Critical thinking is the objective analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex, and there are several different definitions which generally include the rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis or evaluation of factual evidence.
Critical thinking was described by Richard W. Paul as a movement in two waves (1994). The "first wave" of critical thinking is often referred to as a 'critical analysis' that is clear, rational thinking involving critique. Its details vary amongst those who define it. According to Barry K. Beyer (1995), critical thinking means making clear, reasoned judgments. During the process of critical thinking, ideas should be reasoned, well thought out, and judged. The U.S. National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as the "intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action."
In the term critical thinking, the word critical, (Grk. κριτικός = kritikos = "critic") derives from the word critic and implies a critique; it identifies the intellectual capacity and the means "of judging", "of judgement", "for judging", and of being "able to discern".
Traditionally, critical thinking has been variously defined as:
- "the process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion"
- "disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence"
- "reasonable, reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do"
- "purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based"
- "includes a commitment to using reason in the formulation of our beliefs"
- the skill and propensity to engage in an activity with reflective scepticism (McPeck, 1981)
- disciplined, self-directed thinking which exemplifies the perfection of thinking appropriate to a particular mode or domain of thinking (Paul, 1989, p. 214)
- thinking about one's thinking in a manner designed to organize and clarify, raise the efficiency of, and recognize errors and biases in one's own thinking. Critical thinking is not 'hard' thinking nor is it directed at solving problems (other than 'improving' one's own thinking). Critical thinking is inward-directed with the intent of maximizing the rationality of the thinker. One does not use critical thinking to solve problems—one uses critical thinking to improve one's process of thinking.
- "an appraisal based on careful analytical evaluation"
- the ability to think clearly about what to do or what to believe.
Contemporary critical thinking scholars have expanded these traditional definitions to include qualities, concepts, and processes such as creativity, imagination, discovery, reflection, empathy, connecting knowing, feminist theory, subjectivity, ambiguity, and inconclusiveness. Some definitions of critical thinking exclude these subjective practices.
Logic and rationality
Main article: Logic and rationality
The ability to reason logically is a fundamental skill of rational agents, hence the study of the form of correct argumentation is relevant to the study of critical thinking.
"First wave" logical thinking consisted of understanding the connections between two concepts or points in thought. It followed a philosophy where the thinker was removed from the train of thought and the connections and the analysis of the connect was devoid of any bias of the thinker. Kerry Walters describes this ideology in his essay Beyond Logicism in Critical Thinking, "A logistic approach to critical thinking conveys the message to students that thinking is legitimate only when it conforms to the procedures of informal (and, to a lesser extent, formal) logic and that the good thinker necessarily aims for styles of examination and appraisal that are analytical, abstract, universal, and objective. This model of thinking has become so entrenched in conventional academic wisdom that many educators accept it as canon" (Walters, 1994, p. 1). The adoption of these principals parallel themselves with the increasing reliance on quantitative understanding of the world.
In the ‘second wave’ of critical thinking, as defined by Kerry S. Walters (Re-thinking Reason, 1994, p. 1 ), many authors moved away from the logocentric mode of critical thinking that the ‘first wave’ privileged, especially in institutions of higher learning. Walters summarizes logicism as "the unwarranted assumption that good thinking is reducible to logical thinking" (1994, p. 1).
"A logistic approach to critical thinking conveys the message to students that thinking is legitimate only when it conforms to the procedures of informal (and, to a lesser extent, formal) logic and that the good thinker necessarily aims for styles of examination and appraisal that are analytical, abstract, universal, and objective." (Walters, 1994, p. 1) As the ‘second wave’ took hold, scholars began to take a more inclusive view of what constituted as critical thinking. Rationality and logic are still widely accepted in many circles as the primary examples of critical thinking.
Deduction, Abduction and Induction
Main article: logical reasoning
There are three types of logical reasoning Informally, two kinds of logical reasoning can be distinguished in addition to formal deduction: induction and abduction.e.g. X is human and all humans have a face so X has a face.
- Induction is drawing a conclusion from a pattern that is guaranteed by the strictness of the structure to which it applies.
- Abduction is drawing a conclusion using a heuristic which is likely but not certain given some foreknowledge.
