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Critical Thinking and Reflective Practices (8611) B.Ed (2/5, 1/5 Years)
Spring, 2017
Q.1 As a prospective teacher, do you believe that critical thinking is necessary for
improving the socioeconomic status of a country? Elaborate your answer with reference to
history of critical thinking.

The intellectual roots of critical thinking are as ancient as its etymology, traceable, ultimately, to the
teaching practice and vision of Socrates 2,500 years ago who discovered by a method of probing
questioning that people could not rationally justify their confident claims to knowledge. Confused
meanings, inadequate evidence, or self-contradictory beliefs often lurked beneath smooth but largely
empty rhetoric. Socrates established the fact that one cannot depend upon those in "authority" to have
sound knowledge and insight. He demonstrated that persons may have power and high position and
yet be deeply confused and irrational. He established the importance of asking deep questions that
probe profoundly into thinking before we accept ideas as worthy of belief.

He established the importance of seeking evidence, closely examining reasoning and assumptions,
analyzing basic concepts, and tracing out implications not only of what is said but of what is done as
well. His method of questioning is now known as "Socratic Questioning" and is the best known critical
thinking teaching strategy. In his mode of questioning, Socrates highlighted the need in thinking for
clarity and logical consistency.

Socrates set the agenda

Socrates set the agenda for the tradition of critical thinking, namely, to reflectively question common
beliefs and explanations, carefully distinguishing those beliefs that are reasonable and logical from
those which — however appealing they may be to our native egocentrism, however much they serve
our vested interests, however comfortable or comforting they may be — lack adequate evidence or
rational foundation to warrant our belief.

Socrates’ practice was followed by the critical thinking of Plato (who recorded Socrates’ thought),
Aristotle, and the Greek skeptics, all of whom emphasized that things are often very different from
what they appear to be and that only the trained mind is prepared to see through the way things look
to us on the surface (delusive appearances) to the way they really are beneath the surface (the deeper
realities of life). From this ancient Greek tradition emerged the need, for anyone who aspired to
understand the deeper realities, to think systematically, to trace implications broadly and deeply, for
only thinking that is comprehensive, well-reasoned, and responsive to objections can take us beyond
the surface.

In the Middle Ages, the tradition of systematic critical thinking was embodied in the writings and
teachings of such thinkers as Thomas Aquinas (Sumna Theologica) who to ensure his thinking met the
test of critical thought, always systematically stated, considered, and answered all criticisms of his
ideas as a necessary stage in developing them. Aquinas heightened our awareness not only of the
potential power of reasoning but also of the need for reasoning to be systematically cultivated and
"cross-examined." Of course, Aquinas’ thinking also illustrates that those who think critically do not
always reject established beliefs, only those beliefs that lack reasonable foundations.

In the Renaissance (15th and 16th Centuries), a flood of scholars in Europe began to think critically
about religion, art, society, human nature, law, and freedom. They proceeded with the assumption that
most of the domains of human life were in need of searching analysis and critique. Among these
scholars were Colet, Erasmus, and Moore in England. They followed up on the insight of the ancients.

Seeking knowledge

Francis Bacon, in England, was explicitly concerned with the way we misuse our minds in seeking
knowledge. He recognized explicitly that the mind cannot safely be left to its natural tendencies. In his
book The Advancement of Learning, he argued for the importance of studying the world empirically. He

laid the foundation for modern science with his emphasis on the information-gathering processes. He
also called attention to the fact that most people, if left to their own devices, develop bad habits of
thought (which he called "idols") that lead them to believe what is false or misleading. He called
attention to "Idols of the tribe" (the ways our mind naturally tends to trick itself), "Idols of the market-
place" (the ways we misuse words), "Idols of the theater" (our tendency to become trapped in
conventional systems of thought), and "Idols of the schools" (the problems in thinking when based on
blind rules and poor instruction). His book could be considered one of the earliest texts in critical
thinking, for his agenda was very much the traditional agenda of critical thinking.

Some fifty years later in France, Descartes wrote what might be called the second text in critical
thinking, Rules For the Direction of the Mind. In it, Descartes argued for the need for a special
systematic disciplining of the mind to guide it in thinking. He articulated and defended the need in
thinking for clarity and precision. He developed a method of critical thought based on the principle of
systematic doubt. He emphasized the need to base thinking on well-thought through foundational
assumptions. Every part of thinking, he argued, should be questioned, doubted, and tested.

Developed a model of a new social order

In the same time period, Sir Thomas Moore developed a model of a new social order, Utopia, in which
every domain of the present world was subject to critique. His implicit thesis was that established
social systems are in need of radical analysis and critique. The critical thinking of these Renaissance
and post-Renaissance scholars opened the way for the emergence of science and for the development
of democracy, human rights, and freedom for thought.

In the Italian Renaissance, Machiavelli’s The Prince critically assessed the politics of the day, and laid
the foundation for modern critical political thought. He refused to assume that government functioned
as those in power said it did. Rather, he critically analyzed how it did function and laid the foundation
for political thinking that exposes both, on the one hand, the real agendas of politicians and, on the
other hand, the many contradictions and inconsistencies of the hard, cruel, world of the politics of his

Hobbes and Locke (in 16th and 17th Century England) displayed the same confidence in the critical
mind of the thinker that we find in Machiavelli. Neither accepted the traditional picture of things
dominant in the thinking of their day. Neither accepted as necessarily rational that which was
considered "normal" in their culture. Both looked to the critical mind to open up new vistas of learning.
Hobbes adopted a naturalistic view of the world in which everything was to be explained by evidence
and reasoning. Locke defended a common sense analysis of everyday life and thought. He laid the
theoretical foundation for critical thinking about basic human rights and the responsibilities of all
governments to submit to the reasoned criticism of thoughtful citizens.

