Volume 28, Issue 1, Spring 2013
Critical Thinking in the Literature Classroom, Part I: Making Critical Thinking Visible
Literary analysis offers English instructors an ideal vehicle for modeling, practicing, and teaching critical thinking skills. Because literature students must master the skills of analysis, reasoning, evaluation, and argumentation, they would benefit from deliberate and explicit instruction in the concepts and practices of critical thinking in the classroom. Part I of this paper describes strategies to incorporate explicit instruction in the elements of reasoning and the standards of critical thinking described by critical thinking experts Richard Paul, Linda Elder, and Gerald Nosich into the literature classroom. In the companion piece, “Critical Thinking in the Literature Classroom, Part II: Dickens’s Great Expectations and the Emergent Critical Thinker,” (Hiner 2013) a demonstration is given of how protagonists in literary works such as Pip from Dickens’s Great Expectations (1860-61/1996) can be understood and interpreted as literary representations of an individual’s transition from a first-order, unreflective thinker to a second-order, reflective, metacognitive critical thinker, further illuminating the literary texts and further reinforcing students’ understanding of the concepts of critical thinking.