Are Schools Failing Our Kids By Not Teaching Critical Thinking and Problem Solving?
Sep 18, 2013, 08:40 ET
ST. LOUIS, Sept. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- American 15-year-olds perform around 26th in the world in a critical thinking test in math, 17th in science and 12th in reading, according to the Program for International Student Assessment, or the PISA test. Unlike exams that quantify students' ability to memorize material, this one evaluates their effectiveness at problem-solving. Since 2000 it has been administered to millions of teens in more than 40 countries, with startling results. Students in Finland, Korea, Japan and Canada consistently score much higher than their peers in Germany, the U.K., America and France. The usual explanations for these achievements, such as wealth, privilege and race, do not apply.
Every parent obviously wants their children to be successful in school because they want them to be able to get a good job and be successful in life.
"The disconnect between what children are taught and what they need to know to be successful on the job and in life is a real situation that every parent and teacher needs to be aware of, so that it can be fixed," says Cathy Viney, Teaching Strategies Expert and Executive Director of the nonprofit Applied Scholastics International at www.appliedscholastics.org
Viney adds, "Strength in science and math is the best predictor of future earnings because science and math require the discipline of critical thinking and problem solving which is an absolute must in the workplace."
Critical thinking and problem solving is exactly what author Amanda Ripley found to be the answer to the question, "What is the most effective way to teach our children?"
Ms. Riply researched this question and published her findings in a recent book entitled, "The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way." Ms. Ripley followed three American teenagers who spent a year as foreign-exchange students in Finland, Poland and South Korea. In each country, the American teenagers were astonished by how hard their fellow students worked and how seriously they took their studies. Math classes emphasized, for example, how geometry, trigonometry and calculus work together in the real world. Students learned to work with numbers in their heads rather than rely on high-tech gadgets and teachers were intensely interested in their pupil's success and were treated with respect and held in high esteem.
According to Ms. Ripley, "Children succeed in classrooms where they are expected to succeed. Schools work best when they operate with a clarity of mission: as places to help students master complex academic material not as sites dedicated to excellence in sport. When teachers demand rigorous work, students often rise to the occasion, whereas tracking students at different cognitive levels tends to 'diminish learning and boost inequality.' Low expectations are often duly rewarded."
Ms. Ripley found each country focused on the following key factors:
- Teacher training which produces quality teachers
- Teaching strategies which raise the student's ability to think critically, solve problems and make an argument
- Parents which also emphasize raising their child's ability to think critically, solve problems and make an argument
- Teaching strategies that stimulate and challenge students, emphasizing science, math and other challenging subjects that require students to think
"The story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher who successfully inspired his dropout-prone students to learn calculus exemplifies what can be achieved with any student," says Ms. Viney. "Since 1972 Applied Scholastics has been providing teaching strategies that raise the ability of students to think out of the box and solve real life problems. We call this program the Applied Scholastics Achievement Program™ (ASAP) based on the educational works of American author and educator, L. Ron Hubbard."
According to Mr. Hubbard, there are 10 vital points to keep in mind if one wishes a subject to be taught with maximal effectiveness, including:
- Present it in its most interesting form.
- Demonstrate its general use in life.
- Demonstrate its specific use to the student in life.
- Stress that importance resides only in individual skill in using the subject.
A free guide to the benefits of The Applied Scholastics Achievement Program™ and the entire "Teaching" article is available at www.appliedscholastics.org or call Toll free: 877-75-LEARN.
For media inquiries, contact Christine Gerson at (314) 344-6355
About Applied Scholastics International
The nonprofit Applied Scholastics International is a trusted authority on the subject of teaching strategies and proficiency based learning and provides timely and useful information so as to help teachers and schools improve the lives of ALL students of all ages including those negatively affected by learning difficulties and the social, economic and emotional issues associated with these difficulties. For information, go to www.appliedscholastics.org.
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