Chat with my parents about critical thinking and the goal of education
On March 13th, I interviewed my parents for about one hour in Chinese (they only speak Chinese). Like the chat with my boyfriend, we shared our opinions based on several questions I came up with.
-What are your educational experiences/backgrounds?
-What is critical thinking (How do you understand critical thinking)? How do you understand it and use it in your daily life? Please share an example.
-Introduction of banking education and problem-posing education by Freire (me). What is your experience? How do you think your experience affects your understanding of critical thinking and your perspectives?
-Do you think it is essential to think about the goal of education? What is your goal of education? Does everyone have the same goal? Do you think you are privileged in education?
-How do you enjoy today’s chat?
For the first question, my parents’ educational experiences were related to Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976 in China. During the Cultural Revolution, the way to get into college was a recommendation by “someone” and had at least two years of experience being a laborer, a peasant, or a soldier. My mom’s father knew “someone” who could recommend my mom to college, so she needed to work as a laborer for two years to get into the college. However, when it turned to 1977, the policy was changed, and the National College Entrance Examination was recovered. My mom did not finish the two-year work experience. She lost the chance to be recommended. With the limited time to prepare for the exam, my mother did not get into college. However, my father was the first-round college student after Cultural Revolution, and he was a work-hard student. He studied forestry in college, and then he worked as a teacher for Grade 1-3 for three years. My mom started to work as a saleswoman in 1981.
For the second question, my father heard the word “critical thinking (in Chines-批判性思维)” in 1982, when he worked as a teacher. He thought critical thinking was disproving the wrong part and accepting the right part when there was a thing. He also believed that he needed to understand anything comprehensively and holistically. There was a lot of teacher training and professional development for them, and he developed his understanding of critical thinking through the training and development. The essential idea of thinking affected his future work experience as well. He shared the experience of how he rejected a task assigned by his boss and came up with a new solution. When he shared his experience, my mom said, “I do not fully understand critical thinking, but if I were you, I would take the task assigned by my boss without further hesitance. If there is a problem, I will solve it when it comes.”
For the third question, my dad shared how frequently he critiqued teachers’ ideas in elementary and high school. Even though he was punished by teachers because of his behaviors, because his teachers did not like to be challenged in front of students, he has never stopped critiquing them. He told me that he learned it from his father, a former teacher. Like my boyfriend, he also affirmed the use of banking education in facts and fundamental knowledge learning. He asked how students could provide new ideas that teachers could learn (problem-posing education) without this basic knowledge? My mom argued that not every student had the courage to challenge teachers and critique everything.
For the fourth question, we mainly focused on the goal of education. My parents all believed that education was for a better job. However, my father also mentioned that education could improve self and satisfy self (self-flourishing). Compared to my father, my mother said sometimes she was privileged. Because my grandfather knew “someone,” she sometimes got a better promotion, but she also worked hard as well.
Overall, my parents enjoyed this conversation, and they believed this was an opportunity to learn from each other. They knew more about my school life, and I knew more about their past days. My mother also interpreted how she saw things differently with my father, and they all had their perspectives.