How My Daughter Inspires Me To Think Critically

Published by alvinauh on

I use to think that critical thinking is a skill that I was pretty well versed with until my daughter started talking. Children view the world very differently from how we do, so it is no surprise that she started saying some pretty interesting stuff.


My daughter and I were having breakfast together when she looked at me and pointed to her forehead. She asked, “Dad, what do you call this?” I answered forehead.

She then asked why would we call it a forehead instead of a sixhead or a sevenhead. I was lost for words, but commend her on her creativity. Her ability to think creatively.

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The lesson my daughter has taught me is to question everything, no matter how illogical it may be. I find that at times we accept the world as it is and stopped questioning after a while. This is especially the case when it comes to teaching some college kids.

At times, it seems that they have been indoctrinated to think a certain way from school. This makes questioning difficult, which also makes critical thinking difficult. At times, we could learn a thing or two from children by questioning even the most logical things.


Most in our country are required to speak at least two languages. As such, my daughter started learning Mandarin in school. My daughter’s first language is English but since her friends all spoke mandarin she started to take an interest in it.

However, her exposure to mandarin was limited since only one of us speaks Mandarin at home. As such, she would always ask me if she wanted to know what a certain word means in Mandarin.

One day, while we were out walking together, she started to ask what is happy in mandarin. In case you don’t speak mandarin, happy is 高兴 in mandarin. It’s pronounced as 高(gao)兴(xin) .

She looked at me with a look of disbelief and asked if I was tall. She was not wrong, 高(gao) on its own means tall in mandarin. So I corrected her and told her that happy is 高兴. She then said, “Oh, does it mean then that you are happy and tall at the same time?”

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Mind blown (image source)

I laughed of course, but I realized the power of learning by building on what you already know. The concept is known as scaffolding. Through this, I learn how to b a better teacher by scaffolding my students’ knowledge. I remember the time when Twilight was a craze and I had to explain recycling to my students.

They knew nothing about recycling but everything about twilight. As such, I told them about how the female protagonist was ‘recycled’ by being dumped by one of the main characters but ‘recycled’ by being with someone else. The students instantly understood but it goes to show the importance of teaching through what the students know.


Parenting has taught me a lot about teaching, more than what I can learn from the books on pedagogy. For that, I am thankful to be a father.