On World Philosophy Day 2014: Encouraging Critical Thinking
Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) once said, “Faced with the complexity of today's world, philosophical reflection is above all a call to humility, to take a step back and engage in reasoned dialogue, to build together the solutions to challenges that are beyond our control. This is the best way to educate enlightened citizens, equipped to fight stupidity and prejudice. The greater the difficulties encountered the greater the need for philosophy to make sense of questions of peace and sustainable development.”
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and language. In a layman's language it can refer to the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group. World Philosophy Day was established by UNESCO in 2005 and observed on November 21 every year, to highlight the importance of philosophy as “a discipline that encourages critical and independent thought… capable of working towards a better understanding of the world and promoting tolerance and peace”.
Ghana is at a very crucial moment in her development. Chieftaincy and land disputes, poverty and youth unemployment have marred the giant efforts we are making towards building a great nation and creating a better life for all. Many might think that only leaders can help us overcome these challenges. This is not so. Followers must not be written off. This calls for critical thinking. The University of Ghana now makes all her students take courses in critical thinking. This is a good effort and must be emulated by other institutions of learning.
Critical thinking enables people to deduce consequences from knowledge to solve problems and enhance work processes. It makes people challenge consensus and pursue less popular approaches to everyday activities. It is an essential part of creativity since we need critical thinking to evaluate and improve our creative ideas. Critical thinking is an important tool in solving community problems and in developing initiatives in national development.
It is because of these and many other benefits that we must encourage critical thinking. The youth especially, must be encouraged in this respect. Community interventions of all kinds provide opportunities for learning. They provide opportunities for experiencing difficulties that need adequate solutions. Young people must get immersed it these interventions. Parents and teachers must keep affirming children's self-worth, help them create networks of support, give them tasks and regularly evaluate their progress on these tasks. Schools should encourage the formation of thinking clubs like the ones in developed countries. The Ghana Education Service should make critical thinking a core component of basic and secondary education. Religious organizations should create avenues for their young people to develop critical thinking abilities. The National Youth Authority should create community youth think-tanks.
All these efforts will help young people create jobs for themselves, value and promote peace, develop pragmatic solutions to everyday challenges, use reasoned dialogue to prevent all forms of conflict and fight stupidity and prejudice. These will ensure sustainable development in Ghana to end poverty, youth unemployment and conflicts.
Indeed, in the words of the author Josh Lanyon, “If there was one life skill everyone on the planet needed, it was the ability to think with critical objectivity” Happy World Philosophy Day to all Ghanaians.
Gabriel Edzordzi Agbozo is the Director of International Affairs at Beyonders Foundation.
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."