Posted: Thu, March 29, 2018 | By: Past Projects
REPORT FROM THE FACILITATOR: ASASIRA JUSTUS
On 28th March 2018, I held the very first Critical thinking workshop at Mbarara University of Science and Technology. The workshop, it was successful. First of all, thank you Brighter Brains Institute for the financial support.
The workshop started at 9am. The Introduced myself as a facilitator. Then I asked to participants to introduce themselves as well. The participants were 19. Find the list below.
After the introduction, I started the workshop with welcoming them. Then the presentation followed. I took them the Igwe’s system of critical thinking. I tried to relate critical thinking to the context of participants. The participant were students from Mbarara University of Science and Technology from various disciplines..
We looked at the two steps of iDoubt system (Individual and Inspire doubt) developed by Leo Igwe. We would have gone ahead to look at more steps and finish them. But I noted that it was important to go step by step, cover a step, and allow participants ask questions. Construct statements, get questions form their fellow participants and get used to the iDoubt system and how it stimulates critical thinking.
We looked at one interesting case in our presentation: A man who had been bewitched and had a snake stuck on his throat (for more than 2 weeks) in Nyakayojo division in Mbarara Municipality. This man did bad/sinned/angered someone and was bewitched. So the witch doctor who is based in Itaaba shrine (found in Nyakayojo division) healed him and sneak got off his throat. The participants were curios asking how this person was helped by the witch doctor. And we further dug deeper to understand how witch doctors work, whether this is the right place to go to when we are stuck in problems or how to make a decision.
Using the Kanungu example (burnt follower of Kibweteere), one of the participants explained to us how he also knew that in the year 2000 the world would come to an end. He explained to us how prepared he was to see life end. The participant is a good church goer and he always go to church to commemorate end of year and usher into the new year after praying and dedicating his life to God and asking for blessings in the new year. The student narrated that following what he was hearing in Kanungu, he decided not to follow Kibweteere but remained in his religion (catholic religion). He went to church, kept in church until 11:56pm in the night, and went outside to see what will happen when it comes to midnight as he crossed to the New Year. To his surprise, it was a normal day like other, a normal crossover to the New Year like the previous years he had gone through and witnessed as they come to the end. The participant was asked questions why he did not follow Kibweteere and his response was that
… “I don’t follow need religious beliefs, I believe I was born a catholic, I should not change and go to a new religion, which I am not certain of its origin” The participant added that “I knew that such a bad thing was likely to happen to his followers (Kibweteere) and I was not surprised to hear that they had been burnt after some months later”
From this experience, other participants appreciated how critical thinking is important for their life, safety, and key in decision making. Had it not been his consciousness (participant) that decided not to follow Kibweteere, he would have lost his life as well. Today he has life, he is in a university studying, he is conscious about every decision that he takes. Critical thinking to this participant means “thinking twice, then act or don’t act”.
Critical thinking fits in real life situations. Participants agreed that this is true. It is okay to question religion consciously, quietly, and one can be able to make a valid judgment.
During students’ exercises, one participant stated that “I always leave for his home at 10pm”. The facilitator gave an opportunity to the participants to ask this participant. Questions of why, how, when, where is his home, with who? And other questions surrounded him and he had to answer.
His responses to these questions:
“I get caught up with activities at campus, including watching football, jazzing with my friends, discussing in groups (academic discussions). I only go home to sleep/rest at night. Nothing else I can do in my hostel. I go with friends, and I got home at 10 on a daily basis and I walk on foot. I am safe moving at 10am and people are still walking at that time, so I am safe”
We used Igwe’s iDoubt system example “Steven Robbed the bank yesterday” (I doubt+ explanations). Participants were able to asked questions about the whole process.
A participant argued that he would defend Steven because he was with him the biggest part of the day.
A participant said that he cannot believe that Steven know the techniques or methods used to rob the bank. He added that Steven is not competent enough to rob the bank as it may involve much hustle which Steven may not be good at.
Another participant highlighted how he knows Steven’s character, well behaved, humble and not capable of robbing a bank.
Another participant said that he would defend Steven for example if in the previous fellowship preached against robbery and related bad acts, and she would not believe that Steven robbed the bank yesterday.
Steven was described by his way of conduct, very smart, gentle and he is not a kind of person who can rob.
These were interesting bits of responses that participants gave, that I found convincing to tell who can rob, from who cannot rob. Participants showed that critical thinking stimulated their attitude to question whatever they hear, see, and they should believe as true or false.
In the workshop, I and participants scrutinized the statement “Last night I flew with my arms to Tanzania, and then back home”
As critical thinkers, participants were in position to ask questions;
Why I flew at night?
Whether I possess physical state or if am a spirit?
If I have evidence that I actually flew to Tanzania and what special thing did I bring from there?
Is my home at the boarder? If so, that is possible to go Tanzania, come back at night because it would be a matter of crossing there and back.
What does “I” represent? Could the “I” be a bird or something else?
A statement from a participant “I was once a foot baller” she stated.
To critically examiner her statement, the following questions were asked and she responded as well.
Which team did you play for? Kyamakanda Girls secondary school
Which number in the field were you playing? Number 9
When were you a player for that team? From 2011-205
What happened? I felt I was old, should retire. I also finished high school and I could not keep on the school team when I am not a student
What show that you were a footballer and what did you gain? I have certificates that I was given (certificate of recognition), I also gained a scholarship for my high school.
To question and get rid of doubt over a certain statement, activity, or any other thing, evidence is key. As a critical thinker (participants) emphasized the need to examine, seek for more evidence before believing or accepting it.
On the Inspire Doubt,
We took time and looked at the inspire doubt, participants liked it as well. They were curious about questioning these kinds of statements.
On the statement ”I was born in China sixty years ago”, a critical thinker would need to ascertain the following:
How old I am now?
What shows? Can I present my national Identity card?
How comes I am dark skinned?
Why did I shift to Uganda?
These questions were from participants, and they explained how acquiring knowledge on critical thinking is even relevant for their studies. This will inspire them as they make academic related decisions.
Jokingly, a student read to us a statement “ Grace Mugabe is my ex-girlfriend”
The participants asked questions to critically examine his statement, he responded as well.
How old are you? Am 23 years
How did you meet Grace Mugabe? In a conference in South Africa
When was that? In 2012
Why did you breakup? I found out that she was a wife to Zimbabwean president.
This broke to ice, it was fun, enjoyable. Participants liked this kind of quizzing and ascertaining the truth before believing and accepting it. I also enjoyed the workshop as students liked it, understood it, and even grasped the basics of critical thinking.
The workshop ended at 2:15pm with lunch. All the participants were happy about this workshop. They asked me if we can have another one to finish all the steps of iDoubt system as developed by Igwe.
The workshop was interesting to the participants, they were willing to learn and put in practice the knowledge they have acquired today. I observed that they need more knowledge. We can engage them further to have something tangible. Practical critical thinking will be important. Allowing ourselves to come out and critically and study a particular believe in our setting and critically think about it before we accept or believe it.
I believe, if we follow that, we could have something tangible to publish for the entire community’s consumption of the knowledge we will have generated through such workshops.
In future, I intend to engage a bigger number to generate more ideas.
I promised the participants another workshop. Do you think we can have this one funded as well? Can we look at the possibilities of training the first cohort of these Critical Thinking ambassadors fully to spread this knowledge? That would be great with your support.
Can we focus on publishing such knowledge as well? This would make such a project bigger. Understanding culture and questioning believes is what I cherish.