“Critical Thinking”

One of the English teachers sent a poem to our group message the other day, encouraging us to let our students’ creativity grown, not be squashed by the teacher’s rules and regulations.

“21st century teaching” and HOTS (higher order thinking skills) are the hip new thing in the Malaysian curriculum. As both an education and Malaysian outsider, I can’t help but notice that this is more lip service than anything else. Prior to this, Malaysian schools practiced a lot of wrote memorization and lecturing-which, while certainly having it’s time and place is certainly a wonderful way to put a class to sleep in under 5 minutes.

No, what kills me about HOTS is that these critical thinking skills are being taught in the same way as before-by having the kids memorize the answers and regurgitating what the teacher has TOLD them the analysis means. Of course, this happens stateside too, but in my experience there was a concerted effort to have us come up with our own theories and ideas.

A common exchange:

Teacher, what’s the right opinion?

Najmi, it’s your opinion, there is no WRONG answer.

OK…but what’s the right answer?

Combined with the collective nature of Malaysian secondary (aka mass copying and answer sharing) I’ll be interested to see how critical thinking skills develop within the specific framework set by the MOE.

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