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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)