ERIC Number: ED345254
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992
Critical Thinking and English Language Arts Instruction. Report Series 6.5.
Langer, Judith A.
The current national focus on critical thinking is unnecessarily narrow in its scope, and this mitigates against essential changes being made in the thinking and reasoning activities experienced by students. Two shortcomings, however, restrict the possibilities for change: the first results from taking a generic (versus discipline-based) view of critical thinking that focuses on broad reasoning behaviors used in a variety of situations. The second shortcoming is that, historically, the field of education has taken a one dimensional, logical/scientific view of critical thought, one that erases from the consciousness of educators a literary understanding. From a reader-response perspective, literature instruction should focus on exploring multiple perspectives and fostering a broader sense of the interpretations of others. A reader-based theory for the teaching of literature can refocus instructional goals and practices. A literary orientation for critical thinking involves the exploration of a "horizon of possibilities," including motives, emotions, and relationships. This orientation should consist of the following: (1) students are treated as thinkers; (2) literature reading is treated as question generating; and (3) class meetings are treated as a time to develop understandings. Such meetings allow students room to work through ideas in a variety of contexts, thus playing a critical role in intellectual development. Literary understanding has its place next to informative understanding as a necessary component of critical thought and intelligent literate behavior. Educators must rethink the role of English language arts in the total curriculum. (Forty-one references are attached.) (HB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for the Learning and Teaching of Literature, Albany, NY.