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Critical Thinking, Engagement and Compassion

ThinkingA few weeks ago, I stumbled on a book entitled Teaching Critical Thinking: A Practical Wisdom. The title intrigued me, and I was heartened to note that the author is one whom I had enjoyed reading and had, in fact, cited when completing my Masters of Education culminating paper many years ago. American author bell hooks is a feminist and social activist and currently teaches at Berea College in Kentucky. I have always enjoyed her insights as she ties her beliefs in teaching to the importance of engaging diversity of every kind.

In my mind, critical thinking is essential to ensuring engagement of both teacher and student, and to challenging oneself and each other to question, contribute and facilitate change and growth in and outside the classroom.

According to hooks, “The ability to think is the mark of responsible citizenship, where free speech and the will to dissent is accepted and encouraged…Engaged pedagogy makes us better learners because it asks us to embrace and explore the practice of knowing together, to see intelligence as a resource that can strengthen our common good.”

Furthermore, hooks writes that “the true intellectual, who always finds the courage to seek the truth beyond ego or fixed notions of the nature of things, is always walking a compassionate path.”

It is this link from engaged teaching and learning to strengthening the common good that is of utmost importance to St. Clement’s. As we continue to challenge our girls through two-way conversation, whether it be in the classroom or outside, we see the ongoing development of our girls’ curiosity, courage and compassion- the traits that we wish for them beyond their time at the School.

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