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.