Critical thinking and rationality
Kerry S. Walters (Re-thinking Reason, 1994) argues that rationality demands more than just logical or traditional methods of problem solving and analysis or what he calls the "calculus of justification" but also considers "cognitive acts such as imagination, conceptual creativity, intuition and insight" (p. 63). These "functions" are focused on discovery, on more abstract processes instead of linear, rules-based approaches to problem solving. The linear and non-sequential mind must both be engaged in the rationalmind.
The ability to critically analyze an argument – to dissect structure and components, thesis and reasons – is important. But so is the ability to be flexible and consider non-traditional alternatives and perspectives. These complementary functions are what allow for critical thinking a practice encompassing imagination and intuition in cooperation with traditional modes of deductive inquiry.
The list of core critical thinking skills includes observation, interpretation, analysis, inference, evaluation, explanation, and metacognition. According to Reynolds (2011), an individual or group engaged in a strong way of critical thinking gives due consideration to establish for instance:
- Evidence through reality
- Context skills to isolate the problem from context
- Relevant criteria for making the judgment well
- Applicable methods or techniques for forming the judgment
- Applicable theoretical constructs for understanding the problem and the question at hand
In addition to possessing strong critical-thinking skills, one must be disposed to engage problems and decisions using those skills. Critical thinking employs not only logic but broad intellectual criteria such as clarity, credibility, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance, and fairness.
Critical thinking calls for the ability to:
- Recognize problems, to find workable means for meeting those problems
- Understand the importance of prioritization and order of precedence in problem solving
- Gather and marshal pertinent (relevant) information
- Recognize unstated assumptions and values
- Comprehend and use language with accuracy, clarity, and discernment
- Interpret data, to appraise evidence and evaluate arguments
- Recognize the existence (or non-existence) of logical relationships between propositions
- Draw warranted conclusions and generalizations
- Put to test the conclusions and generalizations at which one arrives
- Reconstruct one's patterns of beliefs on the basis of wider experience
- Render accurate judgments about specific things and qualities in everyday life
"A persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports or refutes it and the further conclusions to which it tends."
Habits or traits of mind
The habits of mind that characterize a person strongly disposed toward critical thinking include a desire to follow reason and evidence wherever they may lead, a systematic approach to problem solving, inquisitiveness, even-handedness, and confidence in reasoning.
According to a definition analysis by Kompf & Bond (2001), critical thinking involves problem solving, decision making, metacognition, rationality, rational thinking, reasoning, knowledge, intelligence and also a moral component such as reflective thinking. Critical thinkers therefore need to have reached a level of maturity in their development, possess a certain attitude as well as a set of taught skills.
Edward M. Glaser proposed that the ability to think critically involves three elements:
- An attitude of being disposed to consider in a thoughtful way the problems and subjects that come within the range of one's experiences
- Knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning
- Some skill in applying those methods.
Educational programs aimed at developing critical thinking in children and adult learners, individually or in group problem solving and decision making contexts, continue to address these same three central elements.
The Critical Thinking project at Human Science Lab, London, is involved in scientific study of all major educational system in prevalence today to assess how the systems are working to promote or impede critical thinking.
Contemporary cognitive psychology regards human reasoning as a complex process that is both reactive and reflective.
The relationship between critical thinking skills and critical thinking dispositions is an empirical question. Some people have both in abundance, some have skills but not the disposition to use them, some are disposed but lack strong skills, and some have neither. A measure of critical thinking dispositions is the California Measure of Mental Motivation and the California Critical Thinking Dispositions Inventory.
John Dewey is one of many educational leaders who recognized that a curriculum aimed at building thinking skills would benefit the individual learner, the community, and the entire democracy.
Critical thinking is significant in academics due to being significant in learning. Critical thinking is significant in the learning process of internalization, in the construction of basic ideas, principles, and theories inherent in content. And critical thinking is significant in the learning process of application, whereby those ideas, principles, and theories are implemented effectively as they become relevant in learners' lives.
Each discipline adapts its use of critical thinking concepts and principles. The core concepts are always there, but they are embedded in subject-specific content. For students to learn content, intellectual engagement is crucial. All students must do their own thinking, their own construction of knowledge. Good teachers recognize this and therefore focus on the questions, readings, activities that stimulate the mind to take ownership of key concepts and principles underlying the subject.
