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The reproduction of historical relations in the crosscultural classroom at university.

This paper is based on research conducted with indigenous students at a university in the Northern Territory. It examines crosscultural theories of education which explain the problems of teaching and learning in indigenous contexts in terms of the cultural mismatch between the home and school environment These theories position the teacher as the condition of knowledge and learning in so far as he or she is responsible for transmitting the knowledge and skills to students. The teacher's methodology becomes the means through which students learn. But in the context of indigenous education, in positioning indigenous students in relation to a non-indigenous teacher's methodology, crosscultural theories of education unconsciously perpetuate an unequal historical relation in the university classroom. I conclude that good teaching and learning at university are not only a consequence of a good methodology but the product of an unconscious influence of the teacher's sty/e upon the student; the crucial factor that brings the two together is how the pedagogue speaks.

Introduction: Crosscultural theories of indigenous education Over the last 30 years or so, the production of knowledge and learning in indigenous classrooms has been explained historically in terms of the cultural differences between the indigenous students and their non-indigenous teacher. Theorists in crosscultural education have taken the position that students from different cultural backgrounds have different ways of processing and producing knowledge, and they are motivated by a different set of rules. For example, Christie (1984) explained, at the time of his research, that the learning processes at work as Aboriginal children at Milingimbi, Northern Territory grow are determined by the methods of socialisation their people employ and their view of the world. Malin (1989) followed in Christie's footsteps to find that the Aboriginal children's worldview disadvantages them in the classroom, and Fludspith (1996) replicated Malin's methodology to conclude from her research that the social and cultural practices which Aboriginal children learn at home do not fit with the assumptions and expectations of the classroom teacher. In summary, crosscultural theories of education explain the problems of teaching and learning in indigenous contexts in terms of the cultural mismatch between the home and school environment. (1)

Crosscultural theories of teaching and learning also position the teacher as the condition of knowledge and learning in so far as he or she is responsible for transmitting the knowledge and skills to students. The methodology becomes the means through which students learn and so the teachers focus on developing good teaching methods in classrooms containing students from a diversity of backgrounds (e.g. see Eckermann, 1994; Matin, 1998; Rose, Gray, & Cowey, 1999). This paper begins by examining the search for good teaching methodologies in the crosscultural classroom (2) and, in particular, some of the literature is reviewed in crosscultural education, to find out how indigenous students learn these methodologies at university. By investigating how a non-indigenous teacher can account for the unequal power relations in his or her classroom practice, some insight into this dilemma is gained through the two selections of interview data presented in this paper? The data are important not only because they provide practical insights (see below) into learning and teaching in indigenous higher education, they also raise questions which could not be answered by the current theories in crosscultural education, questions which led me to investigate psychoanalytic theories of education, including the work of Britzman (1998) and Salecl (1994).

How can indigenous students learn through a methodology?

Murray (1995), Hudspith (1996), Malin (1998) and Rose et al. (1999) draw on the theories of Vygotsky to show how the student can learn from the teacher in the crosscultural classroom. Vygotsky referred to the space between what the teacher knows and what the student must learn as a 'zone of proximal development' (Rose et al., 1999, p. 3t). He proposed that learning is produced through a relation where the teacher provides the student with hints and props which guide the student's learning until it can be applied by the student in his or her own way (Bruner, 1986). Students could be helped to learn through 'shared learning activities' and to produce common knowledge together (Malin, 1998; Murray, 1995).

In a succinct summary of the different models of instruction that are used in indigenous classrooms, Malin (1998) observes that, as teachers, we often expect students to learn simply by giving them worksheets and assuming that they will learn by reading it or by completing the set activities. But Murray (1995) argues that students must be taught how to learn in a school context, and specifically how to use English for further learning in order to create more active learning on behalf of the student. For Michaels (1995) it is not enough to give students books to read, questions to answer, topics to talk about and assignments to complete or maths problems to solve. The teacher's job is to devise ways that can 'direct and develop complex reasoning in the learner' to solve his or her own problems (Michaels, 1995, p. 22). He or she guides, models and scaffolds students in the particular ways of thinking, gives explanations, constructs arguments, and asks questions relevant to the context of learning (Michaels, 1995).


Through guiding and scaffolding, the student in crosscultural theories of learning not only learns to imitate and repeat the structure of classroom dialogue, but also to anticipate the kind of answers the teacher might want as the dialogue progresses (Malin, 1998). The teacher helps the students put into words an explicit description of what they are doing together in the classroom (Cazden, 1988; Rose et al., 1999). He or she gives the student a 'helping hand', then only a finger, and then he or she withdraws that few inches until the students are competent to perform the learning task on their own (Cazden, 1988).

