By MALCOLM STRACHAN
At a time when the country is filled with challenges, the Bahamian people, while not having a shortage of problems, can’t say the same for solutions.
Countries all over the world are experiencing problems. From the climate crisis to world hunger and poverty and everything in between, organisations around the world, particularly in the field of technology, are seeking the wisdom of those able to provide solutions. As we all know, every solution starts with a question or series of questions – all powered by the ability to think critically. Our limitation in this thinking, as a nation, has been our Achilles heel.
With so many annoyances within Bahamian society, many of us wonder why processes that don’t have be difficult are the way they are. We question why individuals in front-facing positions at service providers seemingly have a talent for making simple processes more difficult than they have to be.
The ease of doing business is not easy at all. Utilities don’t work well. Citizens don’t feel safe. Illegal immigration continues to be a problem. The middle class is evaporating right before our eyes and home ownership for many people is fleeting.
The list goes on.
Our grievance over a lack of critical thinking is nowhere more glaring than in politics. For decades, Bahamians have pinballed back and forth between the Progressive Liberal Party and the Free National Movement.
Stagnated by cultish party loyalties and uninformed voters, political parties have a very low bar to win an election – only having to worry about being better than the next guy.
Thus, our political climate is one where politicians come around every five years claiming to have all the solutions – or at least more than those they oppose – but when they are given the opportunity, our complaints just shift from one group to the next.
It’s a tragic reality for any country. However, what must be assessed is how we evolve as a nation going forward.
The correlation between democracy and education has been studied extensively by researchers and it has been determined that individuals with lower education are different political actors than those with higher levels of education. Additionally, one’s economic status can be a predictor of one’s education level.
Accordingly, it should be a priority to place a higher value on education – not just by increasing graduation rates, but also affecting the type of thinkers being produced in our classrooms.
While we take into account that introducing another school of thought to people who have attached their national identity to their political party may lead to resistance, we can’t dismiss the benefits of a more active and engaged democratic process. Additionally, looking long-term at the potential advantages for first-time voters and the younger generations, they can also benefit greatly by being introduced to a different form of learning.
All told, we should be mindful that a society that thinks critically benefits far beyond politics. As this hopefully becomes a matter for public discourse, we would not want the policy makers to narrowly focus solely on the political implications.
Countries that have pursued education reform by making inquiry-based learning the cornerstone of their curriculums have raved about the benefits it has had on their students. Inquiry-based learning is defined as “a learning and teaching method that prioritises student questions, ideas and analyses” to encourage students to use evidence-supported reasoning to solve a problem.
The Bahamas is at a pivotal point in its history with frustrated citizens leading to massive migration outflows and an increase in the nation’s brain drain. As this becomes more common, we have to really start asking ourselves how this nation is going to further its development without the human capital necessary to lead the charge.
As our political leaders thrive in an environment where citizens largely accept or refute policies based on their support of a particular political party, neither the directorate nor the electorate, for the most part, are focused on the future of the country.
Needless to say, this model only leads to failure.
Our citizens have to be trained to place the right people in leadership to govern. This will only come about by looking at the problems of the day and discerning who is most capable of solving them. Moreover, a government presiding over a people informed on the country’s problems increases accountability in government, and thus, raises the standard of governance.
With no shortage of complaints among the populace, don’t you think it’s time we educated ourselves and our children on how to solve problems?
Countries that have emphasised the importance of critical thinking in their children from an early age have proven to perform well in solving their problems. And as we continue to flail in a flood of our societal ills, ranging from crime to pollution, high cost of living to high unemployment, climate change to illegal immigration – and the list goes on – the revolving door of archaic political ideologies and empty promises will guarantee we are on a collision course for failure.
The choice is clear.