Assignment 1.1 Types of Knowing-We live in an information dominated society. Every day, like it or not, we are bombarded with facts, figures, news, and opinions; we are connected to countless information sources about are local community, our society, and our world. Given all the ways of knowing that is available to us, and given our growing ability to get exactly the information that we want through our personal computers, cell phones, and other ever evolving communication technologies, as a student in this course you might wonder why you need to learn about the methodological and labor-intensive procedures of research methods. “Can’t I get all the information you need from the radio, TV, neswpapers and magazines or surfing online?” But how are you to know which information is the” right” information. How are you to decide what information to trust? To answer these questions, you need to give some thought to the various sources of knowledge that drive are information society. You need also to consider if some sources of knowledge are more worthy of your trust than others.Reference: Essentials of Research Methods-A Guide to Social Science Research_Janet M. Ruane_2005Assignment 1.1: Types of Knowing1. What are the different ways of “knowing” as identified by Neuman & Robson (2012)? And, how does the scientific method of knowing differ from other types of knowing?Assignment 1.2: Understanding of Critical ThinkingIdentify a social issue, a theory or a practice model of interest (choose ONE only). Apply one of the four critical thinking tools in Bermudez(2015) (e. g. problem posing, reflexive skepticism, multi-perspectivity and systemic thinking) to critically think about the selected issue, theory or practice model. Post a thread to share key critical questions and insights into the selected issue, theory or practice model.


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Revista de Estudios Sociales No. 52 • rev.estud.soc. • Pp. 256.
ISSN 0123-885X • Bogotá, abril – junio de 2015 • Pp. 102-118.
Four Tools for Critical Inquiry in History,
Social Studies, and Civic Education*
Angela Bermudez*
Received date: May 30, 2014
A cce p ta nce date: S e p te m be r 30, 2014
M o d ifica tio n date: D ece m b e r 19, 2014
DOI: http://dx.doi.Org/10.7440/res52.2015.07
The promotion of critical thinking is an important but elusive goal in history, social studies, and civic education. Teachers often
struggle to translate general definitions of critical thinking into specific pedagogical tools to plan learning activities and to
observe and interpret student work in these subjects. They also struggle to distinguish between “teaching critical content”
and “teaching students to think critically.” In this paper, I draw upon scholarship on critical thinking, history education, moral
education, and critical pedagogy to propose four tools for critical inquiry in the social domain: Problem-posing, Reflective
skepticism, Multi-perspectivity and Systemic thinking. I describe how each tool works, discussing how they integrate the
epistemic purpose of fostering good understanding with the social purpose of cultivating thoughtful, responsible, pluralist and
non-violent citizens.
Critical inquiry, critical thinking, history education, social studies education, civic education, critical pedagogy.
Cuatro herramientas para la indagación crítica en la enseñanza de la historia, las
ciencias sociales y la educación ciudadana
La promoción del pensamiento crítico es un objetivo importante pero escurridizo en la enseñanza de la historia, las ciencias
sociales y la educación ciudadana. A muchos docentes les cuesta traducir las definiciones generales de pensamiento crítico
en herramientas pedagógicas específicas para planear sus clases y para evaluar el trabajo de sus estudiantes. A veces se
confunde “enseñar contenidos críticos” y “enseñar a pensar críticamente.” En este artículo propongo cuatro herramientas para
la indagación crítica en el ámbito social: Pensamiento problémico, escepticismo reflexivo, multiperspectividad y pensamiento
sistémico. Para su definición retomo elementos de la literatura sobre el pensamiento crítico, la enseñanza de la historia,
la educación moral y la pedagogía crítica. Describo lo que cada herramienta nos permite hacer, y cómo cada una de ellas
articula la función epistémica de fomentar la comprensión con la función social de cultivar ciudadanos reflexivos, responsables,
pluralistas y no-violentos.
Indagación crítica, pensamiento crítico, enseñanza de la historia, enseñanza de las ciencias sociales, educación ciudadana,
pedagogía crítica.