It was in this spirit of intellectual freedom and critical thought that people such as Robert Boyle (in the
17th Century) and Sir Isaac Newton (in the 17th and 18th Century) did their work. In his Sceptical
Chymist, Boyle severely criticized the chemical theory that had preceded him. Newton, in turn,
developed a far-reaching framework of thought which roundly criticized the traditionally accepted world
view. He extended the critical thought of such minds as Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler. After Boyle
and Newton, it was recognized by those who reflected seriously on the natural world that egocentric
views of world must be abandoned in favor of views based entirely on carefully gathered evidence and
sound reasoning.

Premise the human mind

Another significant contribution to critical thinking was made by the thinkers of the French
Enlightenment: Bayle, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Diderot. They all began with the premise that the
human mind, when disciplined by reason, is better able to figure out the nature of the social and
political world. What is more, for these thinkers, reason must turn inward upon itself, in order to
determine weaknesses and strengths of thought. They valued disciplined intellectual exchange, in
which all views had to be submitted to serious analysis and critique. They believed that all authority
must submit in one way or another to the scrutiny of reasonable critical questioning.

Eighteenth Century thinkers extended our conception of critical thought even further, developing our
sense of the power of critical thought and of its tools. Applied to the problem of economics, it produced
Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. In the same year, applied to the traditional concept of loyalty to the
king, it produced the Declaration of Independence. Applied to reason itself, it produced Kant’s Critique
of Pure Reason.

In the 19th Century, critical thought was extended even further into the domain of human social life by
Comte and Spencer. Applied to the problems of capitalism, it produced the searching social and
economic critique of Karl Marx. Applied to the history of human culture and the basis of biological life,
it led to Darwin’s Descent of Man. Applied to the unconscious mind, it is reflected in the works of
Sigmund Freud. Applied to cultures, it led to the establishment of the field of Anthropological studies.
Applied to language, it led to the field of Linguistics and to many deep probings of the functions of
symbols and language in human life.

In the 20th Century, our understanding of the power and nature of critical thinking has emerged in
increasingly more explicit formulations. In 1906, William Graham Sumner published a land-breaking
study of the foundations of sociology and anthropology,Folkways, in which he documented the
tendency of the human mind to think sociocentrically and the parallel tendency for schools to serve the
(uncritical) function of social indoctrination :

"Schools make persons all on one pattern, orthodoxy. School education, unless it is regulated by the
best knowledge and good sense, will produce men and women who are all of one pattern, as if turned
in a lathe. An orthodoxy is produced in regard to all the great doctrines of life. It consists of the most
worn and commonplace opinions which are common in the masses. The popular opinions always
contain broad fallacies, half-truths, and glib generalizations.

At the same time, Sumner recognized the deep need for critical thinking in life and in education:

"Criticism is the examination and test of propositions of any kind which are offered for acceptance, in
order to find out whether they correspond to reality or not. The critical faculty is a product of education
and training. It is a mental habit and power. It is a prime condition of human welfare that men and
women should be trained in it. It is our only guarantee against delusion, deception, superstition, and
misapprehension of ourselves and our earthly circumstances. Education is good just so far as it
produces well-developed critical faculty. A teacher of any subject who insists on accuracy and a
rational control of all processes and methods, and who holds everything open to unlimited verification
and revision, is cultivating that method as a habit in the pupils. Men educated in it cannot be
stampeded. They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees,
without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence. They can resist
appeals to their dearest prejudices. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can
be truly said that it makes good citizens.

John Dewey agreed. From his work, we have increased our sense of the pragmatic basis of human
thought (its instrumental nature), and especially its grounding in actual human purposes, goals, and
objectives. From the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein we have increased our awareness not only of the
importance of concepts in human thought, but also of the need to analyze concepts and assess their
power and limitations. From the work of Piaget, we have increased our awareness of the egocentric
and sociocentric tendencies of human thought and of the special need to develop critical thought which
is able to reason within multiple standpoints, and to be raised to the level of "conscious realization."
From the massive contribution of all the "hard" sciences, we have learned the power of information and
the importance of gathering information with great care and precision, and with sensitivity to its
potential inaccuracy, distortion, or misuse. From the contribution of depth-psychology, we have
learned how easily the human mind is self-deceived, how easily it unconsciously constructs illusions
and delusions, how easily it rationalizes and stereotypes, projects and scapegoats.

To sum up, the tools and resources of the critical thinker have been vastly increased in virtue of the
history of critical thought. Hundreds of thinkers have contributed to its development. Each major
discipline has made some contribution to critical thought. Yet for most educational purposes, it is the
summing up of base-line common denominators for critical thinking that is most important. Let us
consider now that summation.

