Education and Critical Thinking

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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Doctors measure life based on our ability to function cognitively. When we lose our ability to function cognitively, we are categorized as being “brain dead”. “Cognition refers to mental activity including thinking, remembering, learning and using language’ (quote). These mental activities often happen reflexively, but when we become aware of them as they occur metacognition is taking place. Metacognition “refers to the act of thinking about thinking, or the cognition of cognition. It is the ability for you to control your own thoughts.
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” (cite) This marks the difference being alive and knowing that you are alive. This develops a habit/ability to think critically about our own thoughts and adjust these thoughts after reflection.

According to John Dewey critical thinking is “active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it, and the further conclusions to which it tends. (Dewey ,1933).” This suggests that the connection between critical thinking and other levels of learning is markedly different. For example, rote learning does not involve a lot of reflection or consideration of one’s own assumptions since it requires more of a storage and regurgitation of acquired information; whereas critical thinking is the acquisition and processing of said information in order to make sense of the world around us. We use critical thinking skills to solve problems in the science classroom through experimentations and exploration of findings. We also use it in our English Language classroom to get our students to think critically about literature and apply literary concepts to abstract situations.

Another definition offered is that “critical thinking is a term used by educators to describe forms of learning, thought, and analysis that go beyond the memorization and recall of information and facts.” (Education Reform, 2013). They posit that a student who is thinking critically should be able to carry out the following functions in the English Language classroom: Developed well-reasoned, persuasive arguments and evaluating and responding to counterarguments; examining concepts or situations from multiple perspectives, including different cultural perspectives. This would mean that the teacher would need to produce guided questions which will allow students to reflect while they are learning and to become effective learners.

In the previous analytical piece, five assumptions regarding the Bloom’s Taxonomy were proffered. The assumptions were presented in a sequential matter. So, the second assumption presented is that learning takes place in a linear fashion and follows a set of predetermined patterns. Which would mean, student remember, understand, apply etc. in that order for learning to have taken place. This assumption has been challenged by the reading materials provided for the module, discussion points offered by others in the course and independently sourced reading materials.

Even though I still believe that some skills will always be foundational. I am becoming open to the idea that learning is not linear and the skills on the Blooms Taxonomy Scale do not always progress in this fashion. According to Ron Berger the Bloom’s Taxonomy give “the mistaken impression that these cognitive processes are discrete, that it’s possible to perform one of these skills separately from others. It also gives the mistaken impression that some of these skills are more difficult and more important than others. It can blind us to the integrated process that actually takes place in students’ minds as they learn.” (Education Week, 2020). This made me think about my own assumptions and thus analyze how I can to this conclusion. First off, I realized that this thought was developed during my years in teachers’ college. We were usually taught that we should introduce topics in a fashion that were sequential. In my own practice as a teacher I found that schools administration and coaches assess teachers’ ability to teach based on this linear presentation of information. I am now forced to think critically about the possibility that students can learn skills from each level as needed based on the skill that is needed at that

The other assumption that was confirmed is that learning the skills at each level is not discrete. Students can develop several skills at a time. This assumption was also challenged by Berger in his discussion and was further supported by Dr. Spencer Kagan in his discourse on whether Bloom’s Taxonomy align with brain science. He states that, “there at least five distinct types of recall, each of these types of recall is really not a single process but a combination of various relatively independent processes.” He describes and explains each as follows:

“episodic memory [which] is not one thing, but a collection of processes, each of which can occur in isolation of the others. Experiments reveal the “double dissociative” principle. That is, we can have recall for the effect of an event without memory of the incidents of an event, or we can have memory of the incidents of an event without memory of the affect associated with the event. The emotional component of an incident is processed by the amygdala while the events of the incident are processed by the hippocampus. To prove the independence of these two components of episodic memory, doctors and researchers have conducted classic experiments on patients with damage to the amygdala or to the hippocampus. Results reveal that the amygdala and hippocampus each process different components of episodic memory.”

This provides proof that none of the skills on the taxonomy are discrete, as they are all a part of a web of connectedness which constitutes the learning process.

All my other assumptions still hold true, however only the two that I will discuss have been deepened. A third assumption held is that Bloom’s taxonomy is applicable to different subject areas. There are subjects in which student knowledge can be measured across a broad spectrum of tasks and activities. In his article titled “Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to The Classroom” Will Fastiggi posited that “Bloom’s taxonomy can be applied to any (cognitive) content intended for students to learn, is what makes this framework so powerful.’ He further went on to say that “it can be seen, to a greater or lesser extent, in all mark schemes and assessment objectives provided by all examining bodies in almost any curriculum subject.” Based on his reasoning, my assumptions were confirmed based on information drawn from disparate sources and schools of thought.

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Education And Critical Thinking. (2022, Aug 17). Retrieved from