According to an article published in Business.com one of the biggest challenges organisations face over the next 10 years is a lack of people with critical thinking skills. This comes at a time when the US Department of Labor recently identified critical thinking as a “raw material” for vital workplace skills, including problem-solving and decision-making.
A 2016 Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) highlights that “innovation skills” must be developed to succeed at work in the future. Since 2015, the WEF has ranked complex problem-solving as the number one skill required followed by coordinating with others and people management. But by 2020 the ability to think critically and be creative will be of paramount importance.
The good news is that innovation skills can be learned and developed over time. Experts believe K-12 schools are the best place to begin to teach students the skills of richer reasoning and complex problem-solving.
As of now, only five per cent of K-12 schools in the U.S. teach critical thinking and complex problem-solving said Helen Lee Bouygues from the Reboot Foundation, an organisation aimed at promoting richer, more reflective forms of thought in schools, homes and businesses. In an opinion piece published on the Forbes website in November 2018, she said the main issue was that teachers struggle with how to teach these soft skills.
“Too many institutions don’t teach students how and when to use evidence. Too many schools don’t help students learn to take opposing points of view or think through issues that don’t have clear right or wrong,” she said.
However, the tide is turning. At Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong, students learn across different subjects and are asked to consider a wide range of perspectives when asked to solve a problem. NAIS HK students Lea St-Georges and Radha Peratides said they enjoy taking part in such activities and like to debate and collaborate with their peers on problems they don’t know how to solve.
“It’s part of the creative process. And I expect there to be more than one answer to a problem,” Lea, a Year 9 student, said.
“We all have different answers because we have different ideas. We can use those ideas to improve our own.”
Radha, who is in Year 6, said debating and collaborating with classmates on problems often results in an “amazing” answer.
Engaging in complex problem-solving that requires critical thinking and creativity are a core part of the school’s STEAM curriculum. Students leverage knowledge from several different subject areas and apply it to invent solutions to any given question or problem.
The school, which is part of the Nord Anglia Education (NAE) group, also get to explore STEAM learning through a leading-edge, university-inspired model designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).