts being introduced into our curriculum? I think not.
I would think that properly conducted Science and Mathematics lessons would have many elements of CT already incorporated in them. Even non-Science subjects have employed CT elements.
Don’t we emphasise in our Science and Mathematics classes skills such as observation, systematic data collection, tabulation and graphic presentation, interpretation, comparison, inferences, analysis, projection, induction, deduction and synthesis among others?
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2016/10/16/thinking-tools-and-skills/