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‘Creative thinking and critical thinking are interlinked’

‘Creative thinking and critical  thinking are interlinked’

KARACHI: ‘From active learning to critical thinking’ was the theme as the Teachers Resource Centre (TRC) celebrated its journey over the years and shared new initiatives at a hotel here on Saturday.

“In a classroom of many students, it is the assertive students who usually ask questions but the teacher should teach in a way that will also motivate the shy students,” said Nargis Alavi, principal of Habib Schools, while speaking at the event. “And if the children are involved in a classroom activity, don’t disturb them. Interfere only if you find any one of them stuck or in need of help or some guidance,” she said, adding that what they heard they might forget but what they saw and did they remembered.

During a panel discussion moderated by Aziz Kabani, DMD of the Sindh Education Foundation, Audrey Juma, director of Notre Dame Institute of Education, said that right now “we find most students just going through textbooks and going with the flow”. But they needed to be taught different ways of learning. “Critical thinking is doable. It needs to be taught and practices must be put in place to make it a habit,” she said.

Saima Javed of Children’s Global Network spoke about the importance of early years of education. “Creative thinking and critical thinking are interlinked,” she said.

Azra Aqueel of the Karachi Cambridge School said she felt that thought-provoking questions were usually absent from the classroom.

That’s when a senior teacher and owner of a school herself, Ms Haque, sitting in the audience, stood up to point out to him and the rest that they didn’t need proper, well-equipped classrooms to teach children. “Take your students out. Make them sit among the plants and trees. Show them the leaves and flowers and conduct a lesson in botany,” she said demonstrating to all that they just needed to have the will to find a way.

Nargis Sultana of the Open Society Foundation said teachers should promote debating skills in young students and also the reading culture.

Idrees Jatoi, deputy director, curriculum development, said that even in the textbooks and Education Policy of 2009 there was provision for critical thinking. “Textbooks writers need to be sensitised to this concept but if you go through our social science curriculum, you’ll see that it is based on critical thinking,” he said.

“But,” he also said, “there is a huge difference between private schools and government schools as they lack some basic facilities like proper classrooms, electricity, etc.”

Earlier, speaking of their specially-designed lesson planning in her welcome address, TRC director Ambreena Ahmed explained how those lessons, available on the TRC website, were based on national curricula.

On the occasion several partners also working with TRC over the years shared their experiences.

Rana Hussain, senior adviser with the British Council, recalled how TRC actually started work with teachers even before its formal establishment. “It was not in 1986 but in 1982 when there were curfews and schools were closed in the city. That’s when a small group of teachers, including Stella Jafri, Zubaida Dossal, Kaniz Wajid Khan and Nargis Alavi, decided to bring together more teachers, schools, students and parents for a meeting at the Habib Girls School.

Randy Hatfield, senior adviser with the USAID, said that he had found that the teachers working with the organisation took imperfection to make something out of it. “You take children from where they are to the next level, which is great. Please don’t let them colour inside the lines, let them cross boundaries because as I have seen with TRC, it is not about ‘Ilm’ but all about ‘Talib-i-ilm’,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2015

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