In addition to foundational skills like literacy and numeracy, they need competencies like collaboration, creativity and problem-solving, and character qualities like persistence, curiosity and initiative. Changes in the labour market have heightened the need for all individuals, and not just a few, to have these skills. In countries around the world, economies run on creativity, innovation and collaboration. Skilled jobs are more and more centred on solving unstructured problems and effectively analysing information. In addition, technology is increasingly substituting for manual labour and being infused into most aspects of life and work. Over the past 50 years, the US economy, as just one of many developed-world examples, has witnessed a steady decline in jobs that involve routine manual and cognitive skills, while experiencing a corresponding increase in jobs that require non-routine analytical and interpersonal skills see Exhibit 1.
The importance of critical thinking
LESSON 1: “Critical Thinking” – TRENDS, NETWORKS, CRITICAL TINKING, IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Academia, business and policy makers all concur on its importance. In the context of the UAE and the national agenda, it gains even more importance as ensuring students are equipped with critical thinking skills is primordial to achieving a competitive knowledge based economy. Critical thinking has been identified as a key skill to foster innovation. Research shows that critical thinking and creativity are correlated. It is a required building block for a STEM education. Subjects in the STEM curriculum teach students how to think critically and how to solve problems — skills that can be used throughout life to help them get through tough times and take advantage of opportunities whenever they appear.
LESSON 1: “Critical Thinking”
Why is critical thinking important? The decisions that you make affect your quality of life. That can be done with a simple thing known as critical thinking. For the most part, however, we think of critical thinking as the process of analyzing facts in order to form a judgment. The first time critical thinking was documented is believed to be in the teachings of Socrates, recorded by Plato.
The 4 Cs capture the skills students should hone during their formal education to complement and drive knowledge acquisition and content mastery. Yet, there is an additional C that may be just as fundamental for learning and innovation: curiosity and question formulation. Asking questions is not simply a means to gather information. Rather, by asking questions, students can identify their own knowledge gaps and think critically about what they are learning, assess information from individuals and other sources of information, think creatively and divergently, and work constructively with others.