Common Denominators of Critical Thinking

We now recognize that critical thinking, by its very nature, requires, for example, the systematic
monitoring of thought; that thinking, to be critical, must not be accepted at face value but must be
analyzed and assessed for its clarity, accuracy, relevance, depth, breadth, and logicalness. We now
recognize that critical thinking, by its very nature, requires, for example, the recognition that all
reasoning occurs within points of view and frames of reference; that all reasoning proceeds from some
goals and objectives, has an informational base; that all data when used in reasoning must be
interpreted, that interpretation involves concepts; that concepts entail assumptions, and that all basic
inferences in thought have implications. We now recognize that each of these dimensions of thinking
need to be monitored and that problems of thinking can occur in any of them.

The result of the collective contribution of the history of critical thought is that the basic questions of
Socrates can now be much more powerfully and focally framed and used. In every domain of human
thought, and within every use of reasoning within any domain, it is now possible to question:
 ends and objectives,
 the status and wording of questions,
 the sources of information and fact,
 the method and quality of information collection,
 the mode of judgment and reasoning used,
 the concepts that make that reasoning possible,
 the assumptions that underlie concepts in use,
 the implications that follow from their use, and
 the point of view or frame of reference within which reasoning takes place.

In other words, questioning that focuses on these fundamentals of thought and reasoning are now
baseline in critical thinking. It is beyond question that intellectual errors or mistakes can occur in any
of these dimensions, and that students need to be fluent in talking about these structures and

Independent of the subject studied, students need to be able to articulate thinking about thinking that
reflects basic command of the intellectual dimensions of thought: "Let’s see, what is the most
fundamental issue here? From what point of view should I approach this problem? Does it make sense
for me to assume this? From these data may I infer this? What is implied in this graph? What is the
fundamental concept here? Is this consistent with that? What makes this question complex? How could
I check the accuracy of these data? If this is so, what else is implied? Is this a credible source of
information? Etc." (For more information on the basic elements of thought and basic intellectual criteria
and standards.

As a result of the fact that students can learn these generalizable critical thinking moves, they need
not be taught history simply as a body of facts to memorize; they can now be taught history as
historical reasoning. Classes can be designed so that students learn to think historically and develop
skills and abilities essential to historical thought. Math can be taught so that the emphasis is on
mathematical reasoning. Students can learn to think geographically, economically, biologically,
chemically, in courses within these disciplines. In principle, then, all students can be taught so that
they learn how to bring the basic tools of disciplined reasoning into every subject they study.
Unfortunately, it is apparent, given the results of this study, that we are very far from this ideal state
of affairs. We now turn to the fundamental concepts and principles tested in standardized critical
thinking tests.

Q.2 Which critical theorist worked most closely on the issues of educational
discrimination? How do you see his/her theory applicable in Pakistan?

Just because things have always been viewed a certain way, doesn't mean that way is correct. In this
lesson, we'll explore critical theory and how teachers can open their classrooms up to offer everyone a
chance at success.

Critical Theory

Gina is in the sixth grade, and she's very excited to move to middle school. She wants to learn more
about science and math, and maybe invent some cool technology when she's a grown-up. But there's
an issue: Gina isn't from the best neighborhood. She's not white. And she's a woman. All three of
those things can impact her education and, as an extension, her future.

Critical theory is a philosophy that involves being critical of the prevailing view of society. In many
cases, that means looking closer at beliefs that might favor privileged people, like rich, white men,
over other people, like Gina.
Critical theory in education is about questioning how our educational system can best offer education
to all people. It offers opportunities and understanding of the different perspective of disadvantaged
members of society. For example, poor children, like Gina, often go to more poorly funded schools than
their middle- and upper-class counterparts. And less funding can mean issues like availability of
technology or good teachers.

Let's look at how critical theory plays out in education and what schools and teachers can do to be
inclusive of all types of students.


In today's world, technology is a major part of everyday life. From smartphones (or even plain old cell
phones) to computers to tablets, everyone seems to have lots of interaction with technology.

Except Gina, that is. She's in the sixth grade, and her parents can't afford a computer, so she doesn't
have one at home. They also can't afford to buy her a cell phone. Tablet? She's seen them advertised
on the television but never seen one in person. Technology is not only a major part of life for most
people, it is a big part of success in the business world. Most jobs require computer literacy, and many
of them require a basic understanding of smartphones and tablets, too. As an extension of that, most
schools have technology as part of their everyday activities. Whether it's typing an English paper on
the computer or using a tablet to work on a math app, technology seems ubiquitous in schools.

But there are problems with access to technology. Poorer schools can have a harder time getting
technology in the hands of their students. Remember that critical theory in education is about making
sure that every student gets a good education, so lack of technology in poorer schools can be a
problem that keeps everyone from getting a good education.

Advantages and disadvantages

Unfortunately, it's not just about whether or not schools have computers. Critical theory also
recognizes that people come into school with different advantages and disadvantages and focuses on
how to help every student achieve their potential. Take Gina, for example. She hasn't had access to
technology outside school, like many other students have. Her teachers don't understand why she has
trouble operating the computer or why she's so slow when she's typing. They sometimes get impatient,
and even the ones who aren't rude about it still don't give her enough time to do her work on the
computer. Like Gina, many poor students in America have lower technological fluency than middle- and
upper-class students. This springs from the fact that poorer students might not be exposed to
technology until much later than more well-off kids. While some children might play with computers or
smartphones when they are still potty training, others don't get to work on a computer until they are in
school. That puts them way behind their classmates!

