Help Wanted: Critical Thinkers

Is it just me, or is there a deficit of critical thinkers in the world today?

I’m pretty sure it’s not me. While many world leaders seemed fixated on budget deficits, I am much more worried about the lack of critical thinkers being produced these days. Perhaps it’s because I work in social media or maybe because it really irks me when people say and do stupid things, that I've become so sensitive to this issue.

And honestly … does anyone really care? Well, I do. I look around me and see a new generation, in all walks of life, who simply ‘can’t reason their way out of a paper bag’ much less solve problems that take skills beyond the fifth grade. I observe comments on Facebook between ‘20-somethings’ and say to myself, “We’re screwed!”

If you’re the parent of a gifted child, you may assume that you are immune to this scenario; but you’re not. This may be one of the most important reasons why parents need to advocate for gifted education in their child’s school. Gifted children need to be taught these thinking skills as much as the next kid; just at a higher level. Trust me.

Think I’m off-base? Take a look around you. Listen in on a conversation of young adults at a coffee shop discussing politics. When you hear the words “they’re all crooks” or “what difference can I make?” … worry. Walk into most college classrooms and ask the students about their expectations for dealing with the Earth’s water crisis or the effect of long-term degradation of a country’s infrastructure. You’ll probably be met with blank stares.

There are a lot of problems in the world today that need new ideas. And the problems are not getting any easier. We need a new generation of critical thinkers and your children are among those best equipped to solve these problems.

Is it every gifted child’s obligation to “save the world”? No, it is not. Each one has the right to determine their own future. However, one also needs to ask, “What kind of world do I want to live in; do I want my children to grow up in?”

At a more personal level, our children need to be able to decipher information which affects their own well-being. They need to know right from wrong; moral from immoral; the difference between absolute and degrees. They need to be able to recognize deceit.

There needs to be a new mindset, folks. All minds deserve the chance to grow; to stretch. That doesn't mean they need to reach a certain fixed point such as proficiency. They need to go as far as they can … to reach beyond that which they think they are capable. 

As parents, it is your job to do everything you can to ensure that possibilities exist for your child. Is that a fair statement? Probably not; but if not you … then who? No one, not even the best- intentioned person, will ever care more about your children than you. When they are young, you must advocate for them. As they grow, you become their guidance counselor. And finally when they reach adulthood, you should be their biggest supporter.

Parenting is an awesome responsibility. Take it seriously. Teach your children life skills that will enable them to be critical thinkers and problem-solvers. It takes time and commitment. 18 years seems like an eternity when you’re watching them take their first steps … but it is over in the twinkle of an eye! Remember, you are building a bridge to the future … both theirs and yours.