“To think or not to think, that is a question!”

By Yelizaveta Zaritskaya. Yelizaveta, 18, lives in Kostanay, Kazakhstan. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

A dark-haired girl enthusiastically watched as the teacher handed out notebooks to her classmates. She has already noticed her notebook – it was lying in a heap next to the last one, and now the girl was eagerly fidgeting in her chair, waiting for her turn.

They had written an essay at the last lesson of literature. I must say that this girl was very inquisitive, and she also liked to read. Therefore, she took up this work with great delight. And how proud she was of her essay! Everything that was written there, she came up with herself.

She was imagining how her beloved teacher would praise her saying “Good job!” – as she had just told to almost all of her friends.

But suddenly something unthinkable happened! The teacher frowned. Frowned, looking at her notebook.

“What’s wrong? May be it’s commas, I sometimes put them wrong,” – the girl decided.

But it turned out that this was not the case at all.

The teacher silently gave her a notebook and pointed to the fat red inscription «rating unsatisfactory». And then adjusting the glasses she said: “Your thoughts were wrong. You did not understand the essence of the story at all. Did you read the paragraph in the textbook? It’s printed there, HOW you should think.”

Well, maybe she did not say exactly these words. But I still remember my disappointment and bewilderment. I was asking myself – “What has just happened? She told us to write it in the way as you understand the story. Why did I understand this story improperly? “.

But later I found out that my other classmates simply wrote off what was written in the textbook. They wrote those thoughts that the author of the textbook wrote before them, and got excellent marks for it.

So at 11 years old I realized for the first time that to have my own opinion is not always good. You better not stand out and come up with something new.

Unfortunately, I know by myself, school does not always appreciate creativity. Why do teachers prefer that all children think in the same way? “Do not stand out! Be like everyone else,” – they almost say to you.

I myself have found several ways to deal with this. And even now (studying in college) I use them.

I understand that it’s better to be “like everyone else” with some teachers, and many of them do not like “wisenheimers”. One of my teachers said directly to us: “Do not ask me questions!” Because when we ask about something, it seems to her that we are starting to argue with her (Even if this is not the case at all). So in her lessons, students sit quietly writing lectures without any attempt to reflect. And the other teacher constantly repeats: “Admit that you can not do this. That’s the worst of all, when you deceive yourself.” And she literally repeats it several times a lesson! Therefore, I simply fulfill her request, and when I intend to tell something in class, I immediately admit something in some way. For example, that I very badly pronounce some words and ask her to correct me, or suddenly I say that I’m afraid to speak in front of an audience, or that my memory is not so good.

Sorry, I got carried away and off topic.

I remember how at school I was told that it’s very important to find answers by yourself. But the teachers said one thing, and then something very different happened at the lessons.

The situation is somewhat dubious, don’t you think so?

On the one hand, we are constantly told “It is very important to have your own opinion,” and on the other, all our attempts to express it will be knocked down. I think that the problem is in the way the education system is structured. We are not taught critical thinking. We just swallow the true truths (although who said that they are really true?), and do not come to them through our own reflections. Do teachers teach us to reflect? To ask questions? To find the answers to them? Unfortunately, they don’t. Sometimes it seems to me that of the little men who first came to school, they immediately begin to sculpt absolutely identical robots incapable of thinking.

What is written in the textbook, we accept for our own opinion. Perhaps you want to correct me: “Facts are facts; opinions are opinions. Do not confuse two concepts”. But I’m not talking about physical formulas and axioms in mathematics. Imposing someone’s opinion (and after all, we really do not always know to whom it belongs – the author of the textbook, the teacher, to whom else?) for example, occurs during the lessons of literature and history. But personally I think at these lessons we can be discussing various topics. First, each of us understands literary works in his own way. Secondly, historical events can also be viewed from different angles (and for different countries they can have quite the opposite meaning).

And very much depends on teachers. Not all of them are like the ones I told you about above. There are very different – creative, interesting people who adore their profession. When you have such a teacher, you just want to learn. I personally just adore lessons in the form of debate or some reasoning when teachers make us THINK. At such times, it seems to me that I hear the rusting gears creaking in our brains. After all, we have already lost the habit to do it. The habit of thinking.
And I would very much like to see that there are more Teachers (yes, with a capital letter). The Teachers that can tech you to think.

The problem is that nowadays it’s easier to follow the crowd than to try to form your own opinion and have the courage to say it.

In particular, it is difficult after we were programmed from the childhood to the very opposite.

And after we are taught from the school to think like others, we can not distinguish our opinion from the opinions of others.

It should not be so.

Let’s think!

Let’s stand out!

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