Whilst most commonly linked to the original members and subsequent followers of the Frankfurt
School, the term critical theory has come to represent a range of evolving critical perspectives which
offer diverse meanings and interpretations. A number of authors presenting comprehensive reviews of
critical perspectives on education and technology (for example, Nicholls & Allen-Brown, 1996; Kellner,
2003) reference even broader scopes of critical literature which, whilst centred on the Frankfurt School
tradition, encompass a wide range of social, educational and critical theorists. These include critical
theories that are predominantly feminist, postmodernist, poststructuralist, deconstructionist, new
historicist, cultural materialist and postcolonialist in approach (Nicholls & Allen-Brown, 1996; Sim &
Van Loon, 2002). Critical theories generally share a social and cultural analysis with an activist
component based largely on the critique of oppressive and dominant economic and political forces,
they have a desire for social justice and equality, and a need to represent marginalized perspectives.
The term is also associated with the loosely connected though distinct field of literary criticism and
theorists such as Roland Barthes.

The Frankfurt School of critical theory is associated with a number of early neo-Marxist members of the
Institute for Social Research, founded in 1923. Prominent theorists have included Theodor Adorno,
Erich Fromm, Jürgen Habermas, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin and Herbert Marcuse, some of
which have written critically on education and technologies.

Ingram and Simon-Ingram (1991) describe early critical theory as a form of utopian philosophy rooted
in German idealism and cultural criticism combining Freudian and Marxist ideas. Critical theorists seek
to challenge and destabilize knowledge which is seen as definitive and unitary. Instead, knowledge is
seen as fundamentally pluralistic and incongruous, subject to multiple and sometimes contradictory
perspectives. They believe that knowledge (even the most scientific or technical) is historical and
broadly political in nature, shaped by human interests and motivations.

Habermas (1971), a ‘second generation’ theorist of the Frankfurt School, defines three forms of
interconnected knowledge:

 Instrumental knowledge corresponds to technical human interests that are associated with
work, labour or production
 Practical knowledge refers to interpretive ways of knowing through which everyday social
activities are given meaning
 Emancipatory knowledge is articulated in terms of power, control and emancipation

It is the latter of these which are most crucial to the critical theorist. In simple terms, critical theory
seeks not only to ‘critique’, but to generate emancipatory forms of knowledge to provide alternative
and progressive ways of looking at the world.

Critical theory forms of critique are founded on the critical philosophy of Kant, and subsequently Hegel
and Marx. Hegelian critique is characterised by challenging one-sided, idealist and reductivist positions.
In doing so it seeks to develop more holistic and complex dialectical perspectives that articulate
connections and contradictions in an attempt to conceptualize the totality of a given field. Critical
theory utilises these conflicting interests to develop ‘critical’ or ‘emancipatory’ knowledge consisting of
multiple, contradictory or opposed knowledge claims. Kellner (2003) suggests “a critical theory
signifies a way of seeing and conceptualizing, a constructing of categories, making connections,
mapping, and engaging in the practice of theory-construction, and relating theory to practice.”

Friesen (2008) describes the concepts of ideologies and myths:

Ideologies represent knowledge that is presented as self-evidently factual, purified, neutral or

objective. Ideologies are often closely associated with social, political and economic interests. Myths
emerge when ideological positions and arguments become integrated into common understanding and
discourse. Myths are frequently encapsulated in catchphrases or buzz-words or -phrases. Critical
theory challenges what is frequently taken for granted socially and culturally; asking questions of
things that are otherwise considered to be common sense or self-evident. With its roots in Hegel and
Marx, ‘ideology critique’ or ‘immanent critique’ “proceeds through forcing existing views to their
systematic conclusions, bringing them face to face with their incompleteness and contradictions, and,
ultimately, with the social conditions of their existence” (Young, 1990; 18). This is partly achieved
through the ‘historicizing’ or ‘denaturalizing’ of ideological claims; asserting the difference between that
which is claimed and that which is evident from historical and social references. Feenberg (2002) for
example, describes how critical theory can help recover ‘forgotten contexts’ to develop a historical
understanding of technology.

According to McCarthy (1991), suggests critical theory frequently emphasizes the practical over the
theoretical. In an attempt to establish an analytical framework, Friesen (2008) proposes a number of
key stages to adopting a critical approach:

 Identifying ideas or claims that are presented as obvious, inevitable, or matter-of-fact in

dominant bodies or sources of knowledge
 Scrutinizing these ideas or claims in the context provided in other more marginal knowledge
forms or sources
 Revealing through this scrutiny that behind dominant claims and ideas lay one or more
politically charged and often contradictory ways of understanding the issue or phenomenon in
 Using this underlying conflict as the basis for developing alternative forms of understanding and
point to concrete possibilities for action

2. Critical Perspectives on Education

Whilst relatively few educators and fewer still educational technologists have explored critical theory as
a primary approach of inquiry, critical perspectives are evident in a range of educational and related
disciplines such as critical pedagogy, curriculum studies, feminist pedagogies, media and
communications studies and critical sciences. These have, and continue to draw on critical perspectives
from classical philosophies of education, Deweyean pragmatism, poststructuralism, and various critical
theories of gender, race and class.

