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You don’t need to think - we know what you need to know.

You don’t need to think - we know what you need to know.

We are all familiar with the quote: “history is written by the victors”. Well, the South Korean Government has taken this one step further, by banning any history textbook that hasn’t been approved by the state (yes, it is the South part of Korea we are talking about). This blog post questions if education should really be decided by people who have little experience and insight into the full breadth and potential of schools and offers some insights on how to encourage creativity and deeper thinking in schools.

This week the South Korean government announced that by 2017 all secondary schools must only use history textbooks issued by the state.

At present South Korean secondary schools can choose from textbooks published by eight different publishing companies. The government argues these are too left-leaning, supportive of North Korea and encourage anti-Americanism.  Some politicians and academics have protested against the move, believing that it infringes on the independence and political neutrality of education guaranteed by the state constitution.

On the face of it we have democratic education system in this country, however, I couldn't  help drawing comparisons when I read about South Korea. 

The UK education system is politicised too. Judgments are made about what should be taught and how it should be taught by politicians who can sometimes use the school system as a vote-winning political football. Should education really be decided by people who have little experience and insight into the full breadth and potential of schools?  
The ability to think for yourself should come naturally shouldn't it? Surely we don't need to be given such skills.  However with pressures the education system as they are, exam results take priority and so we are teaching children to remember numbers and information, rather than think.  Memory is great, but what's even greater is the ability to look at a situation, assess it and react to it dependent on the knowledge base you have.  Or as I heard recently, “Intelligence is the capacity in any given the situation or circumstance you find yourself in to come up with a solution.” 
At Laughology we often receive requests from organisations to help academically gifted graduates develop critical and creative thinking. These are super-intelligent young people and I don't want to take anything away from that, however are they entrepreneurial? Do they have the ability to adapt and solve problems? Often they don't. While its certainly not the young person's fault it is an issue that political strategists need to address. They need to think differently about education.  
At Laughology we deliver P4C (philosophy for kids) in primary and secondary schools.  It's a brilliant tool  to get young people thinking on a higher level - not just accepting information because it has been told to them.  We need to be able to think deeper and see beyond what we believe possible.  Developing such skills develops communities, organisations and cultures.  It has been shown that establishing P4C in schools:

  • Enhances cognitive and critical thinking.
  • Increase creative thinking and counter arguments.
  • Promotes positive behaviour.
  • Improves language and communication.
  • Develops awareness.
  • Proven to increase results and innovation. 

These skills are transferable in business and all organisations should encourage an enquiring culture to enhance thinking and help challenge biases that can block innovation.

Just the other day in a group coaching session with a highly intelligent team, I was challenged to break limiting belief systems. Using a P4C style question enhanced thinking in the group and we broke down some blocking beliefs simply by challenging thinking.

If we don't challenge the status quo and blindly accept information we'll become stuck in all walks of life; as individuals, in organisations, in education, in communities and in cultures that don't develop.  Expanding knowledge and being open to new ideas and challenging concepts at any age is healthy.  Encourage this in your schools and workplaces and watch innovation and creativity flourish.  

To encourage creativity and innovation in your school or organisation we can help you.  Here’s some top tips on what to look out for and encourage:

  • Recognise bias thinking
  • Create opportunities to think differently, encourage meeting with a difference
  • Question rules – why are they there?
  • Pace decision making
  • FLIP it (Laughology’s thinking toolkit for creating a different perspective)
  • Seek alternative views
  • Adopt 360 mentoring or peer learning
  • Recognise feelings and thoughts and how they impact on decisions and behaviours
  • Create an enquiring culture

Some other opinions, viewpoints and content you may find interesting.

‘Philosophy for children’ isn’t real philosophy (spiked-online.com)
Clever girls, stupid boys? (bbcnews.co.uk)


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