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ERIC Number: ED451518
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2001-Mar-15
Pages: 13
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Critical Thinking and the Historical Imagination.
Parfitt, Matthew
Most educators' ideas about academic discourse and critical thinking are confined by social constructionist assumptions. Working with historical texts, in such a way that these texts empower students to imagine alternative futures, opens up the freshman writing course to three-dimensional critical thinking. Freshmen at one particular college must take a social science course in which they read C. Wright Mills, the influential sociologist who coined the terms "power elite" and "sociological imagination," among others. And the concept of "historical imagination" owes a great deal to C. Wright Mills. The term "historical" is preferred only because the intention is to broaden the concept and to throw the emphasis on a temporal dimension of reading and writing that has suffered from neglect. The very phrase "academic discourse" diverts attention from the historical--academic speech refers to a particular linguistic system with its own codes and structures, and teaching academic discourse is teaching these synchronic codes rather than entering a diachronic conversation. Academics routinely draw on the work of a recognizable intellectual predecessor and apply it, adapt it, or revise it to fill a contemporary felt need. Lytton Strachey's "Eminent Victorians" is an example of a general truth: that the historical imagination is not really concerned with the past as past; it uses the past to address the present and reinvent the future. (NKA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A