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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ACT CRITICALLY? Stephen Brookfield Distinguished University Professor University of St. Thomas Minneapolis-St. Paul Stephen Brookfield.

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Presentation on theme: "WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ACT CRITICALLY? Stephen Brookfield Distinguished University Professor University of St. Thomas Minneapolis-St. Paul Stephen Brookfield."— Presentation transcript:

1 WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ACT CRITICALLY? Stephen Brookfield Distinguished University Professor University of St. Thomas Minneapolis-St. Paul Stephen Brookfield Distinguished University Professor University of St. Thomas Minneapolis-St. Paul

2 CRITICAL THINKING A premature ultimate – its invocation stops further analysis & questioning In most H.E. mission statements Broad agreement on process – identifying & checking assumptions Implementation changes depending on intellectual tradition most influential A premature ultimate – its invocation stops further analysis & questioning In most H.E. mission statements Broad agreement on process – identifying & checking assumptions Implementation changes depending on intellectual tradition most influential

3 Critical Traditions …. ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY – logical fallacies, argument analysis – inductive, deductive, analogical, inferential NATURAL SCIENCE – hypothetical-deductive method, principle of falsifiability CRITICAL THEORY – uncovering power dynamics & ideological manipulation PRAGMATISM – experimental pursuit of beautiful consequences (democracy) ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY – logical fallacies, argument analysis – inductive, deductive, analogical, inferential NATURAL SCIENCE – hypothetical-deductive method, principle of falsifiability CRITICAL THEORY – uncovering power dynamics & ideological manipulation PRAGMATISM – experimental pursuit of beautiful consequences (democracy)

4 Core Assumptions of Critical Theory Society organized to make permanent inequity appear normal, a natural state of affairs Perception of normality created & disseminated via dominant ideology Point of theory is to illuminate as a prompt to action Society organized to make permanent inequity appear normal, a natural state of affairs Perception of normality created & disseminated via dominant ideology Point of theory is to illuminate as a prompt to action

5 What Does it Mean to Be Critical? Five Tasks Pursued Experimentally Understand how power operates – its dynamics, its ethical use & abuse in relationships, work & community Detect ideological manipulation Recognize & challenge hegemony Be alert to how repressive tolerance neutralizes challenges to the system Practice democracy

6 Understanding Power Researching use of teacher power Understanding student-student dynamics CRITICAL INCIDENT QUESTIONNAIRE Most engaged moment Most distanced moment Most helpful action Most puzzling action What surprised you most Researching use of teacher power Understanding student-student dynamics CRITICAL INCIDENT QUESTIONNAIRE Most engaged moment Most distanced moment Most helpful action Most puzzling action What surprised you most

7 IDEOLOGICAL MANIPULATION How ideology is embedded in micro- actions & everyday decisions … Depression – patriarchy Micro-aggressions: racial & gender Political participation – “they’re all the same”, “everything’s fixed”, “mustn’t grumble” How ideology is embedded in micro- actions & everyday decisions … Depression – patriarchy Micro-aggressions: racial & gender Political participation – “they’re all the same”, “everything’s fixed”, “mustn’t grumble”

8 IDEOLOGICAL MANIPULATION CAPITALISM Competition as natural survival of fittest Efficiency via division of labor Exchange dynamic Privatization – taking care of your own CAPITALISM Competition as natural survival of fittest Efficiency via division of labor Exchange dynamic Privatization – taking care of your own

9 HEGEMONY Enthusiastic embrace of actions & beliefs that harm us & serve the interests of others …. VOCATION “Killing me softly” Enthusiastic embrace of actions & beliefs that harm us & serve the interests of others …. VOCATION “Killing me softly”

10 Repressive Tolerance (Marcuse) Include enough challenge to the system to neutralize it – critical theory texts Diversifying curriculum as smorgasbord – mainstream always defines the norm Ideology of democratic tolerance – flattening of discussion when all experiences & viewpoints are considered equally valid Include enough challenge to the system to neutralize it – critical theory texts Diversifying curriculum as smorgasbord – mainstream always defines the norm Ideology of democratic tolerance – flattening of discussion when all experiences & viewpoints are considered equally valid

11 PRACTICING DEMOCRACY Decisions after inclusive conversation Decision making processes represent interests of those most affected Resources stewarded & used for benefit of widest number of people, ‘common good’ Negotiation of shared interest – collective interest privileged over private interest Decisions after inclusive conversation Decision making processes represent interests of those most affected Resources stewarded & used for benefit of widest number of people, ‘common good’ Negotiation of shared interest – collective interest privileged over private interest

12 RESOURCES www.stephenbrookfield.com www.the99ersband.com The Power of Critical Theory (2004) Radicalizing Learning (2010) with John Holst Teaching for Critical Thinking (2012) www.stephenbrookfield.com www.the99ersband.com The Power of Critical Theory (2004) Radicalizing Learning (2010) with John Holst Teaching for Critical Thinking (2012)


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