Learning and teaching through scaffolding has become a popular methodological technique for teaching students how to analyse and critique texts. Teachers have recognised that students should be able to observe how the knowledge is constructed in the classroom so that the conditions of knowledge are explicit to students (Hudspith, 1996). They should be able to follow where the ideas and positions in a classroom text come from and how they are linked together through particular techniques. It is assumed that methods like scaffolding help students to learn the teacher's knowledge so that they can apply it to other contexts. The student is then able to apply the teachers' cognitive structures or methods to read, analyse and interpret new texts or to solve problems in new situations. According to the theory of scaffolding, the students learn more than the teacher's knowledge; they learn how to learn so that once the methods are constituted in their mind, they will be able to learn independently of the teacher.

However Searle (1984) notes that, although the teacher helps the student to talk about an experience, what the student says and does is structured according to the teacher's view of what is relevant to the intended learning outcome. Through a sequence of questions and evaluations, the process of scaffolding directs the students towards a predetermined, fixed cognitive destination where the student is constituted as responsible for working out the teacher's plans and intentions (Searle, 1984). The student's own way of thinking and knowing is structured within the framework of the teachers' methodology, which prompts Searle (1984) to ask: 'Who's building whose building?'. Students learn to reproduce the teacher's knowledge as they learn to repeat the teacher's way of talking and writing about that knowledge. Although scaffolding should teach the student to learn independently of the teacher, Gee (1995) observes, 'I can offer no definitive answers' (p. 24) as to how the student learns other than the lecturer's way of knowing. Knowledge and the ways of producing it are always closely linked. But what does this mean for indigenous students in particular, who learn through a non-indigenous teacher at university?

How do indigenous students learn through the non-indigenous teacher at university?

In the absence of research conducted into the learning and teaching methodologies employed in indigenous higher education, I have relied mainly on school-based research to examine the theories of crosscultural education. Some general research is also available that outlines the failure of indigenous education at university (see Abdullah & Stringer, 1997; Bin-Sallik, 1994; Bourke, Burden, & Moore, 1996; Kemmis, 1997a, 1997b;Walker, 1998).4 This study therefore attempts to find out how indigenous students actually learn through a non-indigenous particular behaviour, and finally to a response that takes into consideration moral rules. In the transcripts we analysed, no pupil reflected about ethical principles, which is assumed to be more complex than the preceding. With regard to form, responsible thinking is manifested in the statement of the response, then in the attempt to understand peer behaviour or moral rules, and finally in doubt about these behaviours and rules. No proposition pertaining to an engagement in the modification of behaviours or rules was noted.

Meta-cognitive thinking means reflecting about oneself's or another's thoughts, rather than simply engaging in the discussion. It means not only being conscious of one's perspectives and beliefs, but also exercising control over the group's thoughts. In dialogue, meta-cognitive thinking appears when pupils explicitly mention a peer contribution, are aware of peer thinking skills, use peer perspectives to modify their own, etc. Meta-cognitive thinking gains in complexity, in its content, starting from a centring on one's own points of view, then moving on through the comprehension of others' points of view, which may lead to correction, and finally to the acknowledgement of a perspective enriched via the group discussion. In its form, the increasing complexity of meta-cognitive thinking is manifested as follows: statement (which is a simple unit), description (which is partly abstract, partly concrete), explanation (which is reasonably abstract and elaborated) and argument (conceptual complex analysis).This last manifestation was not observed in our transcripts.

The increasing complexity of the four modes of thinking is connected to three epistemological levels (egocentricity, relativism and inter-subjectivity oriented towards meaning) that emerged from the analysis of the twenty-four transcripts of pupils from the three cultural backgrounds--the fourth level (inter-subjectivity oriented towards constructed knowledge) was not noted in the transcripts; it is simply a theoretical extrapolation which remains to be verified.

The egocentric perspective seems to be the most spontaneous for the pupils, as their beliefs, opinions and interests are linked to concrete observation or anchored in those of the adults that surround them (parents, teachers, media, etc.). At this point, the pupils are not aware that they can formulate their own judgements and act according to them. They spontaneously believe there exists only one vision of the world--the one that they were taught and that they master--and as evidence is so plausible, it is unnecessary to justify it. Egocentricity is manifested in exchanges of anecdotal and monological types (see Daniel et al., 2002).