Kellner (2003) claims that a critical theory of education must be rooted in a critical theory of society,
and should be central to social critique and transformation. Therefore, as in all critical theory, a critical
theory of education should have a normative and even utopian dimension, dealing with issues of
democracy, equality and social justice (Nicholls & Allen-Brown, 1996). The application of critical theory
in education generally rejects idealist, elitist, and oppressive elements of pedagogy, frequently taking
the critical viewpoint that modern schooling is largely curriculum-driven and fragmented by discipline,
having abandoned older, traditional moral and ethical pedagogical practices. Nicholls and Allen-Brown
(1996) suggest critical theorists relate modern social crises, such as may be found in education, to
dominating ‘means-ends’ philosophies, that tend to be rational (i.e. scientific, analytical or
technological) and instrumental which, they argue, detract our attention from inherent moral
perspectives and social concerns.

In developing a critical theory of education, Kellner (2003) constructs a democratic and multicultural
reconstruction of education to meet the challenges of a global and technological society. His approach
is radically historicist, since social and economic conditions and educational needs are constantly
evolving; interdisciplinary, involving a critique of academic disciplines and their fragmentation; and
transdisciplinary in connecting multiple perspectives from different domains. He therefore proposes a
comprehensive ‘metatheory’ for the philosophy of education that draws from a range of historical

Classical Philosophies

Classical philosophies of education and society include the Greek Paideia; which saw education as a
cultural heritage in which to shape and form ‘fully-realized’ human beings.

German Bildung Tradition

A dialectical approach to an idealist notion of education

Marx and Engels

Systematic criticism of an established hegemonic discipline of bourgeois education and a call for
expanded public education for the working class.

John Dewey
Deweyean education is fundamentally experimental and pragmatic (theory should emerge from
practice), but is also based on progressive, egalitarian and democratic ideals.

Frankfurt School

Habermas states educational systems inhibit learners from reaching levels of maturity that foster
communicative, democratic, or responsible learning. Marcuse critiques education as a reproduction of
existing dominant and oppressive systems, and introduces alternative institutions and pedagogies to

Paulo Freire

The work of Paulo Freire, particularly in Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire, 1970), has been very
influential in the critical-education field. His work explores the development of learning processes
through critical, emancipatory and dialogical pedagogies, which reject dominant views and values, and
promote radical social transformation and empowerment.

Ivan Illich

Ivan illich (1970; 1973) gained international recognition writing about both education (Deschooling
Society) and technology (Tools for Conviviality); both of which have, in recent years, been noted as
being remarkably prescient of the internet, the emergence of social computing (Kop, 2008), and the
Open Source movement (Leadbeater, 2008). In Deschooling Society, Illich (1970) presents a
postindustrial alternative model of education within a broad social, political, economic and ecological

Allan and Carmen Luke

The Lukes argue that the majority of educational systems, curricula and pedagogies still in use were
designed for the production of an outmoded labour system that does not represent contemporary
economic, social, and cultural environments.


Poststructuralist theories “provide important tools for a critical theory of education in the present age”
(Kellner, 2003). They emphasize marginality, heterogeneity, and multiculturalism, and introduce
critical theories of gender, race, and sexuality.

Feminist theories of education draw upon classical feminism (for example, Mary Wollstonecraft) as well
as poststructuralist critique.

Q.3 Develop a classroom activity plan including teaching strategies for developing critical
thinking among students of elementary school level.

Role of the teacher

Feenberg (2002) believes the active involvement of the teacher is fundamental to the educational
process and that it should be ‘woven’ into the design of new tutor-facilitated learning technologies. He
emphasizes the complementarity of human and computer capabilities, suggesting that whilst learning
technologies may be suited to operational tasks, teachers are best suited at managing the complex and
unpredictable activities and communication process in the classroom.

E-learning literature increasingly perceives the role of the tutor as facilitator (Salmon, 2004), whilst in
a connectivist learning environment, it may become further marginalised or even obsolesced (Siemens,
2004). This emphasis on informal and autonomous learning and student engagement with experts
outside their formal educational institutions also recalls Illich’s (1970) community webs. Critical
educators such as Freire and Feenberg are critical of the diminishing of critical engagement by the
tutor and believe it is essential that teachers continue to have a directive role.

Friesen: e-Learning Myths

Friesen (2008) explores three myths pertinent to current e-learning literature:

 Knowledge Economy
 Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime Learning
 Technology drives Educational Change

Knowledge Economy

Friesen largely attributes the claims of a paradigmatic shift from an industrial to a postindustrial
economy – which has subsequently been referred to as knowledge, information and networked
economies – to neo-conservative Daniel Bell (1973). Bell’s idea of a radically new social, historical and
economic order centred on information or knowledge has had important social and political
consequences. Friesen argues that the concept of knowledge economy ‘papers over’ a polarized and
contested social reality, pointing out that the ‘knowledge economy class’ is far smaller than the
dominant sector of service industries (such as hospitality, health care and retail), whilst Kop (2006)
suggests technology has been too readily adopted by politicians to push for an economic discourse with
an agenda of up killing the workforce.

