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Critical Thinking through a Multicultural Lens: Cultural Challenges of Teaching Critical Thinking

  • Maha Bali

Abstract

When I first started doing research about critical thinking (CT), I had not realized how contested a notion (Atkinson 1997) it was, even though it is widely accepted as an important goal of (at least Western) higher education (Barnett 1997; Norris 1995). Most people agree that critical thinking is essential for citizens to participate actively in a democracy (Brookfield 1987; Johnson and Morris 2010; ten Dam and Volman 2004). There is also a need for citizens to criticize the systems and hierarchies in which they live, whether academic or corporate, whether in a democratic state or not, questioning and challenging even the structures within which we conduct critical thinking. Some scholars claim that critical thinking is culturally biased (e.g., Atkinson 1997; Fox 1994; Norris 1995), which is a view I initially dismissed, because the ideas and practices of CT exist in my own Egyptian Islamic culture. Some scholars argue that viewing critical thinking as distant from non-Anglo (i.e., non-English speaking) cultures is a symptom of misunderstandings (Ennis 1998), and even ignorance of, and condescension toward non-Westerners’ capacities for rational thinking (Nussbaum 1997). Claims of cultural distance or difference are often presented under the guise of cultural sensitivity, while hiding reductionist and deficit-oriented tendencies (Zamel 1997).

Keywords

Critical Thinking Cultural Capital Online Discussion Linguistic Ability Islamic Scholarship 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Martin Davies and Ronald Barnett 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maha Bali

There are no affiliations available

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