As we engage the 21st century, insure your children learn critical thinking skills during the K-12 years. Otherwise, they may be functionally illiterate in the evolving 21st century workplace. Just as your children must learn the basic building blocks of reading, writing and math, as we engage the 21st century, they must learn the basic building blocks associated with critical thinking. Society and public educators are completely ignorant to this fact. In this article, I will offer you a comprehensive overview as to why this is true. Once you are informed, you can help educate and inform others as to the criticality and urgency of the situation.
Critical thinking is an essential set of reasoning and communication skills required to operate effectively in society. The basic concept of “don’t believe everything you read” comes to mind. It is an essential reasoning skill. The word “skill” is key here because it is more than just common sense or something that children learn as a natural course of growing up. It is a skill that must be taught and learned. Proficiency in critical thinking is essential to lifelong learning and to dealing effectively with a world of accelerating change. To get a better feel for this, consider the following: For starters, compare how we think about the job market today to how your children may have to think in the future.
For example, today we think: here is my resume; hire me; tell me what to do and then pay me an hourly wage for doing it. This thinking evolved out of the industrial revolution. It assumes stable business content, stable business processes and established companies and corporations who capitalize on the content and processes, produce products, hire people, etc. This basic thinking still exists today.
On the other hand, in the future, companies will be faced with a rapidly changing world in which much business content becomes obsolete every few years. This means companies and corporations must continuously change, adjust and integrate new information and new content into their business processes. Otherwise, they cannot compete in the evolving global information economy.
Employees of the future must adapt as well. Employees of the future are children today. Therefore, children must have the skills necessary to advance beyond the tell-me-what-to-do type jobs. It is easy to say companies will simply re-train their employees when necessary. This may be true today; however, in the future workplace, corporate sponsored re-training may not be an option.
Think about it. By the time corporations pay for and establish formal training programs to train employees on new processes, the processes may be obsolete. So, as workers, our children must be able to train themselves. They must know how to access raw information, process it and apply it real time on the job. There will be no books, no manuals, no teachers, no corporate training programs === just a vast sea of raw information. To be functional, our children must have critical thinking skills. They must have the skills necessary to access this vast sea of raw information, critically evaluated it, weed out what is not applicable and effectively apply information in ways that add value to the business processes of their employers.
For this reason, for years, academia and education researchers have tried to incorporate critical thinking in early K-12 education. Now, as we enter and engage the 21st century, it is even more imperative that we incorporate critical thinking in early K-12 education.