The relativistic perspective is illustrated in a non-critical or semi-critical dialogue (see Daniel et al., 2002), when pupils make well-thought-out judgements with regard to the problem to be solved, but do not doubt what they have acquired, do not question the validity of their peers' statements, and present their own statements as final or 'closed' conclusions. The exchange denotes decentring in relation to the object and in relation to oneself; beliefs are no longer conjugated in the singular, but rather in the plural form; 'truth' is modifiable according to context; each person has a point of view of their own; for pupils, justification is not considered as absolutely necessary and is formulated only under the teacher's stimulation. The exchange indicates a capacity to link the senses' concrete observations to abstractions in the form of reasoning. Also, the sole objective of justification seems to be proving that one's opinion is better than that of one's peers. Relativism is relatively accessible to pupils aged 10 to 12.

The perspective linked to inter-subjectivity oriented towards meaning is the concern for exchange and negotiation among peers, which generates critical dialogue (see Daniel et al., 2002). At this level, the pupils have integrated conceptualisation, transformation, categorisation and correction. Also, they have integrated the principles of what we call the 'community of inquiry' (Splitter & Sharp, 1995). They are capable of evaluation (of themselves, the community of inquiry, society, mankind) with improvement in mind. The justifications they provide originate in reasoning and reflection. Their statements are more often manifested as hypotheses than as conclusions; thus individual knowledge seems uncertain and, as such, this knowledge develops from the groups' diversified viewpoints. Criticism is frequent and manifests itself in different ways (nuances, counter-examples, questions, oppositions, etc.); criticism is not destructive, but seems to be elaborated in order to contribute to the enrichment of the community of inquiry. The pupils seem to be aware that their points of view are temporary, and that dialogue is an open process. This perspective does not spontaneously appear in pupils aged 10 to 12; it requires a well-sustained philosophical praxis, both in frequency and in time, as shown by the examples of the Mexican and Australian school groups, which have been committed to using the P4C approach for, respectively, two and five years.

From the preceding analysis, we infer that the fourth epistemological level (which was not manifested by the groups of pupils studied) would also be anchored in inter-subjectivity, except that the latter would be oriented towards knowledge. Knowledge is not seen here as an en-soi to be transmitted, but as a social construction, integrated in a particular context, and open to refinement; the same is true of theories that are not perceived as truths, but as models approximately reflecting the world. At this level, personal experience and theoretical knowledge (external) are interrelated, and empower the individual actively to contribute to improvement of the social experience.

Analysis of transcripts

To demonstrate the components of dialogical critical thinking as manifested by some groups of pupils participating in our research project, we will use the transcript of an exchange among Australian pupils. As discourse is the concrete manifestation of thought, we will be able to determine, by analysing the critical dialogue, the characteristics of dialogical critical thinking.

In a subsequent section, in order to validate the characteristics that emerge from this analysis, we will present an analysis of additional Australian transcripts reflecting, respectively, monological exchange and semi-critical dialogue.

The grid applied to critical dialogue

Logical thinking

Within the transcript illustrating critical dialogue, the Australian pupils reflected on the common question: Is there a hierarchy between humans and animals? Within this transcript, we observe that interventions illustrating logical thinking are the most frequent compared with other modes of thinking. At the content level, this mode of thinking is especially illustrated in perspective 3.
 Well, I think it comes down like to what it usually comes down in
 any philosophy discussion. It depends what you're talking about,
 the overall or whether you're talking about if it's humans in
 their inventive way or in their instinctive way. And I think that
 humans in their inventive way are smarter than other animals. But
 also, they might not be. To other animals, we wouldn't be because
 the other animals make what they need, not what they want, so ...

 I put them at least like fourth or third or maybe second because
 they're just ... I don't think we deserve to go at the top for what
 we've done to all those animals and how we've had wars. And like
 animals don't care, I mean they have wars sometimes but it's when
 they need to be in the higher group to be respected more. They just
 get what they need, I mean they don't get clothes and shops ... So I
 think that animals are a higher level than humans but they respect
 other people and we tend to be selfish.

Within this perspective, pupils are engaged in conceptualisation; their judgement is abstract and stems from reasoning, without being based on concrete or academic experience as is the case for perspective 2, which in this transcript was also frequently used by the group.
 If the clothes weren't invented I think we would have been fine.
 Everyone just wants to be sort of standing out in a group. Everyone
 is seen in places, you know shops and they've got all these clothes
 and make-up and stuff. We don't really need that. We're fine
 without clothes and we need clothes at certain temperatures, but
 just make-up and stuff that we don't really need.

