CRITICAL THINKING

The development of critical thinking is one of the most important processes during adolescence. It is the ability to make correct decisions based on the right values. A person who thinks critically judges and acts from inner principles and a depth of conviction. He is not particularly susceptible to peer pressure. Nor is he prone to rash judgments or emotional reactions to situations.

At its deepest level, critical thinking implies that a person has understood and taken to heart values which will lead him to happiness both in the future and in eternity.

The virtue of prudence, or sound judgement, underpins critical thinking. Sound judgement always starts with a solid grasp of what the reality of a situation is. Only if the facts are considered can sensible decisions be made. How many arguments and mistakes we would avoid if we simply acted objectively, taking care to find out the relevant facts first.

Teaching critical thinking.

Parents should help their children look for the facts in a situation. This helps them to avoid decisions based on incomplete information, emotion or personal prejudice. Secondly they need to give their children sound standards with which to evaluate right and wrong actions. For adolescents, this mainly involves making the family values their “own” and matching their behaviour to these values. They need to learn to reflect on their motives. Thirdly they need to build up in their children the strength to commit themselves to choices in life, and follow through resolutely on these decisions.

Some practical suggestions…

Laying the Foundations for Critical Thinking.

1. Teach children to pay attention to facts and details. Play observation, concentration and memory games. When you need to know “What happened?” insist on main facts not trivia.

2. Give reading a high priority in the home. Children should read some time every night and every day in the holidays. Read to them. Let them see you reading much more than they see you watching TV. Have a quiet time each evening when you read too. Talk about what you have read. Take the children regularly to the library.

3. Insist that children learn to listen as well as express themselves. Each should value what others have to say at the dinner table.

4. Teach the difference between fact and opinion, and between fact and fiction. Observe your children’s reactions as they watch TV. Talk about television programmes afterwards.

5. Truth is sacred. Always follow up every lie and insincerity of a child.

6. Be open to learning new things and share this fascination for knowledge with your children. Visit museums, concerts, exhibitions and performances. Explore the geography of Sydney. Let them see you making new friends. Show an active interest in other cultures, nature, and world events. Shun cultural complacency.

7. Be approachable. Make it easy for your children to ask questions and advice. Avoid extremes of passivity (“Not now, son!”) and of being a parent who is a boring know-all, or who can’t admit a mistake.

8. Give clear advice that works. Your son or daughter will come back if it is helpful.

9. Have clear standards for respect, cooperation, responsibility, work and personal presentation in your home.

10. Teach the process of establishing standards and then judging according to those standards. Have discussions about the relative merits of toys, cars, ads etc according to agreed criteria.

Teaching critical thinking to adolescents

Family Values

1. Have a clear vision of your family values. Ensure that these values will provide answers for this life and the next, and are neither arbitrary nor self-centred.
2. Give moral leadership. Explain the motives and values that underlie your behaviour and expectations.
3. Help them to see that the way they spend money reflects their values. Talk of your family budget as a numerical measure of the family values.

Teenagers need to think

4. Require your adolescent to think much more than to do. Don’t require conformity with your own behaviour. Do insist on family values and that he reflects on the consistency of his behaviour with his values.
5. Help him to focus on the facts. Ask not only “What do you know about this matter?” but also “How do you know?”.
6. Ensure that your teenager’s life is not dominated by activity and incessant noise which would drown out personal reflection and thought. Pick up “escapist” behaviour early…constant loud music, self imposed isolation from the rest of the family, friends who are never brought home, intolerance of other family members, going out too often, etc.

Coping with influences and prejudices

7. Watch for signs of ideological influence…stereotyped jargon in conversation, aggressiveness, changes of friends, etc. Teach him to see through the ideological arguments which society bombards us with…materialism, individuality, freedom above everything, pleasure and comfort as the goal of life, power and success, etc. Show that these values are only half truths, are based on a impoverished view of man, and can tell us little about love and lasting happiness.
8. Encourage him not to give his opinion lightly. Help him to see the need to recognise his own prejudices, hear both sides and get all the facts before making up his mind.

Giving information

9. Give standards and information according to the 3C’ .sBe Clear, Concise, and then Change the subject.
10. Think ahead. Be prepared to answer difficult questions with good reasons.
11. Avoid arguments. Don’ t lecture, nag or get angry. Disagreements usually arise when two parties have not agreed on the facts or on the criteria on which to judge those facts. Emotions cloud rationality and the teenager is likely to become intimidated, resentful or insincere.
12. When you do have an argument, talk afterwards, clarify goals and values, and reconsider sanctions which may have been excessive in the heat of the moment.

