Thinking: Lessons from John Dewey’s How We Think
AbstractIn this article we draw on John Dewey’s (1910) classic book How We Think to reflect on the absence of a culture of ‘critical thinking’ and/or ‘reflective thinking’ at Morgenster Teachers’ College. ‘Critical thinking’ and/or ‘reflective thinking’ are central to John Dewey (1916, 1910) and Paulo Freire’s (2005, 1995) teachings. But they are also embedded in the dialogues of Plato, for instance, The Republic, Meno, Euthyphro, Apology, and Protagoras, to mention a few. But data from focus group interviews conducted with final year students at Morgenster Teachers’ College shows that pedagogical practices at the college are monologic or one-dimensional, which is not supportive of ‘critical thinking’ and/or ‘reflective thinking’. Our contention in this article is that in teaching and learning it is essential for the students to be equipped with the skills to understand the world and what is in it. For such understanding to occur teachers should engage the students in philosophical inquiry and critical dialogue. Philosophical inquiry is most effective when it takes the form of dialogue between peers. But as Freire (1995) points out, true dialogue cannot exist unless the dialoguers engage in critical thinking. We recognise that Morgenster Teachers’ College is an important institution with a mandate to produce teachers. It is therefore incumbent that the college shifts from monologic pedagogies, to pedagogiies that are anchored in philosophical inquiry, critical dialogue, ‘critical thinking’ and ‘reflective thinking’, which engender an understanding of the world and what is in it.
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