We did not note any intervention based essentially on sensory observation (perspective 1) or complex reasoning (perspective 4).

With regard to form, perspective 3 largely dominates the group's discourse, in that the majority of pupil interventions are spontaneously justified by the pupils; these justifications are complete but remain simple.
 If dolphins were that smart we'd almost be depending on them. That's
 what most people are saying. If dolphins are as smart as humans then
 we'd almost be depending on them because a lot of dolphins depend on
 us. But the only reason they depend on us now is because we made
 them need to depend on us because if we hadn't done what we have to
 the world, then they wouldn't, yes they'd be domestic and they
 wouldn't need us.

Perspective 4, presupposing the use of arguments in due form (modus ponens), does not characterise the group, although some individuals use it implicitly.

Creative thinking

Creative thinking is very evident in this Australian transcript reflecting a critical dialogue. Indeed almost all the interventions are marked not just by the logical mode, but also by the creative mode. At the content level, creative thinking is manifest in perspective 2, particularly in examples related to giving meaning to a viewpoint.
 I reckon we make things more that we need. Like if you look in the
 supermarket, you could go down one aisle and everything you'd need
 will be in there and there'd be no choices. There'd just be
 everything you need in there. Fresh fruit and vegetables, meat,
 water, and that's basically all you need.

However creative thinking is mostly noted when presenting a different or opposite point of view that contributes to a transformation of perspectives (perspective 3).
 P1: I think that humans are the only ones that can do math. We use
 it to understand things. To well everything we've got to make a
 reason why. So we invented maths to explain it. But the animals they
 just think and they don't really think about, because they've got
 one main instinct which is eat and reproduce.

 P2: [I don't agree because] it's our maths, it's not theirs and we
 don't have a sit-down classroom with animals how we teach them our
 ways. They've got their own ways. And people just think they're
 dumb because they don't know our ways, but they probably think we're
 dumb, if they do think.

If the pupils are capable of elaborating an original or divergent meaning, they did not dwell on the correspondence between the diversity of viewpoints or meanings (perspective 4).

At the level of form, creative thinking is also manifest in the contextualisation of the meaning proposed (perspective 2):
 If dolphins are as smart as humans then we'd almost be depending on
 them because a lot of dolphins depend on us. But the only reason
 they depend on us now is because we made them need to depend on us
 because if we hadn't done what we have to the world, then they
 wouldn't, yes they'd be domestic and they wouldn't need us.

 And in perspective 3, where it expresses doubt, ambivalence or

 I think that humans in their inventive way are smarter than other
 animals. But also, they might not be. To other animals, we wouldn't
 be because the other animals make what they need, not what they
 want, so ...

Also, at perspective 4, we did not observe any manifestations of creative thinking, which implies reflection on complex relationships, where creative thinking transforms meanings and improves them.

Responsible thinking

In this transcript, responsible thinking is explicitly expressed by the pupils. At the level of content, we noted a few answers related to perspective 2--particular moral behaviours.
 Like in World War II, well you know Hider, he was killing lots of
 ... Jewish people and had to be stopped. Even though lots of people
 died, we really needed to stop him.

Nevertheless this transcript is characterised by perspective 3, when the pupils' answers, reflecting a capability for categorisation, are related to moral rules:
 What we've done to other people and animals that makes us a lower
 grade, because animals can learn to live in a group and we're
 learning but we still haven't finished it, we're still having

The explicit manifestation of a reflection on ethical principles (perspective 4) was not noted in this transcript.

At the level of form, various interventions reflect a desire to understand human or animal behaviours (perspective 2); however the majority of these interventions are formulated from a perspective of evaluating human behaviours (perspective 3).
 I think 'also humans are just appearance ... we need clothes at
 certain temperatures, but just make-up and stuff: that we don't
 really need.

With questioning being so present, we might have expected the pupils to reach perspective 4, giving them the opportunity to engage in a change of behaviour; however none of the interventions went in this direction.

Meta-cognitive thinking

Finally we observed meta-cognitive thinking in the Australian transcript, reflecting a critical dialogue. Meta-cognitive thinking, at the content level, is present to the extent that the pupils explicitly demonstrated that they are aware (perspective 2) of the tasks previously performed in philosophy class by verbalising its implications.