Critical Pedagogy of Teacher Education

The rapidly changing demographics of the classroom in the United States has resulted in an
unprecedented amount of linguistic and cultural diversity. In order to respond to these changes,
advocates of critical pedagogy call into question the focus on practical skills of teacher credential
programs. "This practical focus far too often occurs without examining teachers’ own assumptions,
values, and beliefs and how this ideological posture informs, often unconsciously, their perceptions and
actions when working with linguistic-minority and other politically, socially, and economically
subordinated students. As teaching is considered an inherently political act to the critical pedagogue, a
more critical element of teacher education becomes addressing Implicit biases (also known as Implicit
cognition or Implicit stereotype that can subconsciously affect a teacher's perception of a student's
ability to learn.

Advocates of critical pedagogy insist that Teachers, then, must become learners alongside their
students, as well as students of their students. They must become experts beyond their field of
knowledge, and immerse themselves in the culture, customs, and lived experiences of the students
they aim to teach. of knowledge that is not so translatable will be abandoned.

In conclusion, Friesen recommends educationalists and technologists “move beyond understandings of

knowledge and of its construction and reproduction as a ‘universal’ and ‘disinterested’ productive force
that is measured and valued only in terms of its performance.

Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime Learning

Freisen claims this myth of flexible learning presents ‘reductive’ conceptions of identity, time and place
based on economic consumption and production. The intra- and inter-national ‘digital divides’ that exist
between students continue to be shaped by socio-economic determinants beyond their control and
these are explored and debated extensively in the wider social and educational literature. Within a
more autonomous or connectivist learning model (Siemens, 2004), Green and Hannon (2007) suggest
a digital divide may be determined more by networks of knowledge rather than access to hardware.
McLaren (1994) warns that the technologizing of learning, in which students develop mechanistic
cognitive styles, is an emphasis on practical and technical forms of knowledge, and that this too can
perpetuate social inequality.

In addition, whilst literature on the educational potential of blogs, e-portfolios and other social
technologies frequently emphasize how they allow the user to construct online or virtual identities,
Nakamura (2002; 3) insists the internet "propagates, disseminates, and commodifies images of race
and racism." Friesen concurs, suggesting ‘anyone, anywhere, anytime’ learning invokes not only a
default time and place, but also a default person – which is based on an identity that is predominantly
western, male and white.

Student Resistance to Critical Pedagogy

Students sometimes resist critical pedagogy. Student resistance to critical pedagogy can be attributed
to a variety of reasons. Student objections may be due to ideological reasons, religious or moral
convictions, fear of criticism, or discomfort with controversial issues. Kristen Seas argues "Resistance
in this context thus occurs when students are asked to shift not only their perspectives, but also their
subjectivities as they accept or reject assumptions that contribute to the pedagogical arguments being
constructed. Karen Kopelson asserts that resistance to new information or ideologies, introduced in the
classroom, is a natural response to persuasive messages that are unfamiliar.

Resistance is often, at the least, understandably protective: As anyone who can remember her or his
own first uneasy encounters with particularly challenging new theories or theorists can attest,
resistance serves to shield us from uncomfortable shifts or all-out upheavals in perception and
understanding-shifts in perception which, if honored, force us to inhabit the world in fundamentally
new and different ways.

Kristen Seas further explains “Students [often] reject the teacher's message because they see it as
coercive, they do not agree with it, or they feel excluded by it.” Karen Kopelson concludes “that many
if not most students come to the university in order to gain access to and eventual enfranchisement in
'the establishment,' not to critique and reject its privileges. To overcome student resistance to critical
pedagogy, teachers must enact strategic measures to help their students negotiate controversial

In the Classroom

As mentioned briefly in the above, Ira Shor, a professor at the City University of New York, provides for
an example of how critical pedagogy is used in the classroom. He develops these themes in looking at
the use of Freirean teaching methods in the context of the everyday life of classrooms, in particular,
institutional settings. He suggests that the whole curriculum of the classroom must be re-examined
and reconstructed. He favors a change of role of the student from object to active, critical subject. In
doing so, he suggests that students undergo a struggle for ownership of themselves. He states that
students have previously been lulled into a sense of complacency by the circumstances of everyday life
and that through the processes of the classroom, they can begin to envision and strive for something
different for themselves.

Of course, achieving such a goal is not automatic nor easy, as he suggests that the role of the teacher
is critical to this process. Students need to be helped by teachers to separate themselves from
unconditional acceptance of the conditions of their own existence. Once this separation is achieved,
then students may be prepared for critical re-entry into an examination of everyday life. In a classroom
environment that achieves such liberating intent, one of the potential outcomes is that the students
themselves assume more responsibility for the class. Power is thus distributed amongst the group and
the role of the teacher becomes much more mobile, not to mention more challenging. This encourages
the growth of each student’s intellectual character rather than a mere “mimicry of the professorial
style. Teachers, however, do not simply abdicate their authority in a student-centred classroom. In the
later years of his life, Freire grew increasingly concerned with what he felt was a major
misinterpretation of his work and insisted that teachers cannot deny their position of authority. Critical
teachers, therefore, must admit that they are in a position of authority and then demonstrate that
authority in their actions in supports of students. teachers relinquish the authority of truth providers,
they assume the mature authority of facilitators of student inquiry and problem-solving. In relation to
such teacher authority, students gain their freedom--they gain the ability to become self-directed
human beings capable of producing their own knowledge.

Q.4 Write down a reflective essay on the schooling of children coming from low socio
economic background.

