Embrace independent thinking this school year

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a Psychology Advisor. Picture: Supplied

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a Psychology Advisor. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 21, 2024



The start of a new school year signifies new beginnings. A time for pupils to explore the idea of independent thinking. Everything begins with the decision to improve how you think.

The current conversations are rightly focused on developing knowledge, reading and understanding comprehension, maths literacy and other related topics. Despite this focus on achievement, a critical question arises, what measures are being taken to ensure that pupils are capable of thinking for themselves once they graduate from school?

We all begin a new year with a certain amount of anxiety. In the backdrop of our chaotic and unpredictable world, these fears are only going to intensify. Our curiosity leads us to question everything we learn in school.

Embracing curious thinking will help answer the many questions that arise when starting something new such as what planning is needed to cope with deadlines, to prepare for tests and exams, to score high marks and to understand difficult concepts. What skills are unique about me? What are my strengths/ weaknesses? How will I handle unexpected challenges?

Being fearful, anxious or afraid are natural emotions. Through consistent questioning, we can grasp the content of different syllabuses and easily adjust our thinking to grasp complicated concepts. We gain a deeper understanding of why we select specific subjects and where they could potentially lead us on our path to success.

Without realising it, we develop into an independent thinker, which is a valuable attribute when striving for excellence in all areas of our lives. For some, self-sabotage creeps in and results in a delay in their ability to think.

Independent thinking is the act of questioning information, ideas and everything in this world. Filtering out manipulations and data that are not in line with our knowledge is within our ability. As we acquire the ability to think independently, we start to formulate our own analysis. We determine what is significant or not. By doing so, we arrive at logical conclusions based on our knowledge.

These insightful questions give us the ability to establish relationships with teachers, encourage a growth mindset and assist in our social and emotional development. We are better prepared to set learning goals that best suit our lifestyles.

We understand the significant reason behind why we need to educate ourselves. Being more self-aware of our abilities enables us to easily discover our passion. Living in today’s digital age gives pupils an opportunity to ask and answer their own questions.

Pupils can use this space to conduct research, debate and form their own opinions on a topic. This approach invites students to connect what they have learned with how it might be relevant to their own lives. With determined efforts, consistent independent thinking practices build a greater sense of security and shape students into individuals with strong ethical thinking, reasoning and discipline.

Children spend adequate hours at school engaged in active listening, and digesting too much information in a day seems challenging for some students. Written instructions may be difficult for some learners to understand and follow.

Educators should be more visually engaging when instructing their students. Educational psychology can influence classroom management approaches, lesson development, learning programs and curriculum. The use of educational psychology concepts can aid educators in understanding and addressing fast-changing technologies designed to aid students with learning.

The learning curriculum should aim to create the conditions for learners to develop their independence and curiosity to enhance all aspects of learning. When we develop this capacity, students can apply this skill as they read, write and synthesise.

The presence of a trusted guide, mentor and support from parents or guardians is likely to increase pupils’ motivation and reduce pressure to excel in school. Effective communication and inspiration can make the difference between success and failure. Children can reduce anxiety by opening up to their inner fears.

School bullying, harassment and abuse are a serious obstacle to child development that negatively affects their mental and physical health. Bullying can take many different forms - verbal, relational, cyberbullying, sexual and prejudicial. Parents must commit to creating a secure environment for their children to thrive in both social and academic fields without fear.

We often think that our decisions are solely based on logic and rationality, but our emotions have a crucial role to play in our good decision-making process. Appreciate your child’s determination during their early years and know that the independent thinking you are nurturing will serve them well in the critical years to come.

However, independent thinking might be guiding your child to be diligent and self-reliant at an early age. As they move beyond academic learning they tap into their uniqueness and built-in intelligence only to uncover, ‘education is not preparation for life, education is life itself’.

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a Psychology Advisor.

Daily News

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educationMental Health