Historically, teaching of critical thinking focused only on logical procedures such as formal and informal logic. This emphasized to students that good thinking is equivalent to logical thinking. However, a second wave of critical thinking, urges educators to value conventional techniques, meanwhile expanding what it means to be a critical thinker. In 1994, Kerry Walters compiled a conglomeration of sources surpassing this logical restriction to include many different authors’ research regarding connected knowing, empathy, gender-sensitive ideals, collaboration, world views, intellectual autonomy, morality and enlightenment. These concepts invite students to incorporate their own perspectives and experiences into their thinking.
In the English and Welsh school systems, Critical Thinking is offered as a subject that 16- to 18-year-olds can take as an A-Level. Under the OCRexam board, students can sit two exam papers for the AS: "Credibility of Evidence" and "Assessing and Developing Argument". The full Advanced GCE is now available: in addition to the two AS units, candidates sit the two papers "Resolution of Dilemmas" and "Critical Reasoning". The A-level tests candidates on their ability to think critically about, and analyze, arguments on their deductive or inductive validity, as well as producing their own arguments. It also tests their ability to analyze certain related topics such as credibility and ethical decision-making. However, due to its comparative lack of subject content, many universities do not accept it as a main A-level for admissions. Nevertheless, the AS is often useful in developing reasoning skills, and the full Advanced GCE is useful for degree courses in politics, philosophy, history or theology, providing the skills required for critical analysis that are useful, for example, in biblical study.
There used to also be an Advanced Extension Award offered in Critical Thinking in the UK, open to any A-level student regardless of whether they have the Critical Thinking A-level. Cambridge International Examinations have an A-level in Thinking Skills.
From 2008, Assessment and Qualifications Alliance has also been offering an A-level Critical Thinking specification.
OCRexam board have also modified theirs for 2008. Many examinations for university entrance set by universities, on top of A-level examinations, also include a critical thinking component, such as the LNAT, the UKCAT, the BioMedical Admissions Test and the Thinking Skills Assessment.
In Qatar, critical thinking was offered by AL-Bairaq which is an outreach, non-traditional educational program that targets high school students and focuses on a curriculum based on STEM fields. The idea behind AL-Bairaq is to offer high school students the opportunity to connect with the research environment in the Center for Advanced Materials (CAM) at Qatar University. Faculty members train and mentor the students and help develop and enhance their critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.[not in citation given]
In 1995, a meta-analysis of the literature on teaching effectiveness in higher education was undertaken. The study noted concerns from higher education, politicians and business that higher education was failing to meet society's requirements for well-educated citizens. It concluded that although faculty may aspire to develop students' thinking skills, in practice they have tended to aim at facts and concepts utilizing lowest levels of cognition, rather than developing intellect or values.
In a more recent meta-analysis, researchers reviewed 341 quasi- or true-experimental studies, all of which used some form of standardized critical thinking measure to assess the outcome variable. The authors describe the various methodological approaches and attempt to categorize the differing assessment tools, which include standardized tests (and second-source measures), tests developed by teachers, tests developed by researchers, and tests developed by teachers who also serve the role as the researcher. The results emphasized the need for exposing students to real-world problems and the importance in encouraging open dialogue within a supportive environment. Effective strategies for teaching critical thinking are thought to be possible in a wide variety of educational settings.
Importance in academia
Critical thinking is an important element of all professional fields and academic disciplines (by referencing their respective sets of permissible questions, evidence sources, criteria, etc.). Within the framework of scientific skepticism, the process of critical thinking involves the careful acquisition and interpretation of information and use of it to reach a well-justified conclusion. The concepts and principles of critical thinking can be applied to any context or case but only by reflecting upon the nature of that application. Critical thinking forms, therefore, a system of related, and overlapping, modes of thought such as anthropological thinking, sociological thinking, historical thinking, political thinking, psychological thinking, philosophical thinking, mathematical thinking, chemical thinking, biological thinking, ecological thinking, legal thinking, ethical thinking, musical thinking, thinking like a painter, sculptor, engineer, business person, etc. In other words, though critical thinking principles are universal, their application to disciplines requires a process of reflective contextualization.
 However, even with knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning, mistakes can happen due to a thinker's inability to apply the methods or because of character traits such as egocentrism. Critical thinking includes identification of prejudice, bias, propaganda, self-deception, distortion, misinformation, etc. Given research in cognitive psychology, some educators believe that schools should focus on teaching their students critical thinking skills and cultivation of intellectual traits.