(Well, I think it comes down like to what it usually comes down in any philosophy discussion. It depends what you're talking about ...) and aware of points of view expressed by their peers, by naming them explicitly (I agree with P1 because ...). Nevertheless this group of pupils is situated at perspective 3--that is, correction: they mention their disagreement with a peer's point of view (I disagree with P1 because they add a precision or a nuance to a statement with 'but if ...' sentences (P1 said that he doesn't think we could live without television and stuff, but if we didn't have it we wouldn't know about it); they also (but rarely) modify their point of view or perspective (self-correcting) while talking (And I think that humans in their inventive way are smarter than other animals. But also, they might not be. To other animals, we wouldn't be because ...) or by listening to peers (P1: I think, I sort of changed my mind. I sort of agree with P2). The pupils in the group do not speak about their treatment of these viewpoints (perspective 4). They do not express the progress between getting an idea and formulating a viewpoint.

At the level of form, meta-cognitive thinking is expressed in the simple statement (perspective 1) of the pupil's name he or she refers to (I agree with P1 and I ...). Mainly meta-cognitive thinking reflects an effort to justify the reference to the other by a rather concrete and brief description (perspective 2) (I disagree with P1 when he said they (animals) don't build things. They build nests, they build burrows, they have got to work out how to build them, that's not really easy) and by a more complex and abstract act, which we call explanation/ evaluation (perspective 3), which is sometimes manifested as a synthesis of peer perspectives:
 I agree with P1 and P2, well sort of. if I had to rank any the
 animals in a higher order or whatever, I think I'd put humans on the
 top as well because well we build things, animals don't, yes they
 just rely on instinct. Animals don't know what English is, animals
 don't know what maths is or anything. They just do what they're
 meant to do, really ... Animals just eat. Like a fox. He goes out
 hunting maybe once every night as a ... daily, but we go to the
 supermarket whenever we want. We usually do whatever we want because
 we've got better resources for it and we've created more things.
 It's just our brain power is larger. I don't know if it is but I
 think that our brain power is larger.

 No one carried on a formal argument (perspective 4).


In this sample transcript, dialogical critical thinking is manifested according to the following constituent elements elements which were corroborated by analyses of the Mexican and Quebec transcripts: Thinking is multi-modal, in that almost all the cognitive modes are present in each pupil intervention, giving it a definitely complex nature.

High-level logical thinking (Content: 3 and Form: 3) constitutes the basis of the exchange, which is to say that pupils base their interventions on reasoning, and that these interventions are spontaneously justified. From the epistemological perspective, inter-subjectivity oriented towards meaning predominates.

Creative thinking (Content: 3 and Form: 2 and 3) is also present in the majority of interventions, either through examples (search for meaning), or through nuances, or counter-examples (divergence) which are stated or used in order to question. From the epistemological perspective, creative thinking--that is, thinking that is inter-subjective in content overlaps both relativism and inter-subjectivity oriented towards meaning in form.

Responsible thinking (Content: 3 and Form: 3) is mostly manifested through abstract answers related to moral rules, answers that typically question the application of these rules by human beings. From the epistemological perspective, responsible thinking reflects mainly inter-subjectivity oriented towards meaning.

Meta-cognitive thinking (Content: 3 and Form: 2 and 3) is also very characteristic of most of the interventions. This type of thinking is manifested through precision, nuance and group-correction, which is not only stated, but also described and explained. Here meta-cognitive thinking reflects relativism and inter-subjectivity oriented towards meaning.

The grid applied to a monological exchange

To compare these characteristics with those used in an exchange that was not of a dialogical-critical type, we analysed, using the same grid, exchanges that we consider to be monological in the Australian, Mexican and Quebec groups of pupils.

Analysis of all of the transcripts illustrating monological exchanges reveals that the interventions of the pupils are uni-modal, which is to say that they comprise a single thinking mode per intervention, this mode being essentially related to perspective 1 of logical thinking with regard to content as well as to form. The other thinking modes (creative, responsible and meta-cognitive) did not emerge sufficiently to be considered in our analysis. From this perspective, the pupils refer primarily to observation and what is concrete to present their viewpoint, which they are unable to justify spontaneously. The monological group, on the other hand, is situated epistemologically in the first perspective, which is egocentricity (see Daniel et al., 2002).

