Maternal teaching strategies as predictors of young children’s critical thinking

Year: 2001

Author: Chandra, Julia

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

When a child is taught to think critically, support from the family has to be taken into account. Unfortunately, in some cultures, including Indonesian, a child expressing his or her own ideas is regarded as peculiar. A child is supposed to listen to the parent, not vice versa. Whether or not a mother is able to change her approach in nurturing her child so that the child can become more critical is examined in this study. A group of Indonesian mothers was trained to interact reciprocally with their children. The training lasted for seven months during which four training sessions of 2 and a half hours took place every 5-7 weeks. Besides training, mothers were also given a chance to review the interactions with their child. The mother’s teaching strategies and the child’s performance on critical thinking tasks were taken initially as a baseline and were monitored after every training session. The result was then compared with those from another group of mothers and their children who did not receive such intervention. The mother’s teaching strategies and the child’s critical thinking ability were assessed in natural settings independently from each other, following the assumption that one aspect of being critical is able to think spontaneously and independently from authoritative figures. Altogether 14 categories of maternal teaching strategies were used in the mother-child interaction analyses, while critical thinking in children was assessed according to cognitive and affective components.

The results to be reported here are taken from the first phase of the larger, longitudinal study and constituted a baseline of both maternal teaching strategies and the child’s performance on critical thinking tasks especially designed for this study. Results showed that children with better performance in critical thinking tasks have mothers who emphasized informing and reasoning besides enjoyed interacting with children rather than pressuring or commanding. The implications of these findings for promoting young children’s critical thinking are discussed.