Critical thinking skills can be used to help nurses during the assessment process. Through the use of critical thinking, nurses can question, evaluate, and reconstruct the nursing care process by challenging the established theory and practice. Critical thinking skills can help nurses problem solve, reflect, and make a conclusive decision about the current situation they face. Critical thinking creates "new possibilities for the development of the nursing knowledge." Due to the sociocultural, environmental, and political issues that are affecting healthcare delivery, it would be helpful to embody new techniques in nursing. Nurses can also engage their critical thinking skills through the Socratic method of dialogue and reflection. This practice standard is even part of some regulatory organizations such as the College of Nurses of Ontario – Professional Standards for Continuing Competencies (2006). It requires nurses to engage in Reflective Practice and keep records of this continued professional development for possible review by the College.
Critical thinking is also considered important for human rights education for toleration. The Declaration of Principles on Tolerance adopted by UNESCO in 1995 affirms that "education for tolerance could aim at countering factors that lead to fear and exclusion of others, and could help young people to develop capacities for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning."
Critical thinking is used as a way of deciding whether a claim is true, partially true, or false. It is a tool by which one can come about reasoned conclusions based on a reasoned process.
Critical thinking in computer-mediated communication
The advent and rising popularity of online courses has prompted some to ask if computer-mediated communication (CMC) promotes, hinders, or has no effect on the amount and quality of critical thinking in a course (relative to face-to-face communication). There is some evidence to suggest a fourth, more nuanced possibility: that CMC may promote some aspects of critical thinking but hinder others. For example, Guiller et al. (2008) found that, relative to face-to-face discourse, online discourse featured more justifications, while face-to-face discourse featured more instances of students expanding on what others had said. The increase in justifications may be due to the asynchronous nature of online discussions, while the increase in expanding comments may be due to the spontaneity of ‘real time’ discussion. Newman et al. (1995) showed similar differential effects. They found that while CMC boasted more important statements and linking of ideas, it lacked novelty. The authors suggest that this may be due to difficulties participating in a brainstorming-style activity in an asynchronous environment. Rather, the asynchrony may promote users to put forth “considered, thought out contributions.”
Researchers assessing critical thinking in online discussion forums often employ a technique called Content Analysis, where the text of online discourse (or the transcription of face-to-face discourse) is systematically coded for different kinds of statements relating to critical thinking. For example, a statement might be coded as “Discuss ambiguities to clear them up” or “Welcoming outside knowledge” as positive indicators of critical thinking. Conversely, statements reflecting poor critical thinking may be labeled as “Sticking to prejudice or assumptions” or “Squashing attempts to bring in outside knowledge.” The frequency of these codes in CMC and face-to-face discourse can be compared to draw conclusions about the quality of critical thinking.
Searching for evidence of critical thinking in discourse has roots in a definition of critical thinking put forth by Kuhn (1991), which places more emphasis on the social nature of discussion and knowledge construction. There is limited research on the role of social experience in critical thinking development, but there is some evidence to suggest it is an important factor. For example, research has shown that 3- to 4-year-old children can discern, to some extent, the differential creditability and expertise of individuals. Further evidence for the impact of social experience on the development of critical thinking skills comes from work that found that 6- to 7-year-olds from China have similar levels of skepticism to 10- and 11-year-olds in the United States. If the development of critical thinking skills was solely due to maturation, it is unlikely we would see such dramatic differences across cultures.
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- ^Critical thinking is considered important in the academic fields because it enables one to analyze, evaluate, explain, and restructure their thinking, thereby decreasing the risk of adopting, acting on, or thinking with, a false belief.
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Critical literacy is defined as the ability to take apart various texts in media or writing to find any possible discrimination that the author might have embedded in his or her presentation of the world since authors have social and political influence. This is done by analyzing the messages promoting prejudiced power relationships found naturally in media and written material that go unnoticed otherwise by reading beyond the author’s words and examining the manner in which the author has conveyed his or her ideas about society’s norms to determine whether these ideas contain racial or gender inequality.
Critical literacy is an instructional approach, stemming from Marxist critical pedagogy, that advocates the adoption of "critical" perspectives toward text. Critical literacy encourages readers to actively analyze texts and offers strategies for what proponents describe as uncovering underlying messages. There are several different theoretical perspectives on critical literacy that have produced different pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning. All of these approaches share the basic premise that literacy requires the literate consumers of text to adopt a critical and questioning approach.
When students examine the writer’s message for bias, they are practicing critical literacy. This skill of actively engaging with the text can be used to help students become more perceptive and societally aware citizens who do not receive the messages around them from media, books, and images without first taking apart the text and relating its messages back to their own personal life experiences. Thus by getting students to question the power structures in their society, critical literacy teaches them how to dispute these written and oral views regarding issues of equality so that they may combat the social injustices against marginalized groups in their communities.
According to proponents of critical literacy, the practice is not simply a means of attaining literacy in the sense of improving the ability to decode words, syntax, etc. In fact, the ability to read words on paper is not necessarily required in order to engage in a critical discussion of "texts," which can include television, movies, web pages, music, art and other means of expression. The important thing is being able to have a discussion with others about the different meanings a text might have and teaching the potentially critically literate learner how to think flexibly about it.
Critical literacy has become a popular approach to teaching English to students in some English speaking-countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.
For post-structuralist practitioners of critical literacy, the definition of this literacy practice can be quite malleable, but usually involves a search for discourses and reasons why certain discourses are included or left out of a text.
Two major theoretical perspectives within the field of critical literacy are the Neo-Marxist/Freirean and the Australian. These approaches overlap in many ways and they do not necessarily represent competing views, but they do approach the subject matter differently.
Relationship to critical thinking
While critical literacy and critical thinking involve similar steps and may overlap, they are not interchangeable. Critical thinking is done when one troubleshoots problems and solves them through a process involving logic and mental analysis. This is because critical thinking focuses on ensuring that one’s arguments are sufficiently supported by evidence and void of unclear or deceptive presentation. Thus, critical thinking attempts to understand the outside world and recognize that there are other arguments beyond one’s own by evaluating their reasoning for such arguments, but critical thinking does not go further beyond revealing a loaded claim.
To make sense of the biases embedded within these claims first uncovered by critical thinking, critical literacy goes beyond identifying the problem to also analyzing the power dynamics that create the written or oral texts of society and then questioning their claims. Therefore, critical literacy examines the language and wording of politics within these texts and how politics uses certain aspects of grammar to convey its intended meaning. Practicing critical literacy lets students challenge both the author of the text in addition to the social and historical contexts in which the text was produced.
In addition to print sources, critical literacy also evaluates media and technology by looking at who owns these forms of information as well as to whom they are writing and their goal in creating these various texts. Students will look at the underlying information being communicated in literature, popular and online media, and journalism in the hopes of taking social action.
Critical literacy practices grew out of the social justice pedagogy of Brazilian educator and theorist Paulo Freire, as first described in Education as the Practice of Freedom published in 1967 and his most famous book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, published in 1968. Freirean critical literacy is conceived as a means of empowering disempowered populations against oppression and coercion, frequently seen as enacted by corporate and/or government entities. Freirean critical literacy starts with the desire to balance social inequities and address societal problems caused by abuse of power. It proceeds from this philosophical basis to examine, analyze, and deconstruct texts.
Critical literacy was later established more prominently with Donaldo Macedo in 1987. In his 1968 book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire writes that individuals who are oppressed by those in positions of power are initially afraid to have freedom since they have internalized the rules of their oppressors and the consequences of not abiding by these rules. Thus, despite their internal desire for freedom, they continue to live in what Freire calls the “fear of freedom,” instead choosing to follow a pre-set prescription of behaviors that meet their oppressors’ approval. In order to understand the actual nature of their oppression, however, Freire states that their education must teach them to understand that their reality can be changed and with it, their oppression.
This perspective is reflected in the works of Peter McLaren, Henry Giroux, and Jean Anyon, among many others. The Freirean perspective on critical literacy is strongly represented in critical pedagogy.
Critical pedagogy seeks to end the unjust oppression of humans by advocating change in the way schools pass on information. From this emerges critical literacy, which states that by working to comprehend the manner in which texts are written and presented, one may understand the political, social, and economic environments in which the text was formed as well as be able to identify hidden ideologies existing within such texts.
Other philosophical approaches to critical literacy, while sharing many of the ideas of Neo-Marxist/Freirean critical literacy, may be viewed as a less overtly politicized expansion on these ideas. Critical literacy helps teachers as well as students to explore the relationship between theoretical framework and its practical implications.
Factors of critical literacy
Freire includes several basic factors in his formation of critical literacy. The first step of critical literacy involves bringing awareness, or “consciousness” as Freire terms it, to those who are mistreated and to those who bring about this mistreatment through promoting unfair ideologies via politics and other positions of power, such as schools and government. This is because Freire and Macedo hold that written texts also represent information that has been built on previous schemas about the world since the mistreated often are not conscious that they are oppressed, viewing their poverty or marginalization as a natural part of life. Thus accepting their unjust hardship, they do not know the necessary steps they can take to change their circumstances and as a result, remain in their oppression.
However, the second factor of critical literacy combats this by seeking to transform the way in which the school system transmits information since schools are frequently the primary carriers of information in a society. In the 1999 fall volume of the Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism, and Practice, Ira Shor writes that critical literacy can be used to reveal one’s subjective beliefs about the world by causing them to question their personal assumptions through using words. Able to be tailored to work with diverse ideas relating to feminism or neo-Marxism, critical literacy presents students with different ways of thinking about their self-development by challenging them to consider differing perspectives about issues rather than settle with the cultural norms and status quo. The goal of this is to lead students to promote social action within their community to change unjust structures.
It is accomplished through advocating honest dialogue between the teacher and students in which both parties learn together through critical discussion of important issues rather than follow a banking model of education, which is a traditional method of teaching that treats students as empty containers, or banks, to be filled by teachers whose primary roles are to lecture and pass on information that students must receive and recite during tests. Freire was not a proponent of the banking model because he believed rather than creating conscious knowledge within students, this model instead allowed schools to continue perpetuating belief systems that justified unequal dynamics of power and as a result, caused marginalization of groups to resume.
Yet when teachers facilitate discussion between students regarding the controversial issues that pertain to them and their society, this honest dialogue acts as a bridge to allow students to question the social inequalities in their own communities and the underlying hierarchies that govern these prejudices. Honest dialogue between instructor and student leads students to the third factor: critical reflection of how they can apply the knowledge they have discovered through dialogue to their own life situations in order to take concrete actions to change society and right injustices.
Teaching critical literacy
By teaching critical literacy, teachers can help students take action by expanding their mindsets to better understanding the perspectives of other overlooked groups in society and thus, grow in appreciation for those who have a different culture and language than they do.
There are numerous ways teachers can encourage the development of critical literacy. Teachers can adapt the teaching of critical literacy to their individual classrooms by encouraging students to analytically read literature, movies, and magazines to challenge the social norms found within these texts rather than simply accept the author’s message without fair questioning and testing of his or her ideas. After students read these texts, they can form their own ideas to dispute the text and write a response to oppose its claims.
Another technique that teachers can use to teach critical literacy is letting students conduct research on a topic relating to social justice that they are interested in. Allowing students to investigate social issues relating their own lives can also lead them to taking personal responsibility for social change in their communities. Having students dissect different texts from various sources and authors in order to uncover the authors’ biases resulting from his or her ingrained ideas of norms is another method for developing the skill of critical literacy as well as having students rewrite passages they read but from the viewpoints and circumstances of oppressed minority groups. Reading a multitude of different texts or additional readings that accompany the text can also help students practice critical literacy.
Teaching critical literacy can also develop certain skills. First, teaching critical literacy allows students to develop their ability to understand the messages found in online articles and other sources of media such as news stations or journalism through careful analysis of the text and how the text is presented.
Second, critical literacy teaches them how to identify discrimination within institutions of power and then to question these power dynamics when they appear in written and oral texts so that students may comprehend why certain topics such as racial slurs are controversial in society. Teachers help foster students’ higher order thinking through in-class discussions about these social topics in what is known as a dialogic environment. Here, the traditional banking model of teaching is replaced by teachers giving students a chance to openly express their ideas and thoughts on the issues being taught in class.
Thirdly, critical literacy aids the growth of reading skills by allowing students to actively relate various texts to other texts to determine if the overall messages promote or discourages the marginalization of minority groups. Younger children can also learn to practice critical literacy by having a teacher read picture books out loud to them as the children learn to examine what messages the images and paragraphs in the picture books convey. By encouraging students to find ways these social issues relate to their own personal lives, students’ minds are expanded to see cultural and racial differences as a positive thing.
Lastly, critical literacy prepares students to recognize the importance of language in the formation of politics, social hierarchy, race, and power because the way in which phrases are worded can impact the overall message. This also appears in the realm of education as schools and teachers must determine whether they will teach and request that students use only the standard academic dialect in class or allow them to continue using the dialect they learned in the home. Critical literacy causes students to rethink which variation of language they speak since the standard dialect is the prevalent one and contains more power.
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