Decision Making

13. Ask him to reflect on the causes and consequences of his actions. Teach to foresee consequences and to face consequences.
14. Ask “what” and “why” as well as “how” and “when” about things he wants to do.
15. Often you can request an adolescent to make his own decisions, having first helped him to consider whether he has the correct information, and whether he has considered the various options and consequences for himself and others. Point out to him the options which you cannot allow him to choose because they would involve physical or moral danger.
16. Consult your teenager in your decisions which will affect him. This at least means that you will better understand his position when you make a decision and it will teach him to take others’ viewpoints into account in his decision -making.

Building character in adolescence

17. Help him discover that development of character involves three stages:

  1. Know yourself.
  2. Possess yourself.
  3. Give of yourself.

18. Help him to know himself; to think about himself and what he can contribute in life with objectivity. Help him to understand emotions; that in themselves they are good, but can be fickle and destructive if they are not guided by our intelligence. It is less important to “feel good about oneself” (such a common phrase these days) than to “think” good about oneself.
19. Help him to “possess himself”. Once a person knows himself and his possibilities, he can set attainable goals, act effectively, and strive to become better.
20. Help him give of himself to be people-centred not thing-centred. This attitude of self-giving is an expression of love.
21. Teach that love is the key to real happiness, but that in this life love is interwoven inescapably with suffering.

Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri (Madrid, 1916 – Pamplona, 1975) was one of the first women to join Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer in his efforts to spread the universal call of Christians to holiness, through Opus Dei. The text of the decree promulgated by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints highlights how Guadalupe lived the virtues to a heroic degree, and “with joy, gave herself completely to God and to the service of the Church, experiencing divine love with intensity” (Decree on the Heroic Virtues of Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri).

She knew how to find God in the daily efforts of her scientific research and teaching; in the various tasks of formation and government that Saint Josemaria entrusted to her; and in her illness, which she bore with a strong Christian spirit.”

The Spanish chemist, who also spent various years in Mexico and Italy, is the first lay person in Opus Dei to be raised to the altars.
Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri will be beatified in Madrid, her hometown, on Saturday 18 May 2019, the anniversary of her First Holy Communion.

The Holy Father approved the miracle needed for her beatification on 8th June 2018.

Read more….

Edmund Hernandez passed away on Sunday, April 14th at the age of 93 in California. He was one of the first lay members of Opus Dei to come to Kenya on 25 Aug 1958. An architect by profession, Ed opened his own firm soon after arriving and began the architectural work that he continued to practice In Kenya for another 25 years.

Ed Hernandez was born in Peoria, Illinois to Michael and Juanita Hernandez. Ed had five brothers (George, Robert, Raymond, Henry and Louis) and one sister (Connie), all of whom were educated in the public Catholic Schools of Peoria, Illinois.

When Ed was 16 years old he drove down to the Peoria Department of Motor Vehicles.. The clerk asked him how he got there, and when he told him he drove, they gave him his license without any further questions. He served in the US Army at the very end of the World War II during which he was posted to the Aleutian Islands. Thanks to the GI Bill that financed higher education for former armed forces personnel, for which he was ever grateful, he was able to attend the University of Illinois, where he graduated with both an undergraduate and a master´s degree in architecture. Ed started practicing his profession while working as an adjunct professor for two years at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Ed then went to live in Rome for two years, where he worked as an architect at the Roman College of the Holy Cross and helped in the initial construction of the buildings for the headquarters of Opus Dei in Rome.

One day Ed met Fr Joseph Muzquiz, one of the first priests of Opus Dei and one of the first people to go to US to start Opus Dei, and told him that he had dreamt of marrying and having a large family, just as his parents had done. He could not imagine that God was going to be much more generous with him and give him the even bigger family that Opus Dei really is.

After his two years in Rome he was one of the first people of Opus Dei whom Saint Josemaria asked to go to East Africa.

Fr Henry, Ed and Joao infront of the Italian Church Rift Valley 1961.
During his years in Kenya (1958-1983) he helped the beginnings of Opus Dei and worked as an architect. Some of his projects were the original Strathmore College, now Strathmore School in Lavington, Kianda School, Kianda Residence, Riverside Residence, Finance House (Koinange Street), Protection House (Haile Selassie Avenue), the Telecommunications College (now Multimedia University), and other educational institutions.

