By Jamiu Aliyu
I have been a student of Critical Thinking and problem solving as well as facilitating this skill for one decade. From my findings, I realised that poverty is associated with inability to understand and practice critical thinking and problem solving skills. I will provide perspective for this claim.
Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released the executive summary of the 2019 Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria that showed that 40.1 percent of Nigeria’s total population was classified as poor. This data implies that 4 out of 10 Nigerians are poor. Nigeria with her extended family nature implies that the remaining 6 out of 10 that were classified as rich are not immune to poverty.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that there will be more poor Nigerians in 2020 if an intervention is not provided as fast as possible. Do not get me wrong. I am not advocating for palliatives. Palliatives are for temporary measures. I am focusing on real-time data driven capacity that will enable independence and economic prosperity at individual level.
The youth unemployment record before the pandemic was 23.1 percent. We are on a time bomb.
What Is The Way Forward? How Can We Get Ourselves Out of Poverty?
Ability to read and write is not enough as fundamental to accessing and documenting data that would be necessary to change our world from being poor to being rich. We would need advance skills.
In his book, Future Shock, Alvin Toffler wrote: The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.
Few years ago, I was to travel and this necessitated me to write my employer for leave of absence. In the letter, I proposed a virtual teaching platform so I can continue my classroom engagement with my students wherever I was. My employer did not see reasons with me and my proposal was disregarded. “We did not employ you for online teaching”, said my employer. Of course, I went and took responsibility for my action. Today’s reality has forced the whole world to virtual classrooms.
It will not matter what you learn in the University, the real education of today is a collection of validated data.
To get out of poverty, we will all need Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills.
Any thinking process that is driven by our own intuition (self-directed thinking), such that we believe in ourselves to execute such thoughts, research in a way that it leads to innovative ideas and solutions can be considered Critical Thinking.
According to Cognitive scientist, Daniel Willingham, he provides context for Critical thinking as:
• What people need when they play chess, plan strategy for a field hockey game, or design a product.
• The ability to think critically is viewed as a cornerstone of individual civic engagement and economic success.
Following Willingham’s second contextual definition, economic prosperity is not without Critical Thinking. Now that we have an idea of what critical thinking is, let us consider how critical thinking has brought prosperity to individuals.
Data is King
In 1994, Jeff Bezos worked at hedge fund D. E. Shaw as employee, tasked with researching potential business opportunities involving the then brand-new internet landscape. Bezos found a staggering statistics that sparked an idea to start his own business.
“I found this fact on a website that the web was growing at 2,300 percent per year,” Bezos told CNBC in a 2001 interview. The idea that sort of entranced me was this idea of building a bookstore online.
This data (the web was growing at 2,300 percent per year) was available to all internet users as at 1994. However, Bezos was inspired by the data and created fortune with it. Amazon is hiring 100,000 workers while other corporations are laying off staff due to disruptions by COVID-19 pandemic. According to 2020 Forbes report, Jeff Bezos is the world richest man in the world.
Where is the money?
The money is in the real-time data or information that is being uploaded by researchers on the internet on a daily basis. If we are able to look for credibility of a data, clear our biases and make effective decisions, we are demonstrating critical thinking and problem solving skill.
Prior to COVID-19 pandemic in December 2019, a research study estimated that the online education market would hit $350 billion by 2025. What does this tell us about the future of learning? There is no doubt that education market is now digital.
Dell Technologies and Institute for the Future report revealed that 85 percent of the jobs in 2030 do not exist yet. By implications, all young people in secondary schools today are being educated for jobs that will not exist when they become graduates.
In summary, I advocate for radical learning of critical thinking and problem solving skills. It is not business as usual.
I am a seasoned mentor and founder of Self-Actualization Academy. There are tools to generate real-time data for your economic success. What you do not know, you do not know. Good mentors are enablers. Seek them.
If you have decided to be mentored, write an expression of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Jamiu T. Aliyu is the Founder, Self-Actualisation Academy