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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ACT CRITICALLY?. Stephen Brookfield Distinguished University Professor University of St. Thomas Minneapolis-St. Paul. CRITICAL THINKING. A premature ultimate – its invocation stops further analysis & questioning In most H.E. mission statements

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what does it mean to act critically

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ACT CRITICALLY?

Stephen Brookfield

Distinguished University Professor

University of St. Thomas

Minneapolis-St. Paul

critical thinking
CRITICAL THINKING
  • A premature ultimate – its invocation stops further analysis & questioning
  • In most H.E. mission statements
  • Broad agreement on process – identifying & checking assumptions
  • Implementation changes depending on intellectual tradition most influential
critical traditions
Critical Traditions ….
  • ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY – logical fallacies, argument analysis – inductive, deductive, analogical, inferential
  • NATURAL SCIENCE – hypothetical-deductive method, principle of falsifiability
  • CRITICAL THEORY – uncovering power dynamics & ideological manipulation
  • PRAGMATISM – experimental pursuit of beautiful consequences (democracy)
core assumptions of critical theory
Core Assumptions of Critical Theory
  • Society organized to make permanent inequity appear normal, a natural state of affairs
  • Perception of normality created & disseminated via dominant ideology
  • Point of theory is to illuminate as a prompt to action
what does it mean to be critical five tasks pursued experimentally
What Does it Mean to Be Critical?Five Tasks Pursued Experimentally
  • Understand how power operates – its dynamics, its ethical use & abuse in relationships, work & community
  • Detect ideological manipulation
  • Recognize & challenge hegemony
  • Be alert to how repressive tolerance neutralizes challenges to the system
  • Practice democracy
understanding power
Understanding Power
  • Researching use of teacher power
  • Understanding student-student dynamics
  • CRITICAL INCIDENT QUESTIONNAIRE
  • Most engaged moment
  • Most distanced moment
  • Most helpful action
  • Most puzzling action
  • What surprised you most
ideological manipulation
IDEOLOGICAL MANIPULATION
  • How ideology is embedded in micro-actions & everyday decisions …
  • Depression – patriarchy
  • Micro-aggressions: racial & gender
  • Political participation – “they’re all the same”, “everything’s fixed”, “mustn’t grumble”
ideological manipulation1
IDEOLOGICAL MANIPULATION
  • CAPITALISM
  • Competition as natural survival of fittest
  • Efficiency via division of labor
  • Exchange dynamic
  • Privatization – taking care of your own
hegemony
HEGEMONY
  • Enthusiastic embrace of actions & beliefs that harm us & serve the interests of others ….

VOCATION

  • “Killing me softly”
repressive tolerance marcuse
Repressive Tolerance (Marcuse)
  • Include enough challenge to the system to neutralize it – critical theory texts
  • Diversifying curriculum as smorgasbord – mainstream always defines the norm
  • Ideology of democratic tolerance – flattening of discussion when all experiences & viewpoints are considered equally valid
practicing democracy
PRACTICING DEMOCRACY
  • Decisions after inclusive conversation
  • Decision making processes represent interests of those most affected
  • Resources stewarded & used for benefit of widest number of people, ‘common good’
  • Negotiation of shared interest – collective interest privileged over private interest
resources
RESOURCES
  • www.stephenbrookfield.com
  • www.the99ersband.com
  • The Power of Critical Theory (2004)
  • Radicalizing Learning (2010) with John Holst
  • Teaching for Critical Thinking (2012)
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