The grid applied to a semi-critical dialogue

Finally, in order to complete the comparison and to highlight the characteristics of critical dialogue, we analysed exchanges that we qualify as semi-critical dialogue. Analysis of the transcripts reveals use of the following thinking modes: thinking is sometimes stated in a multi-modal manner, in that a single intervention often employs two or even three modes of thinking to express itself and, at other times, in a uni-modal manner. The exchanges do not display any regularity in this respect. Logical thinking (Content: 2 and Form: 2) starts to become abstract and conscious of the necessity to justify beliefs. Creative thinking (Content: 2 and Form: 2) is still mostly a searching for convergent meaning, rather than a divergence; it contextualises more than it evaluates the context. Meta-cognitive thinking (Content: 2 and Form: 2) is necessarily a part of the exchange if the exchange is dialogical, but is not always so in an explicit manner. Responsible thinking (Content: 2 and Form: 2) does not characterise the exchange. From the epistemological perspective, semi-critical dialogue is characterised by relativism and a few traces of egocentricity, especially in the expression of logical thinking (see Daniel et al., 2002).


From our analysis of twenty-four transcripts representing the eight groups of Australian, Mexican and Quebec pupils participating in our research project, the following distinction between semi-critical dialogue and monological exchange stands out: in a dialogical exchange, pupils turn to using various thinking modes (multi-modal) to express themselves, whereas in a monological exchange, logical thinking suffices (uni-modal). The epistemological framework also brings out the fact that, in the first type of exchange, the group is relativistic whereas, in the second, the group is egocentric. The distinction therefore resides in the kind of exchanges.

The resemblance between a critical and a semi-critical dialogue essentially resides in the fact that both presuppose multi-modal thinking, but to different degrees and with different frequencies. However critical dialogue presupposes thinking that is more complex and varied than in semi-critical dialogue. The distinction between critical and semi-critical dialogue is situated in the epistemological perspectives; in other words, critical dialogue presupposes the introduction of inter-subjectivity, whereas semi-critical dialogue is squarely anchored in relativism.

The definition of dialogical critical thinking that emerges from the transcripts relates to the following components:

* multi-modal thinking, where various modes of higher-order thinking are necessary to establish a point of view;

* logical thinking motivated by the analysis of concepts, which is based on reasoning and supported by a spontaneous and complete justification;

* creative thinking that attempts to distance itself from a first-degree search for meaning, and which works on the transformation of meanings--which is stated and which contextualises, but which also, and mainly, doubts, questions, transforms;

* responsible thinking which is not only capable of de-centring, but also of adopting a standpoint on behaviours (particular acts) and moral rules (categorisation of the latter); a standpoint that is expressed in a quest for understanding and, mostly, in evaluation of these behaviours and rules;

* meta-cognitive thinking which is not only aware of one's own and one's peers' contributions, but which also works at its correction and which knows how to describe and explain itself;

* the epistemological perspective which corresponds to dialogical critical thinking and is inter-subjectivity oriented towards meaning with regard to content and form.

With regard to the definition proposed by Lipman, our analyses reveal that critical thinking does not occur in the singular, but rather comprises various thinking modes. In other words, it appears that dialogical critical thinking presupposes logical, creative, responsible and meta-cognitive thinking. It is the result of using the totality of these cognitive modes that represents critical thinking as it is manifested in pupils aged 10 to 12 during dialogue.

Thus logical thinking is the basis of any exchange (whether it be monological or dialogical); pupils come to formulate judgements mainly by using logical thinking.

Meta-cognitive thinking is the condition for dialogue since, if the meaning of the others' interventions are not understood, one cannot build on these interventions to stimulate the dialogue. Also, without meta-coguitive thinking, critical dialogue cannot take place, and improvement, precision and nuance in short, correction cannot manifest themselves.

On one hand, the manifestation of creative thinking in the discourse transforms the exchange from monological to dialogical and, on the other hand, it is related to the transcending of relativism and to the introduction of intersubjectivity. Our postulate is to the effect that the more the dialogue is critical, the more it becomes necessary to resort to creative thinking. Indeed critical dialogue is defined by a series of creative actions (divergence, doubt, questioning, opposition, etc.) which stimulate the pupils to: (a) listen and understand the points of view presented by their peers; (b) show imagination in order to enter a frame of reference that is not theirs (different or opposed); (c) use criteria to evaluate and compare the validity of each frame of reference elaborated by the community of inquiry; and (d) choose and justify the frame of reference that seems the most significant. Furthermore creative thinking is manifest in the contribution of divergent meanings or original and unexpected viewpoints which cause cognitive conflicts and, in so doing, engage the reflective process among peers. If criticism, doubt and questioning are essential to critical dialogue, it follows that the equilibrium between contesting and respect of differences is fundamental in order for the exchange to preserve its dialogical (vs. rhetorical) character. This implies that equilibrium is necessary between systematic rejection of statements and rejection of naive relativism, where each viewpoint is acceptable. Equilibrium finds its manifestation in the development of responsible thinking.

