In the past week, we have seen graduates from various universities in Namibia claiming their diligent work over the years of studies. Now one wants to pause to acknowledge the efforts rendered in the process and congratulate those young minds of our generation.
Moreover, I have read with keen interest at the critical thinking competition that was launched last week in Windhoek. The Namibian’s acting editor, Christof Maletsky said, “We are pushing pupils to deepen their critical thinking capacities and the way in which they present it,” “We need a thinking nation.”
Rightfully said, but what really is the nature of critical thinking? The proper implementation or teaching of critical thinking in the modern Namibian academic context.
“Knowledge is power”, if the saying is anything to go by, the underlying assumption is that those who do not possess knowledge are indeed powerless. The production of this knowledge is of keen interest to the writer here. Especially what the Namibian nation can offer the global intellectus. The fear is that we have become consumers of knowledge rather than inventors/ producers of knowledge. There is no place in the school curriculum either at primary or secondary school that seeks to impact this.
Let me hurry along and return to the definition of critical thinking. Critical thinking is the use of a combination of logical, rhetorical, and philosophical skills and attitudes which promotes
the ability to discover intersubjectively what we should believe. From logic, critical thinking derives methods for analysing and evaluating arguments. From rhetoric, it derives methods for invention (that is, for generating questions about a given theme or problem) and communication. From philosophy, it derives a critically reflective, reflexive, ethical,and pragmatic attitude.
Too little and to no training in the formal academic setup pays enough attention to the development of logical reasoning in any given subject matter. Overemphasis on theoretical understanding of subject content without allowing the probing of these truths leads to lazy, under-baked intellectuals. A young mind is like a sponge, often absorbing much if given the chance. Therefore the focus of education should be, apart from presenting established truths, (I use the term education loosely here to refer to the processes in teaching methodologies) should allow the deliberate intellectual to suspense of these truths in the classroom setting. Even so, it needs to be stated here that the Namibian knowledge realm is under-represented in the global body of knowledge. We should train our pupils and students alike from an early stageto use rhetorical reasoning which is defined as is the faculty of discovering the crux of the matter. It is a characteristic of rhetorical invention and it precedes argumentation.
And it aims at using reason and evidence to express opinions, show weaknesses in other’s argument and to achieve correct view and mutual understanding. To that end, knowledge is not parroted but becomes alive in minds of the people.
Critical thinking is a skill of thinking that can be taught, and it surpasses the ideologies that intelligence is in-born or a talent gifted to some and not others. The restlessness of an inquisitive mind can be nurtured and it should. Minds can be trained to analyze, evaluate, and re-evaluate the content of any subject matter in hope to arrive at a new position of knowledge or gain greater understanding of existing knowledge. Knowledge should always be interrogated and not rubber stumped.
Where are the great minds of Africa; the likes of Kwame Gyekye, Mbiti, John S, Eze, Emmanuel Chukwudi, Masolo, D. A. Oh, how I long to see the rise of great minds in Namibia like these and more.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015