One of the biggest causes for concern among parents of today is the fact that computers are taking a greater place in the role of education. Students no longer carry slide rules to school and even in early grades, they are encouraged to use calculators to do simple computations such as the four basics, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.
By the time students reach high school, they haven’t learned any skills in critical thinking, and those that do master them are typically the first to be accepted into major universities. If you are concerned that your children aren’t being taught to think for themselves, you can be a driving force in their lives. In fact, getting your teens to think for themselves might be easier than you think.
Recently, MindEdge Learning commissioned a study of 1,000 young Millennials. When questioned, 36% felt that they had mastered the skills necessary for critical thinking. That equates to 36 of every 100 high school graduates felt that they could think for themselves. What about the other 64%? If you feel your teens are somewhere in that lower 64th percentile, it’s time to have some fun with teaching them how to think for themselves.
Answer a Question with a Question
At first, this may be totally frustrating for your kids. They ask you questions every day and expect mom or dad to have an answer ready at the tip of their tongues. Instead of giving an answer as you normally do, try asking them a question that forces them to think for themselves. Use some kind of contextual clue that should lead them to the answer, but have fun doing it. If possible, use an outrageous example so they catch the fun. You might even find them asking questions just to see what your responding question will be.
No, this is not about a circa 1960s Beatles album. It’s about taking them someplace where they are forced to solve a mystery within a pre-set period of time. A good example of this is a Boston Escape Room. This is a cool experience for teens and adults alike. Each room is themed so that the mystery you will be challenged to solve focuses on a different plot.
Each room is ‘locked’ for an hour in which the team works together to solve a mystery. Once the correct answer is found, the door is unlocked, and the game is over. No, you won’t technically be locked in like you would be in jail, but if the theme is set in a prison, you will be made to feel like you are guarded under lock and key.
You Are Not a Drill Sergeant So Keep It Light
In the end, teach your kids that thinking of solutions can be fun. Yes, they are being challenged, but there’s nothing like that feeling of accomplishment when they finally ‘get it.’ Remember, not only will you be preparing them for a future where they will be expected to think for themselves, but you’ll also be boosting their sense of independence and self-esteem. It’s all in the approach, so keep it light and have fun doing it.