Indeed analysis of the transcripts clearly shows that the more the exchange is of a dialogical critical nature, the more manifest the pupils' responsibility towards behaviour and moral rules. Concurrently, when egocentricity prevails as epistemology, there is a complete absence of responsible thinking in the transcripts.

Also, from critical dialogue, the following categories emerged: conceptualisation, transformation, categorisation and correction--conceptualisation issuing from logical thinking; transformation from creative thinking; categorisation from responsible thinking; and correction from meta-coguitive thinking. The Lipmanian definition emphasises the following categories: conceptualisation, reasoning, generalisation and research. These, except for the latter which represents a general category relating to the process of inquiry itself, are related to logical thinking.

Lipman defines critical thinking according to the following criteria: sensitive to context, governed by criteria and self-correcting. In the reality of the classroom, on the other hand, during an exchange among pupils considered to be 'critical dialogue', these criteria did not emerge. First, our study indicates that sensitivity to context (perspective 2 of creative thinking in our grid) is not sufficient to bring the pupils to critical thinking; the only sensitivity manifested is in contextualising, and in an attempt to find an appropriate meaning. In fact, evaluating, questioning and proposing divergent and original meanings (perspective 3) contribute the most to creating cognitive conflicts in peers and, in so doing, impede their progress towards more complex reflection.

Secondly, if thinking is governed by criteria, it will be strict, pertinent and logical. In fact, logical thinking, taken alone, although it contributes to a complication of the exchange in that higher levels of abstraction become necessary for critical dialogue to take place, does not have the power to foster the pupils' engagement in critical dialogue; it must be accompanied by creative thinking that questions and evaluates criteria in an attempt to improve and invent more significant criteria.

Thirdly, following analysis of the transcripts, we consider that, in the context of dialogical critical thinking, it is more accurate to speak of correction rather than self-correction. Indeed self-correction brings the person back to the self; it therefore presupposes 'meta-cognition'. Correction, on the other hand, is part of a more global and more complex process, that of 'meta-cognitive thinking', which presupposes a reflection upon the group's reflection, as well as an evaluative control of the viewpoints and beliefs conveyed. From the perspective of inter-subjectivity, which lies within the scope of critical dialogue, the relation to the group is not only fundamental, but embodies its very essence. In other words, although self-correction is a significant element in the development of critical dialogue and dialogical critical thinking, it is not sufficient to characterise dialogue as critical.

In sum, our analyses shed a different light on the definition of critical thinking proposed by Lipman. In addition to their importance on the theoretical and conceptual level, the points that emerged from our analyses also contribute to the pedagogical field. Too often, we have observed teachers' enthusiasm while listening to their pupils express a plurality of well-thought-out ideas or when they hear them 'hold a dialogue', as if the combination of reflection and several ideas constitutes the advent of thought, or as if all dialogues were at once critical (see Daniel et al., 2002). Few teachers are aware that often, in these 'dazlling' exchanges, all ideas are juxtaposed without being questioned, all criteria are accepted as equally relevant and all principles are considered valid. Accordingly, how can these exchanges contribute to help pupils make meaningful choices if ideas, criteria, principles, etc. are not prioritised, selected, organised in a hierarchy, in short, evaluated? For school to fulfil its social function and provide generations of youngsters able to make enlightened choices for the common good, relativism must be surpassed (perspective 2 of the grid) and skills and attitudes related to dialogical critical thinking must be stimulated in youngsters (perspectives 3 and 4 of the grid). In order to do so, these pupils' teachers first must know what critical thinking is; they must recognise its manifestations, its constituent elements and its developmental process--hence the usefulness of the proposed grid. Indeed, by referring to the grid, they will be able to determine, for example, if their pupils are using logical thinking in their exchanges and if so, according to which epistemological perspective: perspective 1, if they cannot justify their point of view; perspective 2, if they need an incentive to express a complete and plausible justification; perspective 3, if they spontaneously and completely justify their point of view. And so on.

With regard to teaching and teacher training, Van Manen (1977) considers there are three levels of reflexivity: (a) centred on technical means to reach a given goal; (b) understood as the process of analysing meanings, hypotheses and perceptions underlying practical actions; (c) that incorporates critical questions dwelling on moral, ethical and political aspects of teaching and learning. Van Manen's third level characterises the critical teacher; it could correspond to epistemological perspectives 3 and 4 of our grid--inter-subjectivity.

