The Critical Thinking Approach

There are five basic principles to the critical thinking approach:

  • Knowledge is not fixed, but always subject to re-examination and change
  • There is no question which cannot, or should not, be asked
  • Awareness of, and empathy for, alternative world views is essential
  • There is a need of tolerance and ambiguity
  • There is need of a skeptical attitude towards text


What is critical thinking?

Notions of critical thinking and its applications for teaching and learning have been around, some say, since Socrates. The American philosopher, psychologist and educator, John Dewey, is generally credited for initiating the tradition of critical thinking pursued today. Although he called it 'reflective thinking', he viewed it as an active process; one in which the thinker is responsible for engaging in thinking about a topic, rather than passively receiving information about it. As a result, notions of critical thinking are often linked to the following active ways of engaging in a topic:

  • interpreting
  • analyzing
  • assessing
  • categorizing
  • predicting
  • formulating concepts
  • synthesizing
  • evaluating
  • judging
  • speculating
  • hypothesizing

Critical thinking is also: