Departmental Bulletin Paper Definitions of Critical Thinking in Context

Gyenes, Adam

20pp.17 - 25 , 2015-03-31 , 大阪大学大学院人間科学研究科教育学系 , Department of Education Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University , オオサカ ダイガク ダイガクイン ニンゲン カガク ケンキュウカ キョウイクガクケイ
With the impact of increasing global competition, calls for greater emphasis on critical thinking in secondary and higher education are frequently heard in Japan, yet there is a lack of agreement on what is meant by the term “critical thinking.” This paper provides a review of selected literature, charting the chronological development of definitions of critical thinking in education during the twentieth century, and reflections on the application of critical thinking to different contexts. Whereas critical thinking is often conflated with logic in Japanese discourse, this review shows that, outside of Japan, definitions of critical thinking have progressively moved away from logic to focus on a core of teachable skills. Although general consensus among academics has resulted in a widely accepted definition of critical thinking since the 1990s, this paper suggests that critical thinking needs to be adapted to the specific needs of students in different educational contexts through the personal and working definitions of individual educators. These educational contexts are defined in disciplinary, social, and cultural terms. It is hoped that this synthesis of the literature might help educators in Japan and elsewhere to identify both a universal core of critical thinking skills and insights on adapting these skills, so that they can develop a personal definition that suits their own teaching situation.

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