DEVELOPING CRITICAL THINKERS Stephen Brookfield Distinguished University Professor University of St. Thomas www.stephenbrookfield.com CORE ASSUMPTIONS
Sincerity of Assumptions Does NOT Equate with Students Goodwill Good Teaching = Whatever Helps Our Students Learn Best Practice is Critically Reflective Checking Our Assumptions About Practice Most Important Pedagogic Knowledge How Students Experience Learning
CIRCLE OF VOICES Each person has up to 1 minute to say whatever they wish to say on the topic no interruptions allowed. Once all have spoken the group moves into .. Open conversation: here you only talk about what someone else said in the opening round WHATS THE MOST RECENT EXAMPLE OF CRITICAL THINKING YOUVE SEEN OR PRACTICED?
WHAT IS IT? 4 FUNCTIONS IDENTIFYING OUR ASSUMPTIONS CHECKING THEIR ACCURACY & VALIDITY VIEWING IDEAS & ACTIONS FROM ALTERNATE PERSPECTIVES TAKING INFORMED ACTION - THE SURVIVAL SKILL OF ADULT LIFE
WHY FOCUS ON IT? To Take Informed Action Action Based on Evidence That Can be Cited & Considered By Others Action That Can be Explained & Justified Action That Has Its Assumptions Known & Checked Action That Stands a Chance of Achieving
Its Intended Consequence Action Thats In Our Best Interest INFORMED ACTION = APPLYING & EXTENDING KNOWLEDGE Deciding that an idea or practice has utility or fit in an area outside its original formulation Deciding an idea or practice is indeed appropriate for a context Learning to recognize the cues in situations that call forth certain ideas & practices
Understanding that informed action needs new knowledge TYPES OF ASSUMPTIONS CAUSAL - purports to explain a sequence of events PRESCRIPTIVE - assumptions about how we wish things to be PARADIGMATIC - framing, structuring assumptions viewed as obvious, natural, common sense
WHEN WE SCRUTINIZE ASSUMPTIONS WE ANALYZE OUR PRACTICES & IDEAS FOR SIGNIFICANT CUES THAT CAUSE US TO JUDGE AN ASSUMPTION FITS MAKE JUDGMENTS CONCERNING THE ACCURACY & RELIABILITY OF EVIDENCE WHEN WE SEE THINGS FROM DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS WE ...
UNDERSTAND BETTER HOW INFORMATION FROM ONE SOURCE OR CATEGORY FITS WITH INFORMATION FROM OTHERS INTEGRATE OUR ACTIONS WITH THOSE OF OTHERS KNOW HOW TO COMMUNICATE IDEAS TO OTHERS Circular Response 1st person responds to question for up to a minute no interruptions. 2nd person responds to 1st persons
comments, 3rd person responds to 2nd persons comments, and so on. When everyone has spoken group moves into open conversation. WHAT MOST HELPS YOUR STUDENTS LEARN CRITICAL THINKING? WHEN IS IT BEST TAUGHT? Beyond the Novice Level After Initial Assimilation
When Classroom Skills and Knowledge Have to be Applied in the Real World When Independent Judgment is Called For WHEN IS IT BEST TAUGHT? When Alternative Explanations and Interpretations are Possible When Actions, Decisions, &
Judgments Need to be Informed When Thinking on Your Feet & Improvisation is Called For CRITICAL INCIDENT QUESTIONNAIRE Moment Most Engaged Moment Most Distanced Action Most Helpful Action Most Puzzling What Surprised You Most
CRITICAL INCIDENT QUESTIONNAIRE Anonymous Report Back at Start of Next Class Responsiveness Not Capitulation Early Warning System Illustrates Diversity in Classroom Models Critical Thinking Snowballing
Share responses in pairs Pairs join to share as quartets Quartets join to share as octets At each stage groups share emerging issues, questions & differences Question HOW DO YOU MODEL CRITICAL THINKING FOR YOUR STUDENTS?
WHAT STUDENTS SAY IS HELPFUL - MODELING Seeing it MODELED & Named When Teachers Talk Out Loud Their Assumptions Behind Practices When Teachers Do Regular Assumption
Audits Here are my assumptions Im working under When Teachers Say When Their Assumptions are Confirmed & Challenged MODELING When Teachers Use the CIQ to Check Assumptions in Front of Students When Teachers Bring in Real Life Experience When Assumptions Were Confirmed & Challenged In Team Teaching When Members
Take Different Positions and Clarify Each Others Assumptions MODELING When Teachers Critique Their Own Positions - Moving Around the Classroom When Teachers Speak in Tongues at Different Stations in the
Classroom When Teachers Consistently Discuss Their Criteria for Judging Credibility of Authoritative Sources WHAT SHOULD WE REMEMBER AS TEACHERS? Modeling, Modeling, Modeling Resistance is Normal & Predictable
Critical Thinking is Incremental - Start Well Away From the Students Reasoning & Actions, Help them Learn Critical Protocols, and Over Time Move Closer and Closer to the Students Own Reasoning & WHAT SHOULD WE REMEMBER? BUILD A CASE USING FORMER RESISTERS WHEN POSSIBLE
FOCUS ON SPECIFIC EXPERIENCES CRITICAL THINKING IS A SOCIAL LEARNING PROCESS PEERS AS CRITICAL MIRRORS Stephen Brookfield Books Developing Critical Thinkers (1987) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher (1995) The Power of Critical Theory (2004) Discussion as a Way of Teaching (2005,
2nd Ed.) with Stephen Preskill The Skillful Teacher (2006, 2nd. Ed.) All published by Jossey Bass, San Francisco Home Page: www.stephenbrookfield.com
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