Socioeconomic status (SES) is often measured as a combination of education, income and occupation.
It is commonly conceptualized as the social standing or class of an individual or group. When viewed
through a social class lens, privilege, power, and control are emphasized. Furthermore, an examination
of SES as a gradient or continuous variable reveals inequities in access to and distribution of resources.
SES is relevant to all realms of behavioral and social science, including research, practice, education
and advocacy.

SES Affects Our Society

Low SES and its correlates, such as lower education, poverty and poor health, ultimately affect our
society as a whole. Inequities in wealth distribution, resource distribution and quality of life are
increasing in the United States and globally. Society benefits from an increased focus on the
foundations of socioeconomic inequities and efforts to reduce the deep gaps in socioeconomic status in
the United States and abroad. Behavioral and other social science professionals possess the tools
necessary to study and identify strategies that could alleviate these disparities at both individual and
societal levels.

SES and Educational Issues

Research indicates that children from low-SES households and communities develop academic skills
more slowly compared to children from higher SES groups (Morgan, Farkas, Hillemeier, & Maczuga,
2009). Initial academic skills are correlated with the home environment, where low literacy
environments and chronic stress negatively affect a child’s preacademic skills. The school systems in
low-SES communities are often underresourced, negatively affecting students’ academic progress
(Aikens & Barbarin, 2008). Inadequate education and increased dropout rates affect children’s
academic achievement, perpetuating the low-SES status of the community. Improving school systems

and early intervention programs may help to reduce these risk factors, and thus increased research on
the correlation between SES and education is essential.

SES and Family Resources

Families from low-SES communities are less likely to have the financial resources or time availability to
provide children with academic support.
 Children’s initial reading competence is correlated with the home literacy environment, number
of books owned and parent distress. However, parents from low-SES communities may be unable to
afford resources such as books, computers, or tutors to create this positive literacy environment (Orr,
 In a nationwide study of American kindergarten children, 36 percent of parents in the lowest-
income quintile read to their children on a daily basis, compared with 62 percent of parents from the
highest-income quintile (Coley, 2002).
 When enrolled in a program that encouraged adult support, students from low-SES groups
reported higher levels of effort towards academics.

SES and the School Environment

Research indicates that school conditions contribute more to SES differences in learning rates than
family characteristics.

 Schools in low-SES communities suffer from high levels of unemployment, migration of the best
qualified teachers and low educational achievement (Muijs, Harris, Chapman, Stoll, & Russ,
 A teacher’s years of experience and quality of training is correlated with children’s academic
achievement (Gimbert, Bol, & Wallace, 2007). Yet, children in low income schools are less likely
to have well-qualified teachers. In fact, of high school math teachers in lowincome school
districts 27 percent majored in mathematics in college as compared to 43 percent of teachers
who did so in more affluent school districts (Ingersoll, 1999).
 The following factors have been found to improve the quality of schools in low-SES
neighborhoods: a focus on improving teaching and learning, creation of an information-rich
environment, building of a learning community, continuous professional development,
involvement of parents and increased funding and resources.

SES and Academic Achievement

Research continues to link lower SES to lower academic achievement and slower rates of academic
progress as compared with higher SES communities.

 Children from low-SES environments acquire language skills more slowly, exhibit delayed letter
recognition and phonological awareness, and are at risk for reading difficulties (Aikens &
Barbarin, 2008).
 Children with higher SES backgrounds were more likely to be proficient on tasks of addition,
subtraction, ordinal sequencing and math word problems than children with lower SES
 Students from low-SES schools entered high school 3.3 grade levels behind students from
higher SES schools. In addition, students from the low-SES groups learned less over 4 years
than children from higher SES groups, graduating 4.3 grade levels behind those of higher SES
 In 2007, the high school dropout rate among persons 16-24 years old was highest in low-
income families (16.7 percent) as compared to high-income families (3.2 percent) (National
Center for Education Statistics, 2008).

Psychological Health

Increasing evidence supports the link between lower SES and learning disabilities or other negative
psychological outcomes that affect academic achievement.
 Children from lower SES households are about twice as likely as those from high-SES
households to display learning-related behavior problems. A mother’s SES was also related to
her child’s inattention, disinterest, and lack of cooperation in school.

 Identifying as part of a lower/working class in college has been associated with feelings of not
belonging in school and intentions to drop out of school before graduation.
 Perception of family economic stress and personal financial constraints affected emotional
distress/depression in students and their academic outcomes.
 What You Can Do

Include SES in Your Research, Practice and Educational Endeavors

 Measure, report and control for SES in research activities related to education support and
academic achievement.
 Take SES into consideration in all published work. Report participant characteristics related to
 Contribute to the body of research on the educational and societal barriers experienced by
students from low- SES communities and the impact of these barriers on academic achievement
and psychological well-being.
 Establish practice opportunities in community settings where students have access to diverse
social class populations.

Q.5 Observe a classroom in a school and write down your reflective essay according to
Gibbs’ cycle of reflective writing.

There are three examples of models of reflection, theses models are:

Gibbs Reflection Cycle (1988): this encourages a clear description of the situation, analysis of feeling,
evaluation of the experience, and analysis to make sense of the experience to examine what you would
do if the situation arose again (Gibbs 1988).

