Has critical thinking been applied to how critical thinking should be taught?

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Robert M Ellis 1 year, 3 months ago.

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  • #6395

    Barry Daniel

    Air Traffic Control Tower

    Here’s an interesting article (brought to my attention by Willie Grieve) which highlights some of the potential limitations of a more dispositional approach to learning. I think it’s far too simplistic however, although after just coming back from Oz, I’m far to jet-lagged at the moment to articulate why so I’ve put it up hopefully generate some discussion.

  • #6412

    Robert M Ellis

    This person has clearly never actually done any teaching of critical thinking. Of course you can’t teach skills without any content, and examples are constantly used in critical thinking teaching. The point, however, is that varied content is used to make the skills flexible. Domain dependence is a cognitive bias to which we are subject, but not one we can do nothing about, and critical thinking training is precisely geared to help people overcome the limitations of domain dependence by practising the application of their skills in a variety of areas. If we were really necessarily so immovably domain dependent as the author seems to think, then almost everything studied in school would be totally irrelevant, as students would be unable to apply what they learnt in an academic context in work or other areas of life. In fact, the phenomenon of domain dependence suggests that we need general critical thinking more, not less, because it is more general training that is more likely to be helpful to students in future.

    As a critical thinking teacher, I get very fed up with people like this claiming that critical thinking ‘cannot be taught’, when they have plainly never tried to teach it. I get even more fed up when this unexamined point of view appears to have taken over the UK government’s attitude to the subject, and is now leading to its abolition as an AS/A Level from the end of this academic year. This is trebly ironic when universities constantly call for better critical thinking skills from students, and yet have contributed to the undermining of the very programme that is developing them.

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