8 Advantages of Encouraging Independent Thinking in Children.
8 Advantages of Encouraging Independent Thinking in Children.
Independent thinking helps students look beyond the obvious and trains them to find new solutions to changing realities of our times.
Independent thinking fosters confident leaders who have the courage, ideas and skills to create a brave new world of justice, empathy and equity.
One of the primary objectives of education is to help students become intellectually independent. The basic idea of education is to create independent thinkers who lead the society, the nation and the world with more confidence, compassion and comprehension!
Every human being is intellectually distinct, diverse and dynamic and the role of education is to discover the diverse intellectual capacity, aptitude and inclinations of each student, helping them develop and harness their abilities independently in their own distinct way.
An education so designed helps students become confident under their own skin and comfortable with their own way of thinking.
Irrespective of what the schools have generally become in our times, schools supposedly exist to promote and inculcate intellectual independence, in other words independent thinking.
If this doesn’t happen, then schools become centres of indoctrination and conditioning of the minds.
The dangers with the current model of standardised education is that we are producing the next generation with closed minds – the minds that are less appreciative of diversity, differences in opinions and alternative realities.
In a closed system, the students remain within the box and over a period of time become resistant to new ideas and thoughts, rather than producing new ideas.
In a closed environment, children grow up to be less empathetic and tend to get shocked at the first sign of exposure to a reality that is different than what they have seen over a long period of time.
Since the modern education system was primarily developed in the Western civilisation based on their needs, realities and understanding of the world, it draws heavily from their materialistic worldview and outlook of life. That is the reason why much of the modern educational thought, taught across the world is Eurocentric in approach, understanding and instruction.
With Egocentrism also being at the heart of the Western materialistic worldview, it has also come to dominate our education system, where we see education only as a tool of material progress.
This morbid obsession with material progress clouds the minds and stops learners from balanced, independent thinking.
Change in approach
In order to develop independent thinking, our education system should free itself from Egocentrism, which puts the self at the centre of the educational pursuit rather than the noble ideal of the society’s greater good.
In order to develop independent thinking, our education system should develop learning systems and modules that are independent of the Western hegemony or Eurocentrism and develop the educational thought that is on the one hand drawn purely from local mores, thoughts and needs, while on the other hand it should be truly universal in its outlook.
When we say independence, it includes individual as well as collective independence.
Every individual possesses a diverse set of gifts. The process of education is to unearth these gifts within the collective atmosphere, while maintaining the individual distinction and harnessing the inherent dynamism.
This needs a highly creative and customised approach and the modern standardised system of ‘one-size-fits’ all promotes little independent thinking.
In the current system, rather than helping children discover and harness their ability to think independently, helping them come up with new ideas, children are fed with the ideas to think in a certain way.
Rather than encouraging them to think outside the box, children are trained to stay within the box.
Contrary to this, in a system that promotes independent thinking students benefit immensely.
Here are some benefits:
- Independent thinking will give students the confidence to pursue their ideas and thoughts without being completely dependent on established norms or what has already been tried or done previously.
- It makes them more thoughtful and observant and protects them from taking things for granted. It gives them the courage to question the status quo, seeking their own answers to all the questions that come to their minds!
- It protects them from going through the motion mindlessly, rather it makes them pause and ponder on everything they experience.
- Independent thinking helps them become more alive and helps them appreciate the beauty and bounties of life more wholeheartedly.
- It helps them look at the problems with a different vision and trains them to find solutions to problems that are otherwise unresolved or need new resolutions.
- Independent thinking is the source of new ideas, innovations and more deep-rooted progress in the society. The real empowerment happens through fresh, independent home-grown ideas rather than borrowing stale foreign ideas and blind imitation.
- Independent thinking helps resist docile compliance with any injustice or evil order, rather it helps push the boundaries and harsh restrictions and equips students to stand up against injustice.
- Independent thinking helps students go beyond standardised, spoon-fed knowledge. It makes them seek knowledge through their own discoveries and explorations, training them and providing them with the tools to produce knowledge.
Generally, one thing that hampers the development of independent thinking is the worry that too much freedom to young minds to think independently could lead to chaos. The urge to have greater control over young minds forces the administrations to discourage independent thinking.
This attitude fosters intellectual dependence, as in this system the students are constantly fed with the existing ideas, theories and perspectives, allowing them little time and space to think on their own and produce their own ideas.
This attitude is a symbol of diffidence rather than confidence on the ability of our youth.
Change is inevitable and only young minds trained to think independently and with a certain degree of intellectual freedom can usher in a new era of thoughtful, meaningful development.
Independent thinking is the power that will usher us into a brave new world with a more holistic approach to life, where we will face our realities head on rather than sidetracking them or dealing with them superficially.
It is a power that will wean us off continued intellectual enslavement and help us think for ourselves, compelling us to find tools to solve our problems locally. It will make us more relevant to the world in the light of our rooted reality.