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Educational Paradigm of Pakistan

Islamabad DURING my visits to US college campuses, I make it a priority to seek out students from Pakistan to discuss how they are faring academically and otherwise. I also try getting feedback about these students from their international student advisers. Mostly there is nothing but praise, a fact which makes me proud. In most cases, Pakistani students are known to be friendly, generous, and extremely hard working.

‘He is almost perfect,’ remarked an advisor at a university in Indiana about a Pakistani student. Impressive though it sounded, the remark made me think. How can we improve upon on our education system to create even better students? An interesting article in Newsweek, ‘The Creativity Crises’ by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, explores the issue of fostering creativity in the education system. According to the authors, “To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining these ideas into the best result.)” However, rigid curriculums and rote learning do not allow room for exploration and creativity.

Recognising the need to redefine the education paradigm and bring divergent thinking into the fold of formal academic practice, educators in the United States are focusing on promoting this concept. An initiative, aptly titled “Odyssey of the Mind (OM),” was implemented 25 years ago at a number of schools. The Psychology CareerCentre defines OM as “the type of programme that supports divergent thinking, thinking that generates multiple, ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions to problems. Instead of one right answer for every problem, divergent thinking creates multiple solutions.”

Primary schools in the United States are not the only platform where the divergent thinking approach is supported and implemented. A growing number of colleges and universities recognise the importance of this practice. This impressive list of colleges includes institutions like Johns Hopkins, Stanford University, Indiana University, andColumbia College to name but a few. Columbia College courses in divergent learning include classes such as “Characteristics of the Divergent Learner,” “Education in Modern Society,” and “Learning Processes and Styles.”

Divergent thinking programmes and their implementation can greatly encourage creativity and success in the education system of Pakistan. We can all contribute to this initiative by providing an enriching and exciting environment for our younger students. A young mother recently expressed her concern to me about her 6 year-old who was ‘thinking odd’. The child wanted a potter’s wheel and when asked why, he said he wanted to “feel things grow in his hands and to know what makes them grow!” This need to explore is what inspires creativity and it must be encouraged; this child and others like him could be our future Nobel Prize winners.Daily Times.

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