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INQUIRY Vol. 30 No. 2 (Summer 2015)
Table of Contents
From the Editor's Desk
In this issue we have a reflection piece by the noted educator, Stephen Brookfield. In it Stephen describes the evolution of his “critical consciousness.” Indeed, he tells us that “I can’t really remember a time when critical thinking didn’t seem like such an obvious way to be, so it’s hard to pinpoint the origins of when I first committed to the project of developing it in myself. To me striving for a critical consciousness is just what it means to be human, it’s not really a choice.” When Stephen introduces the idea of critical thinking to new groups, he would like to start with “my own preferred project of critical thinking as the uncovering of power and hegemony,” but he acknowledges that if he began that way with many audiences most people would “respond by trying to sneak out.” So while the theme of uncovering hegemony underpins much of his work, he is a pragmatist both by honoring classical American pragmatism in his thinking and also by his choice of tactics to bring critical thinking to a receptive audience.
Our second piece is an extensive introduction to a diagramming system that is more fully developed than the usual textbook presentation of argument diagramming. For one thing, the system is designed to allow diagramming of decisions in addition to diagramming arguments. Thinking of argument diagramming as an aid to critical reflection and decision-making has led Peter Facione and Carol Gittens to design this system, and readers will get a substantial sample of what the system can do with numerous, highly developed examples.
Third, we have an unusual book review. The book in question is The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education (2015), edited by Martin Davies and Ronald Barrett. The book is so rich that we decided to create a series of reviews of the various sections of the book since those sections are thematically organized. The first review in the series is by David Wright, and it covers Part V “Critical Thinking and the Cognitive Sciences.” David is accustomed to using materials from cognitive psychology as support is his own critical thinking classes, and this gives him a chance to ponder additional sources on how cognitive science perspectives can inform critical thinking pedagogy.
Finally, the issue rounds out with a review of Stephen Brookfield’s major monograph on Teaching for Critical Thinking which is subtitled “Tools and Techniques to Help Students Question Their Assumptions.” The reviewer is Benjamin Hamby, and Ben draws on his extensive acquaintance with critical thinking textbooks both to appreciate Brookfield’s approach, but also to challenge it by noting how the emphasis on assumption questioning may lead to downplaying other valuable aspects of critical thinking.
Professor of Philosophy
Department of Psychology and Philosophy
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX 77341-2447