Decamping the hierarchical ramifications that exist in school systems has been central to the Writing Center, which facilitates a safe space for students to work on their writing, irrespective of their command over the language or their confidence regarding it. With peer-led tutoring sessions and organized events centered around academic and creative writing, the team aims to help students become better writers and thinkers.
Regardless of the roles, teachers have had to change their working practices to ensure that they serve their purpose, even if it means adopting a rather unconventional measure. The students are always at the heart of what teachers do, perhaps the teachers might not influence their grades or practices but they still want good outcomes for their students nonetheless.
Students can only pull from the information that has been presented to them. Many times, they are just emulating the beliefs and thoughts that have been endowed upon them. This is a saddening knowledge, to begin with, and even more so, because it’s rather unsurprising. Perhaps in our school system when the only thing that matters is the measurable outcome, critical thinking is not encouraged, nor rewarded. The most rewarding experiences within the four walls of a classroom, between those who play the roles of an educator and a pupil, are kindled when critical thinking is employed and some insight is gained; when any thought isn’t a fleeting moment but the weight you carry. But critical thinking is based on a strong foundation of general knowledge and is generally a long, slow grind to make critical thinkers. There is the reality of time, unlearning and even abandoning obsolete routines, embracing the change.
The fact that not all individuals will become critical thinkers at the same time rings true, especially in large classrooms that do not usually account for the student’s background. Understanding where the students come from, acknowledging how their backgrounds dictate their daily interactions and approach to learning, is of the essence. Treating young individuals with innate value and perceiving their responses through an empathetic lens; taking a step back and considering why they are doing what they are doing from the vantage point of what they have endured is important as an educator. Perceived teacher empathy and a lack thereof accounts for much of the student’s response and their indifference to the system and conditioned response, a mere product of it.
These revelations pose a bigger question: If students are indifferent to the system, where exactly does it put the educator? Are they not on the same boat together? It also presents the oscillation between the visions of doom and the visions of progress. But as easy as it may seem to denounce the legroom for change, many puzzling questions remain unanswered; What is the best approach to foster critical thinking skills in school? Just what should be changed?
“How are you to imagine anything if the images are always provided for you?” -Detachment (2011)
– By Yosha Limbu
(The writer is currently an undergraduate student at Thames International College pursuing her Bachelors of Psychology)