From Obedience to Critique

Critique is the cornerstone of a deliberative democracy, the seeds of which are planted and cultivated at school.  If students must obey their teachers without question in an authoritarian structure of power, they will not learn how to be reflective citizens.  Schools that demand students’ obedience can disempower them to contest perceived injustices or try to understand the origin of existing rules and their underlying principles.  And even though there is much talk of critical thinking or critical analysis in education these days, it is often taken to mean reasoning in the direction of a “right” answer.  Critique considers that there could be more than just one way of solving a problem.

To critique is to analyze ideas in order to make meaning through argumentative dialogue.  Critique is inextricably a creative-collaborative process that involves asking challenging questions, developing positions, listening to others with an open mind, critically analyzing a diversity of possibilities and negotiating meanings in order to make decisions.  These decisions can range from: how to make sense of concepts and ideas - across cultures and throughout time; how to define rules and agreements democratically in a collectivity, from a classroom to a nation; or how to solve common problems jointly.  When students and teachers address real life, 21st century problems in the classroom and argumentatively discuss and debate the issues involved in such problems to come to conclusions about them from which they base their actions, we can truly transform the world and ourselves.
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To transform education in order to move humanity forward to face the challenges of the 21st century, increasingly globalized world in a collaborative, creative, critical, connected and caring way.

The founder and primary contributor to Education for Contemporary Times is Sarah O. Weiler, long-time educator with a M.A. in Global Education from the University of Illinois and a M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Education at the prestigious Institute of Education at the University of London in the UK.
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