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Critical Thinking, Quality Teaching and Critical Pedagogy

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Daniella Forster

on 20 August 2013

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Transcript of Critical Thinking, Quality Teaching and Critical Pedagogy

Critical Thinking, Quality Teaching and Critical Pedagogy
Outline
How do my thinking habits and beliefs impact on students in schools and in classrooms?
Critical thinking Skills and Dispositions
Analyse an excerpt from Freire’s argument
Problem posing pedagogy and critical thinking: Implications of Critical Pedagogy’s core concepts

What is Critical Thinking and how is related to critical pedagogy?
One possible definition (of many):
Critical Thinking is reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do. ... Robert Ennis
Skills AND Dispositions...
Analysing one of Freire's arguments
The banking concept distinguishes two stages in the action of the educator. During the first, he cognizes a cognizable object while he prepares his lessons n his study; during the second, he expounds to his students about that object. The students are not called upon to know, but to memorize the contents narrated by the teacher. Nor do the students practice any act of cognition, since the object towards which that act should be directed is the property of the teacher rather than a medium evoking the critical reflection of both teacher and students. Hence, in the name of the “preservation of culture and knowledge” we have a system which achieves neither true knowledge nor true culture”. (p57, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (last week's reading excerpt)
Recap: What is Critical Pedagogy?
Definition of critical pedagogy
...a teaching approach which attempts to help students question and challenge domination, and the beliefs and practices that dominate.

Ira Shor:
"Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional cliches, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse." (Empowering Education, 129)
Language is not neutral: Critical literacy, thinking and discourse (Shor, 2009)
Reading as
a process of taking critical postures towards language used in society (eg: media representations)

Writing as
A form of social action, of divergent thinking, of interrogating, of exploring, as resistance
Activity of making sense of complex perceptions and experiences
A way of learning and promoting critical thinking
A reiterative process of thinking clearly
1. Some people suffer disadvantages of multiple types due to membership of a ‘subaltern’ group: ethnicity, gender, sexuality, SES.
2. Some people enjoy more advantages due to membership of groups who have historically controlled ideologies, institutions and taken-for-granted norms (hegemony)
3. People struggle with each other for the possession of knowledge, status and material resources
__________________
Therefore society is in a constant state of conflict
More logic: Social reconstruction through critical literacy
1a) Hegemonies (dominant ideologies, institutions and taken-for-granted norms) are historically and socially constructed.
___________________
Therefore hegemonies can be re/constructed
2a). Hegemonic assumptions can be uncovered and analysed in all kinds of texts (written, visual, pop culture, etc)
2b). The skills of critical language analysis can be used by subaltern groups to understand social realities and imagine new possibilities
___________________
Therefore critical thinking applied through literacy is a powerful pedagogical practice for social re/construction
Critical literacy enables us to…
Uncover connections between knowledge and power, and the social constructions of values, norms and interests

Command the dominant language: Systematically analyse arguments, comparing, summarizing, clarifying, synthesising

How can you support critical literacy in your classroom, in your KLA?
What is Critical Thinking?
In pairs, list and discuss the attributes you associate with the ‘critical thinker’ in your classrooms.

How might you categorise these attributes?

Why might one think that critical thinking is important at all?

What do you/could you do to actively promote these skills and intellectual characteristics in your classroom?
Dispositions
1. The disposition to use CT skills when appropriate
2. Seek clarity
3. Seek reasons and evidence for claims
Why teach Critical Thinking?
1. It teaches people how to learn new things for themselves.
2. Critical thinking underlies decision making and problem solving.
3. Critical thinking is essential for participation in democracy.
4. It makes people less reliant on authorities and experts.*
5. The ability to understand and evaluate arguments is a skill that people do not automatically acquire.
Skill 1. Identifying arguments
An argument is a claim supported by reasons or evidence.

An argument consists of a conclusion along with one or more reasons for thinking that the conclusion is true.
The reasons given in support of the conclusion are also called premises.

Identifying arguments
Clarifying the meaning of claims
Identifying premises and conclusions
Identifying the structure of arguments 
Summarising arguments
Skills
Applying criteria
Judging the reliability of sources and observations
Focuses on understanding and applying the rational criteria for judging beliefs
Argument Analysis
Argument Evaluation
4. Be open-minded
Be aware of the risk of bias
Withhold judgment when evidence is insufficient
Be willing to change your mind if the evidence supports it

5. Meta-cognition
Apply CT skills to your own thinking
Quiz
Does the following passage contain an argument or not?

Most accidents in the workplace occur because machine safety devices have been removed to improve productivity, or because workers have been given inadequate training or inadequate safety equipment.

