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Critical Thinking & Critical Theory

December 17, 2017 by Tunya

Question asked:  Is critical thinking for logical pursuits or activist behavior? 

Annie Holmquist from Intellectual Takeout did a very fine and interesting interpretation of Uri Harris’s article on Critical Theory (the last of his 3-part series). It was published with the title: The Historical Origins of ‘Critical Thinking’ Theory, Dec 13, 2017. It ran for a short time, enough time to garner 5 comments. Then it was pulled, with anyone trying to read it getting the message: Access denied – You are not authorized to access this page.
I wanted to read the comments and participate, at least to praise Annie for the insight she passes on to parents. I am a parent and now grandparent and have been really troubled by what seems to transpire as “critical thinking” in school curriculum but which can become an opportunity for encouraging social justice topics and discussions of “oppression”. You can imagine my gratitude to see someone articulate this so well. Here are some excerpts: “ . . . critical theory appears to do away with solid, factual evidence, and instead exerts itself as a feelings-oriented agenda . . . the average individual believes that instruction in critical thinking is a good thing . . . But given the above definition of “critical,” is it possible that the average parent has been misled about the topic? Instead of teaching children to thoughtfully and logically evaluate objective facts, has instruction in critical thinking been teaching them to abandon objective truth and instead follow after activist ideas?”
In a list of topics for the day, Intellectual Takeout had this descriptor for this article by Annie Holmquist: America has a love affair with critical thinking… but is critical thinking based on rational thought, or an activist agenda?
Yes, I think parents and public are being misled when they are told “critical thinking” is a big emphasis in schools today. I think much of that activist slant on the topic comes from professional development and the tons of books on the topic, books that have the word “critical” in the title. I think even teachers may be misled as they might reach for a book with critical in the title and it turns out to be Critical Literacy in the Early Childhood Classroom: Unpacking histories, unlearning privilege, C R Kuby, 2013, Teachers College Press.
There are a lot of books of that nature for teachers. I’m glad I was able to read Annie’s article before it disappeared. This insight is indeed significant. Plus she provided links, one of which led to this series of articles by Uri Harris — very illuminating plus the comments are enlightening as well. If this insight gets out to parents they will be more skeptical about all this hype regarding “critical thinking” in the schools!

[ my comment to Quillette — “White Women Tears”—Critical Theory on Lindsay Shepherd written by Uri Harris , Dec 9, 2017 ]


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