Tag Archives: Critical thinking

Discussion: Week 11

Discussion – critical thinking and agonism Week 11


What is the difference between critical thinking (Warren 1995) and agonism (Tannen 2000)?

I think this is an area that frequently causes confusion for students, especially when they are asked to write a critical review.


Warren’s take on critical thinking is a process which involves utilising skills such as problem solving and attitudes such as open mindedness, sensitivity, persistence to name a few to decide “what to or believe” (1995, 206). This process involves critical thinking and creative thinking merging with background knowledge to help create an informed decision. Warren purports that students who think critically do well in their studies because they “realize one’s full human potential as a learner” (1995, 208).


On the other hand, Tannen explains that agonism “refers to ritualised opposition” (2000, 213) where people debate over a topic and the stronger (or louder) person wins. The author further observes that university culture is agonistic and an example is the argument essay where students must take a stance and prove their work is correct while other research is wrong. Another example is when students have debates rather than discussions of a topic, here some students may do well, but others will not due to the aggressive nature of the discourse.


I believe that I have become a critical thinker in that I no longer take things at face value in my personal life as well as in the media and I like asking questions of my world view, however, I am a quiet person by nature and would never take part in a debate. I think that I would not do well if I had to be more aggressive because that’s just not me.


Discussion: Brookfield reading


Can you identify Brookfield’s thesis?

What verbs does the writer use to introduce his references? For instance, in line 2 he says: ‘The New York Times reports that…’ Take notice of these verbs so you can use them in your own writing (‘he argues’, ‘she asserts’, ‘contends’, etc).

There is a nice new word to find in this piece that denotes a questioning, doubting attitude which is necessary to critical thinking but not negative unless in excess?


The thesis was difficult to identify in this reading, but I thought this may have been it: “But critical thinking is an activity that can be observed in settings and domains very far removed from school or college classroom” (Brookfield 1989, 4).  My reasoning is that the book chapter refers to the critical thinking students will do after they leave university, such as in relationships, within a work environment, or when they question politicians or the media.


The author explains that the critical thinking being taught in school or college is vastly different to the critical thinking they do after studying. Brookfield then explains the concepts and how people can learn to think critically to solve their problems outside academia.


Brookfield uses great verbs, such as “… points out”, “…observes”, “specifies”, and “calls for”. The author also used “echoes” and “defines”.


I’m going out on a limb here, but I think the word Kersti is referring to skepticism. Brookfield discusses reflective skepticism in page nine of this reading and how critical thinkers do not take anything at face value. In questioning the motive of others, critical thinkers are aware of their world views and are able to find alternative solutions to their problems.


Posted by on 02/05/2013 in SSK12



Discussion – Week 10

Discussion – Craig Reading week 10


What are your thoughts about this reading?


I had to enroll in Critical thinking as part of my course, it was in fact one of the first units I attempted in my first SP. I found it incredibly hard to adjust to this way of thinking and just managed a pass.

For this reason I went ahead and read all the critical thinking reading materials from Craig to Brookfield to see if I could get a better understanding of the subject.

I wish I had access to these back then because they are just what I needed. With the concept dictionary entry on Criticism, I’m aware now that by using the word ‘critical’ I had inadvertently put my world view on this way of thinking and I immediately shut down my mind to learning how to do it. Indeed, I thought “I’m not a negative person” nor do I enjoy arguing.

However, Craig underlined the fact that critical thinking is a “questioning spirit of examining a problem or task in order to form and then give judgement” (1994, 201).

This is how I plan to learn in the future – by asking questions, examining everything and not taking things at face value.


Discussion – Warren Reading


What is the relationship between critical thinking and university culture?


This was a great reading in that it was straight forwards and easy to understand.

I believe that in order to be a successful student I need to be able to think critically, but according to Warren I also need to employ creative thinking and be open to gathering background information (1995, 206).

The very skills that Warren describes of a critical thinker are the skills I need to be a better student, such as problem solving or metacognition (thinking about thinking), as well as dispositions such as open mindedness, contextual sensitivity, persistence, and decisiveness.

I agree with Warren that “to engage the critical self is to realize one’s full human potential as a learner (1995, 208) and I can do that by questioning the absolute truth about everything, which I believe is a valuable trait in university culture.

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Posted by on 01/29/2013 in SSK12