In today's world, in which knowledge is exponential and technical actions are sometimes considered as a way to attain efficiency, teachers-to-be must not only learn to think of the how of their actions, but also of the why. We uphold that teacher training programs must strive towards the development of critical thinking or, in other words, that they must not be exclusively centred on the objective of knowledge acquisition, since a stock of knowledge is beneficial only to the extent that the student can create links between information, reorganise information to reach a personal goal such as solving a problem, analyse an argument, negotiate a point, etc. (Daniel, 1996).

Our hypothesis concerns the use of the dialogical critical thinking developmental grid in teacher training. Consequently we propose that it be used not only in academic classes where exchanges between pre-service teachers take place, but also during their teaching practice, when they exchange with pupils. At this time, the grid could, for example, be used to observe whether a trainee when reprimanding a pupil is able to add a meaningful explanation for the reprimand (logical thinking, perspective 3): if the trainee, in addition to providing pupils with the context for the information she or he passes on (creative thinking, perspective 2), is also able to suggest relevant and new relationships between theory and practice so as to cognitively destabilise the pupils and thus allow them for more meaningful learning experiences (creative thinking, perspective 4); if the trainee, in addition to listening to a pupil's point of view before reprimanding her or him (responsible thinking, perspective 2), is also able to establish links between deviant behaviours and school rules in order to evaluate the relevance of both (responsible thinking, perspective 3) or to encourage pupils to reflect upon the causes and consequences of their actions on the group (responsible thinking, perspective 4); if the trainee, in addition to descriptively taking stock of the teaching session (meta-cognitive thinking, perspective 2), is also able to evaluate it for improvement purposes (meta-cognitive thinking, perspective 3).


As our methodological postulate, we used Lipman's thesis, which considers critical thinking to be higher-order thinking (HOT). However, according to the definition elaborated by Lipman, multi-dimensional thinking includes critical, creative and responsible thinking. Thus critical thinking to Lipman is an entity of its own which functions autonomously in relation to the other thinking modes. Each of these modes is distinctive from the others, although interrelated with them. These are the elements of the definition which we wished to validate in elementary school pupils' thinking when engaged in philosophical discussions.

Analysis of twenty-four transcripts of exchanges among eight groups of pupils aged ten to twelve, from three cultural backgrounds (Australia, Mexico and Quebec), reveals that the youngsters are capable, when they have experience with the P4C approach for more than one school year, of exchanging according to a dialogical critical mode; and that many of them achieve, thanks to this environment, an epistemological perspective anchored in inter-subjectivity oriented towards meaning.

Hereafter the next challenge consists in transcending the theoretical dimension and applying the proposed grid to exchanges among pupils, to educate future generations in a more global manner, and thus, as Lipman pointed out, provide them with the tools to counter opinions (uncritical thinking) and thoughtless action. To this end, it would be appropriate to see university professors also use the grid to guide future teachers in their discourse and teaching methods.


creative thinking criteria critical thinking dialogues discourse philosophy for children


(1) Let us specify that there exist other models to analyse pupil discourse, namely the Pragmadialectic model that takes into account implicit sequences (see Slade, n.d.).

(2) For details about the grid's constituent elements, see Daniel et al. (in press).

(3) In this study, we do not analyse pupils as individuals, but rather the group as a whole.


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Dr Marie-France Darnel is Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Universite de Montreal, C.P.6128 succ. Centre-Ville, Montreal (Quebec), H3C 3J7 Canada.

Dr Laurance Splitter is Professor, Department of Education, Hunter College, City University of New York, 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10021, United States of America.

Dr Christina Slade is Dean of Humanities, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales 2109.

Dr Louise Lafortune is Professor, Department of Education, Universite du Quebec a Trois-Rivieres, 3351 Boulevard des Forges (C.P. 500), Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, G9A 5H7 Canada.

Dr Richard Pallascio is Professor, Department of Mathematics, Universite du Quebec Montreal, C.P. 8888, succ. Centre-Ville, Montreal, Quebec, H3C 3P8 Canada.

Dr Pierre Mongeau is Professor, Department of Communications, Universite du Quebec Montreal, C.P. 8888, succ. Centre-Ville, Montreal, Quebec, H3C 3P8 Canada. E-mail:

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Author:Harrison, Neil
Publication:Australian Journal of Education
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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