Thinking critically about our future

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Marj Moore

It’s often pointed out that as a people, we are seen to be largely interested in the short term benefits, the quick fix, the immediate solutions when making decisions.

We don’t look too far ahead, provide sensible contingency plans for the unexpected or the unknown.

We’ll cope. 

If it happens, it happens. 

We prefer not to spend too much time pondering over the “if we do that now, what might happen next?” scenarios. Or, “who and what else will be affected by this decision?”; or, “will this cost much more in the years to come?”; or, “ is this a fair decision for all?”; or the biggie, “can we actually afford to do this now?”  

It’s not that we don’t spend a lot of time talking and discussing; we do.

We have enough meetings, workshops and training sessions which should make us the problem solvers of the world. It’s just that often the level of discussion is not as focused as it could or should be.

We often meander off the point onto other parallel topics or issues and without a strong chairperson or leader the whole focus is lost. There is also an accepted repetitiveness in discussions where people say the same thing in just slightly different ways – taking up and wasting time.

On the other hand, a person, particularly if they are seen to be a junior, may be hesitant to contribute an opposing point because of the entrenched views of seniority.    

Sadly, as we look around at buildings, the delivery of basic services and the lack of general planning, it seems that many decisions made at Government level have been reached without any kind of critical thinking being employed.

There appears to be an almost carefree lack of checks and balances one would expect to be in place where large amounts of other people’s money is about to be used. And coupled with that, is a total lack of shame when these decisions are made public with an expectation that no accountability is required.

Last year, the Ministry of Education introduced into school curriculums, critical thinking. And while it would be optimistic to expect huge changes just yet, it is a he step in the right direction for our future leaders beginning at primary school level.

It is vital that our students learn to think critically, question and analyse to be able to make the best decisions possible and to make progress personally and professionally.

For too many years our students at all levels have been criticized for asking questions and presenting different points of view to their elders or those in positions of power. 

Then on reaching tertiary levels where they are expected to speak and think for themselves, they have little confidence and have developed habits of repeating back everything they have been spoon fed.

And we wonder why?

With the General Elections just over a month away when we put our futures for way beyond the next five years into the hands of our elected representatives, it’s a time to think hard about the choices we are going to make. 

And while some of our present elected representatives and those aspiring to join them, clearly lack the skills of critical thinking, there are enough overall to give hope that better decision making can prevail if we choose wisely.   

© Samoa Observer 2016

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