John’s Model for structured Refection (2000): this can be used as a guide for analysis of a critical
incident or general reflection on experience. John supports the need for the learner to work with a
supervisor throughout the experience. He recommends that the students uses a structures diary. He
advises to look in on the situation, which would include focusing on yourself and paying attention to
your thoughts and emotions. He then advises to look out of the situation and write a description of the
situation around your thoughts and feeling. What you are trying to achieve, why you responded in the
way you did, how others were feeling, did you act in the best way, ethical concepts etc. He also
considers the use of internal factors, such as expectations from others, time factors, normal practice,
anxiety of the situation etc. Rolfe’s Framework for Reflective Practice: he uses three simple questions
to reflect on a situation: ‘What, so what, and now what?’ Rolfe considers the final stage as the one that
can make the greatest contribution to practice (Rolfe et al 2001)

Gibbs’ reflective cycle is really useful in making me think through all the phases of an experience or
activity during the PGCAP course.

Diagram (1) shows the reflective cycle (Gibbs 1988)

 Designing learning materials which can u

 pdated for different style of learners.
 Know the new techniques in teaching.
 And I need to know more about:

 Raising my awareness of the using of the IT in learning and how to encourage learners who
don’t like to use IT to easily use it.
 Teaching techniques which help me in delivering the knowledge required for the learners.
 Accredited and Non-Accredited provision in courses.
 Quality in teaching and learning process including quality in designing learning material, needs
assessment, delivering and evaluation of the course.

Coaching and supervision students

Reflective Practice is a modern term, and an evolving framework, for an ancient method of self-

Essentially Reflective Practice is a method of assessing our own thoughts and actions, for the
purpose of personal learning and development.

For many people this is a natural and instinctive activity.

We can use Reflective Practice for our own development and/or to help others develop.

Reflective Practice is a very adaptable process. It is a set of ideas that can be used alongside many
other concepts for training, learning, personal development, and self-improvement.

For example, Reflective Practice is highly relevant and helpful towards Continuous Professional
Development (CPD). It's also very helpful in teaching and developing young people and children.

Reflective Practice is mainly concerned with self-development. It enables:

 future personal growth, and addresses

 how we think and feel about ourselves and situations in the present, and
 how we think and feel about ourselves and situations in the past.

As such, Reflective Practice is a valuable methodology for:

 using insights and learning from our past,

 to assess where we are now,
 to improve our present and future.

This offers benefits far beyond professional learning and development, for example extending to, and
not limited to:

 human relationships - workplace, romance, parenting, etc

 rehabilitation
 reconciliation
 mediation
 stress-reduction and management
 all sorts of teaching, training, coaching, counselling, etc
 parenting
 and coping with change and trauma

Reflective Practice is essentially a very old and flexible concept, so it might be called other things.

This alternative terminology, which includes some familiar words, can help us to understand and
explain its principles and scope.

For example, Reflective Practice might also be called, and is synonymous with or similar to:

 personal reflection
 self-review
 self-awareness
 self-criticism or self-critique
 self-appraisal
 self-assessment
 intra-personal awareness
 personal cognisance/cognizance
 reflective dialogue
 critical evaluation
 self-analysis of our thoughts, feelings, actions, performance, etc

Increasingly these principles, terminology, and underpinning theory are defined and conveyed within
the term 'Reflective Practice' and its supporting framework of terminology and application.

As such, 'Reflective Practice' is a theory by which modern and traditional self-improvement ideas can
be more clearly defined, refined, expanded, adapted, taught, adopted and applied, for the purposes of
personal development, teaching and coaching, and wider organizational improvement.

Reflective Practice is also helpful for personal fulfilment (US-English fulfillment) and happiness, in the
sense that we can see and understand ourselves more objectively.

Reflective Practice enables clearer thinking, and reduces our tendencies towards emotional bias.

So we are considering a fundamental human concept.

Incidentally, the term 'Reflective Practice' is generally shown here with capitalized initial letters. This is
for clarity and style - the term can be shown equally correctly as 'reflective practice', or 'Reflective

The capitalization also differentiates the term Reflective Practice from other general uses of the word
'practice' in referring to a person's work or practical things, which are clarified as such throughout this

The alternative spelling of 'practise' is not used here because traditionally this spelling refers to the
verb form of the word, whereas Reflective Practice is a noun, (just as 'advice' is a noun and 'advise' is
a verb).

Let's look now at some formal and technical definitions of Reflective Practice.

Reflective practice definitions and related terms

As with any theoretical concept, definitions of Reflective Practice convey a basic technical description of
the subject.

Definitions alone do not fully explain how and why something operates, nor teach us how to use it.

Definitions do however provide a useful basis for comprehension, and consistent terminology for
discussion, especially for a subject open to quite different interpretations.

Definitions also help establish firm meanings, for sharing ideas, adopting the methods, and
understanding of how Reflective Practice can be used, alongside other developmental methodologies.

Reflective Practice is an ancient concept. Over 2,500 years ago the ancient Greeks practised 'reflection'
as a form of contemplation in search of truth, and this ancient meaning of reflection features in several
modern definitions. There are references also to the power of reflective learning in the writings
attributed to ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, around 460BC.

The following various definitions convey their own distinct meanings, and also assist the reader in
developing a quick general appreciation of Reflective Practice as a whole. The definitions are not in
alphabetical order - they are ordered more in a historical sense, roughly according to the evolution of
the terminology/concepts concerned.