A. Yes, this is an argument.
B. No, this is not an argument.
Argument evaluation and dispositions
"develop a lively, sincere, and open-minded preference for conclusions that are properly grounded…. These habits are the 'rudiments of mental discipline’, they are not a 'gift from nature'” (Dewey, 1978, p. 203).
University should be free, because everyone deserves the same opportunities, regardless of wealth.
The reason or premise:
Everyone deserves the same opportunities, regardless of wealth.
The conclusion:
University should be free.
Example: What is an argument?
University should be free, because everyone deserves the same opportunities, regardless of wealth.
Re-organise text
The banking concept does not:
1. call students to know, but to memorize the contents narrated by the teacher.
2. Nor do the students practice any act of cognition.
Since
the object towards which that act should be directed is the property of the teacher rather than a medium evoking the critical reflection of both teacher and students.
Hence
, in the name of the “preservation of culture and knowledge” we have a system which achieves neither true knowledge nor true culture”. (p57)
Reorganise again...
Premise 1.
The object towards which [the students’ cognitive] act should be directed is the property of the teacher rather than a medium evoking the critical reflection of both teacher and students.
Therefore:
The banking concept does not
1. call students to know, but to memorize the contents narrated by the teacher.
2. Nor do the students practice any act of cognition.
Hence,
in the name of the “preservation of culture and knowledge” we have a system which achieves neither true knowledge nor true culture”. (p57)

Freire’s argument against ‘banking’ education: an analysed summary
The teacher-student relationship is fundamentally narrative in character
The teacher cannot think for his (sic) students
If the teacher acts as the narrator of knowledge, depositing ‘content’ into the students then they come to passively accept and adapt to the world as it is.
A passive acceptance minimizes students’ capacities to transform/create the world and become conscientized (able to critically consider reality)
_________________________________________
Therefore existing power relations are re-instated and reproduced, and students are prevented from becoming ‘more fully human’.
Freire’s argument for the transformational power of problem posing education (another analysed summary)
Only through communication (thought-action in the world) can human life hold meaning (authenticity-liberation)
Dialogical relations are indispensable to the capacity of humans (cognitive actors) to cooperate in perceiving the world
Problem-posing educators assume that students are intentional beings with knowledge already and are not determined by economic/social factors.
They create, together with students, a constant unveiling of reality through reflection and action (praxis)
______________________________________________________
Through problem-posing dialogue teacher-student and students-teachers emerge to become jointly responsible for educational growth (becoming/transformation)
Quality Teaching, Problem-posing pedagogy and Critical Thinking
Intellectual Quality

Quality Learning Environment

Significance

Deep Knowledge/Understanding
Problematic knowledge; Higher Order Thinking
Metalanguage; Substantive Communication

Explicit Criteria; Engagement; High Expectations;
Social Support; Self-regulation; Student direction

Background knowledge; Cultural Knowledge;
Knowledge Integration; Inclusivity; Connectedness; Narrative (meaning)

How do the skills and dispositions of critical thinking mesh (or not) with QT?

How does Freire's concepts of:
1. the teacher-student and students-teachers
2. problem-posing pedagogy

mesh (or not) with dimensions of QT?
Social Justice and Critical Literacy
" Many teachers reject authoritarian education. Many strive against quietly fitting students into the status quo. Many share the democratic goals of critical literacy. This educational work means… inventing…’literacy-from-below’ that questions the way things are and imagines alternatives, so that the word and the world may meet… for social justice” (Shor, 2009, p. 301)
Some criticisms of critical pedagogy: keeping an open mind
 Personal teacher bias indoctrinating students
 Intellectualization of issues, produces an elitist mindset, which counteracts the aims of critical pedagogy
 Selective about which ‘heroes’ to teach
 Keeping it real (or, rather, not keeping it real)
 Replacing one bias for another
Reading: bell hooks, Missimer excerpt and Kinchelo
How do I do 'problem-posing'?
To Name:
Form small groups and ask each person to name (state) a problem in his/her school site. After each has named a problem (or contradiction, conundrum, sticky situation, or mess) the small group build consensus and choose one problem to name
To Reflect Critically:
Each group reflects critically and search for various approaches to improve the situation
To Act:
The small group lists their recommended action to be taken (see: Winks p.160)
What is social Justice?
"Social justice is what faces you in the morning. It is awakening in a house with adequate water supply, cooking facilities and sanitation. It is the ability to nourish your children and send them to school where their education not only equips them for employment but reinforces their knowledge and understanding of their cultural inheritance. It is the prospect of genuine employment and good health: a life of choices and opportunity, free from discrimination."
Mick Dodson,Annual Report of the Aboriginaland Torres Strait IslanderSocial Justice Commissioner, 1993
Some logic: Critical Social Theory
BUT... What about the disposition to act towards social justice?
Think about ways you can infuse critical thinking into your teaching and how it can align with critical literacy and pedagogy
Complex Critical Thinking: the critical pedagogue's version
“… no matter how loudly we proclaim our fidelity to inclusion and egalitarianism, we must prove it over and over again by asking who designs our curriculum, whose voices do they include, whose work do they draw upon, and what role do they assign cultural, social, and economic others when they are included?” (Kincheloe, 2004, p. 6)
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