After spending 25 years in Kenya working as an architect and helping in the work of Opus Dei, he returned to the US where he continued his architectural practice..

Ed with Kennedy Mugo (alumnus) in Berkeley, California

Ed was a good and kind man. He was described as a gentleman by many of his friends. He was also very smart and would amaze people with his great recall of details of events from 50 to 60 years prior.

His funeral took place in St Mary’s Catholic Church in Oakland on April 23, 2019 and he was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California, US.

Everybody in Kenya and in many parts of East Africa are grateful to him for his fidelity, for being one of the first to come to Kenya and for planting many seeds of the spirit of Saint Josemaría in this part of the world.

This year Strathmore School fielded a Handball team which featured in the County games. Strathmore School was pooled alongside Hospital Hill High School, Nairobi School, Kangemi and Loresho High School. The handball team managed to win two matches in their pool but could not proceed to the County knockout stages. The school team has students drawn from Form Two and Three classes who will be there next year to feature in the same tournament. They have high hopes of performing better next this year.

The school’s annual swimming gala was held on 23rd March 2019. It was a climax of the 4 Swimming gala events that the school swimming team has participated in. The 4 gala events were PIPSA (at St. Nicholas School), PIPSA (at School of Nations), Nakifeo (at Makini School), Lifetime (at Makini School). In these events Strathmore scooped position 2,2,1 and 1 respectively. The age groups featured were mainly between 7-and-Under to 13.

25 meter Medley Backstroke 7 & under 25 meter Free Style (Crawl) 7 & under
1 Ryan Mukoto 1 Ryan Mukoto
2 Lugali Osundwa 2 Keita Abondo
3 Rafael Kaminchia 3 Rafael Kamincha
50 meter Backstroke 50 meter Free Style (Crawl) 8 & 9
1 Emmanuel Otieno 1 Robert Mwangi
2 Adam Otieno 2 Justin Kariuki
3 Michira Mbugua 3 Jabari Areri
25 meter Kickboard 7 & under 50 meter Free Style (Crawl) 10 & 11
1 Rafael Kaminchia 1 Alex Kariuki
2 Keita Abondo 2 Kerama Nyanyuki
3 Ryan Mukoto 3 John Peter Ngala
50 meter Butterfly 8 & 9 50 meter Free Style (Crawl) 12 & 13
1 Justin Kariuki 1 Emmanuel Otieno
2 Jabari Areri 2 Adam Otieno
3 Robert Mwangi 3 Ndungu Kimani
50 meter Butterfly 10 & 11 Fins 25 meter Free Style (Crawl) 7 & under
1 Alex Kariuki 1 Keita Abondo
2 Kerama Nyanyuki 2 Ryan Mukoto
3 John Peter Ngala 3 Rafael Kamincha
50 meter Butterfly 12 & 13 50 meter Breast Stroke 8 & 9
1 Emmanuel Otieno 1 Justin Kariuki
2 Adam Otieno 2 Aidan Muiga
3 Ndungu Kimani 3 Jabari Areri
50 meter Backstroke 10 & 11 50 meter Breast Stroke 10 & 11
1 Alex Kariuki 1 Alex Kariuki
2 Kerama Nyanyuki 2 Kerama Nyanyuki
3 John Peter Ngala 3 John Peter Ngala
Free Style (Crawl) Relay 50 meter Breast Stroke 12 & 13
1 Keita Abondo 1 Adam Otieno
Robert Mwangi 2 Ndungu Kimani
John Peter Ngala 3 Emmanuel Otieno
Ndungu Kimani
2 Ryan Mukoto 25 meter Breast Stroke 7 & under
Aidan Muigai 1 Ryan Mukoto
Kerama Nyanyuki 2 Keita Abondo
Emmanuel Otieno 3 Michael Kathambana
3 Michael Kathambana
Justin Kariuki Medley Relay
Victor Nzoka 1 Ryan Mukoto
Solomon Muigai Nelson Onyango
Justin Kariuki
Adam Otieno
2 Keita Abondo
Ian Koinange
Kerama Nyanyuki
Leon Abwoga
3 Michael Kathambana
Aidan Muiga
John Mogusu
Jason Ngugi

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