ATConnect All >

Critical and Creative Thinking Matters

Lisa Holohan
Assistant Dean of Learning – School Improvement

For thousands of years the Ancient Greeks dominated with their model of education. There were two pathways, citizen or apprentice. As an apprentice, a child would be guided by an adult to learn a craft or trade such as farming, metalworking or pottery. As a citizen the pathway was one of intellectual development often resulting in private tutors who would expand a young man’s knowledge of arts, science and philosophy.

In today’s educational settings we arguably have two main purposes; the pragmatic to contribute economically and the intrinsic, to become engaged in life through careers. So, while having an Education will still help you get a job, the difference today is we want our children to enjoy what they do and become reflective and fulfilled – not just make money.

Australia’s Focus

One of two goals of the 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians is that: All young Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens.

It comes as no surprise then that the Australian Curriculum has an explicit focus on critical and creative thinking and teachers value the representation of strategies that facilitate cognitive skills such as; analysis, evaluation, inference, and self-regulation.

Critical thinking is at the core of most intellectual activity and involves: students learning to recognise or develop an argument, use evidence in support of that argument, draw reasoned conclusions, and use information to solve problems. While Creative thinking involves students learning to generate and apply new ideas in specific contexts, seeing existing situations in a new way, identifying alternative explanations, and seeing or making new links that generate a positive outcome. .

Jobs of the future

Clearly, automation and artificial intelligence are having a profound impact on the career pathways of the future. Some experts claim that 40% of jobs in Australia won’t exist in the future. According to Lisa Denny a researcher into the interrelated nature of the population, education and training, when considering career paths to follow, young Australians should be mindful that the jobs at risk are those which have high levels of routine, and predictable procedures requiring accuracy. These include administrative and clerical jobs, such as working as a receptionist or data entry clerks. Denny suggests that automation or AI will replace these jobs, if it hasn’t already.

When you’re competing with robots, which skills will keep you employable?

The ones that robots can’t master. Workers in the future will need to be creative to fully realize the benefits of all the new things for the future—new products, ways of working and technologies. Technically, according to Linkedin reativity is the most in demand skill in the world today.

Additionally, a person with critical thinking skills can suggest innovative solutions and ideas, solve complex problems using reasoning and logic and evaluate arguments. People who can turn data into insightful interpretations will be highly sought after in the Fourth Industrial revolution due to the interconnections and complexity of fields like computer science, engineering and biology.

Here’s just a quick look at automation potential of select positions, according to a study by Oxford University:

As a parent how can I encourage Critical and Creative Thinking?

So how do we set our children up for future success in a world where even accountants are likely to be automated? In this digital age it is important for our children to learn how to screen out distractions in their environment and critically analyse the world around them.

Here are my top five strategies for parents wishing to encourage creativity and critical thinking from home:

1. Have fun together solving problems Board Games and Puzzles

2. Challenge assumptions, especially in the news. Start with this question:
 Would you describe the major news stories as important? Why, or why not?

3. Question the world using these critical stems:
 What would happen if…
 What would it be like to…
 What did you think when…
 What can we make with…

In terms of developing 21st century skills, which includes setting up students for lifelong learning, teaching critical and creative thinking is at our core business of learning.

Have any questions about this article? Please click here to contact the author.