Encouraging Courageous Thinking in the Classroom

You might have read that title and be scratching your head a bit. What’s a “courageous thinker?” I’m glad you asked. You may know some courageous thinkers. People like Elon Musk, the founder and brainchild behind Tesla, and Tom Chi, Google’s former head of experience. These people are courageous thinkers because they have taken on the massive task of thinking outside the box to make the world better.

Courageous thinkers take the world’s problems and come up with ways to solve them. This is a pretty cool way of thinking, but what if we could instill this mentality into all of our students. There is a quite simple answer – we can.

Collaboration and Debate

We need to encourage our students to both collaborate with each other AND debate each other. We need to do it early and often. These two areas specifically breed courageous thinkers for a few reasons. Collaboration takes a lot of teamwork and a heck of a lot of compromise. In order to become a courageous thinker, we need our students to work together in environments that aren’t always so cut and dry. Additionally, the more brain power working on one assignment, the more can be done!

Debate has a similar effect, but for different reasons. Learning to debate on tough issues effectively and resourcefully takes a lot of courage and quick thinking. It’s easy to give up or insult someone when they do not agree with you, but it takes a certain kind of person to debate with dignity and poise. This kind of mindset helps mold courageous thinkers of tomorrow.

Appropriate Tests and Tasks

We need to be giving our students appropriate tests and tasks for their learning style and level, but we can’t stop there. To cultivate courageous thinkers, we need to have the scaffolding in place to scale students up and push their potential to the limits. The more we are able to do so, the more they will go on to crave this type of achievement later in life.

Consistent Feedback

We need to adopt school wide feedback that is consistent throughout their time with us. This is important for their growth and their own reflection. If we are not consistent, our students can become confused and not know what they need to improve upon or even what they are being compared to. In order to encourage courageous thinking, we need to set the groundwork for consistent and constant feedback. This feedback allows for self reflection and will follow these students for the rest of their life. If we can give them the tools to self asses and improve, they will push themselves for the rest of their lives.