Having passed several chronological milestones, one increasingly has had to field questions that assume that all the basic competencies required to function as an independent contributor to life in various spheres have been achieved. Invariably these often centre on the achievement of academic, financial, material and career milestones. Amidst the focus on these admittedly essential categories is a lack of focus on the attainment of certain critical thinking skills.
I subscribe to the belief that a child is born with a blank worldview – the so called tabula rasa. Over time he/she acquires knowledge about life; typically by experience. The child thus builds up a worldview- religious, social, cultural, sexual even. At it’s most basic, this worldview is a set of answers for what constitute good, bad, the why of life, meaning, etc. Of necessity, these answers have to be gleaned from others in the early days – parents and relatives, peers, civic and religious leaders and teachers.
At some stage in the development of the child – as the kid morphs into a young adult – these acquired answers require testing to verify that their base assumptions and conclusions remain valid in the light of the continuously evolving social, religious and cultural space. Therein lies the problem – the vast majority of people are not trained, or are unwilling, to question the answers they have been raised by. When juxtaposed with the critical role these young adults, when they morph into parents, have to play in moulding the thinking of the next generation, it becomes critical for them to get it right.
Truly mature young adults thus have a responsibility to themselves and the next generation to ask the big questions and investigate the answers they have acquired. There should come a time when “because I said so” should no longer suffice as a reason for the answers we carry. Only then can the bloke truly lay claim to having come of age.