TEDxTokyo TeachersでのWonderful☆Kidsに関するプレゼン（ “It’s Thinking Time”）には、たくさんの反響をいただきました。
さて、多くの方から「TEDxTokyo Teachersでの（狩野の）プレゼンを英語学習に役立てたい」とのお声をいただきましたので、以下に、プレゼンの全文（英文）を載せました。何かのお役に立てれば嬉しいです（カッコ内にある slide #1 などの表記は、プレゼン中に使用したスライドの順番を示しています）：
When my daughter was 5, she took a trial class at a cram school in Tokyo. There she was given this problem to solve (slide #1): What’s the difference between the two? My daughter’s answer was, “The one on the left is more like a square, and the one on the right is more round.”
“Incorrect,” the teacher said. Later I was told the “correct” answer had to refer to the difference in the function and material of the objects, but not their shape.
Why? I asked. The teacher didn’t have an answer.
I came across many similar instances, not only at cram schools in Japan but also at public schools where children accept the “correct” answers without being given much of an opportunity to question. And each time, I thought to myself, maybe something very important is missing in Japanese education.
That something is to teach children to think—or to think critically, to be more precise.
My 20 years of teaching at various Japanese universities tells me that Japanese students excel at doing what they are told to do, but have a much tougher time thinking for themselves simply because they haven’t been trained to do so.
So I launched my project, “Critical Thinking for Kids.” (slide #2) I try to teach young Japanese children—mainly 1st to 3rd graders—to think independently and critically. Because I want them to concentrate on the very act of thinking, there are no desks, no writing. Just a lot of thinking through a lot of talking.
Here (slide #3), I’m trying to get kids to distinguish fact from opinion by the simple use of little flags. I say sentences like, “Mickey Mouse is popular” in Japanese, and if they think it’s a fact, they raise one flag, if it’s an opinion, the other.
This simple exercise can be rather challenging for Japanese children, who are not used to giving their opinions in the classroom. Also in Japanese grammar, the subject is often left out of the equation, tending to blur the line between fact and opinion.
(slide #4) The easiest, most powerful tool to entice critical thinking, I think, is to ask “Why?”. I ask children many open-ended questions so they can come to understand there isn’t always just one answer. And when they give their opinions, I always ask, “Why?” because it helps children realize how they’re arriving at the thought they have.
(slide #5) Another question I often use is, “How did you find out?” which can enhance a child’s logical thought process.
The other day, a 1st-grade girl told me, “Plants contain a lot of water just like we do.” Great discovery! So I asked her how she found out, and she went on to explain how she reached her conclusion through all the facts she had dug up.
Two simple questions—“Why?” and “How did you find out?”—can provoke so much more thought into any classroom experience.
(slide #6) I often have kids put themselves in others’ shoes, because I want them to learn to have more than one perspective. I’ll ask something like: “Imagine you’re a 2nd grader who came to Tokyo a week ago from Sweden because of your father’s job. You’ll be staying for 3 years. What about Tokyo do you find inconvenient?”
To answer this, they’ll have to find out about Sweden and its people, which gets their minds going in a way that can be used to research any topic in the future.
(slide #7) Another question I’ve thrown at my students is, “How do you think the pyramids were built?” One 7-year-old boy said people carrying bricks were hurled to the top of the pyramids using a huge springboard. (Isn’t it beautiful? I really like this one.)
What this boy was doing in his head was, connecting all the little bits of knowledge he had—that electricity or trucks didn’t exist at the time, for example—with something from his P.E. class, a springboard. (slide #8) Through the exploration of logic and reasoning, children can learn to have fun when they think—just as this boy did. A 4th-grade boy told me, “Everything we do in Miki’s class is really fun!”
Getting back to my daughter, she’s now 8. I’ve encouraged her to think critically for several years, and I like to think she’s now a great critical thinker.
I asked her what she likes about thinking. Her reply was (slide #9): “Critical thinking has given me confidence. Because many ideas are based on my OWN thinking, they mean so much to me, and that’s why they give me confidence.”
One day I’d like to see Japanese children express their own ideas and debate as much as Western children do. But my biggest point is I want them to gain confidence and find out what they really want; to be able to value differences, understand their friends better, and learn how to use all the knowledge they’ve crammed into their little, wonderful minds.
And it can happen if more adults are willing to teach them the beauty of thinking. I’m ready to share my passion for teaching critical thinking with anyone interested—I hope you all are, too.