This p a p e r re sults fro m th e th e o re tic a l research c o n d u c te d as p a rt o f th e a u th o r’s D o c to ra l D is s e rta tio n , “T h in k in g C ritic a lly T o g e th e r: T h e In te lle c tu a l
and D iscursive D ynam ics o f C o n tro ve rsia l C o n ve rsa tio n s,” at th e H arvard G ra d u a te S chool o f E d u c a tio n (2008). F u n d in g was p ro v id e d b y th e S pencer
F o u n d a tio n th ro u g h a D o c to ra l D is s e rta tio n Fello w ship .
D o c to r in E d u ca tio n (H arva rd G ra d u a te S chool o f E d u ca tio n , U n ite d States). S e n io r R esearcher o f th e C e n te r fo r A p p lie d Ethics a t D e u s to U niversity,
Spain. H er la te st p u b lic a tio n s in c lu d e A n a lyzin g C ritica l R eflection W ith in R ela tio na l a n d S o c io c u ltu ra l C on te xts: M a k in g th e Case fo r th e N e e d to In te ­
g ra te C o g n itiv e a n d D iscursive A p p ro a ch e s. SAGE Cases in M e th o d o lo g y . T h o u s a n d O aks Sage P ublishers, 2014, a nd “Y o u th C ivic E n g a g e m e n t: D ecline
o r T ra n sfo rm a tio n ? A C ritic a l R eview.” Jo u rn a l o f M o ra l E d u catio n 41, n °4(2 0 1 2): 529-542. E-m ail: a ng e b er@ d e usto .e s
Four Tools for Critical Inquiry in History, Social Studies, and Civic Education
Angela Bermudez
Quatro ferramentas para a ¡ndagagao crítica no ensino da historia, das ciencias
sociais e da educagao cidada
A promogáo do pensamento crítico é um objetivo importante, mas escorregadio, no ensino da historia, das ciencias sociais
e da educagao cidadá. Para muitos docentes, é difícil traduzir as definigoes gerais de pensamento crítico em ferramentas
pedagógicas específicas para planejar suas aulas e avaliar o trabalho de seus estudantes. Ás vezes se confunde “ensinar
conteúdos críticos” e “ensinar a pensar criticamente”. Neste artigo proponho quatro ferramentas para a ¡ndagagao crítica no
ámbito social: Pensamento problémico, ceticismo reflexivo, multlperspectividade e pensamento sistémico. Para sua definigáo,
retomo elementos da literatura acerca do pensamento crítico, o ensino da historia, a educagao moral e a pedagogía crítica.
Descrevo o que cada ferramenta nos permite fazer e como cada urna délas articula a fungao epistémica de fomentar a
compreensáo com a fungao social de cultivar cidadaos reflexivos, responsáveis, pluralistas e nao violentos.
Indagagio crítica, pensamento crítico, ensino da historia, ensino das ciencias sociais, educagao cidada, pedagogía crítica.
of current public issues, enduring moral dilemmas, and
competing historical narratives. However, in spite of this
wide appeal, research shows that critical deliberation is
rare in the classroom, and when it does happen, it is often
of low quality (Hess 2004). Many teachers recognize the
opportunities that education in the social domain offers
for cultivating critical thinking; they value this goal and
are willing to organize their teaching around it. However,
when the “rubber meets the road,” many teachers stmggle
to move from abstract statements to concrete practice.
Over the years that I have been working with teachers, I
have come to identify three recurrent sources of struggle:
We Uve amid bewildering complexities. Obtuseness and refusal of
vision are ourbesetting vices. Responsible lucidity can be wrested
from that darkness only by painful, vigilant effort, the intense
scrutiny of particulars. Our highest and hardest task is to make
ourselves people “on whom nothing is lost.” This is a claim about
our ethical task, as people who are trying to live well.
(Nussbaum 1990,148)
he promotion of critical thinking has been
a longstanding goal of education. Often
connected to active inquiry-based learning,
it is assumed to empower students to take
charge of problems they face in real life, from
a. Teachers appreciate the general notion of critical
abstract puzzles in intellectual endeavors to the practical
thinking, but they find it hard to translate into
challenges of participating in a community. Advocates
a specific pedagogy that fits the requirements of
of critical thinking stress that this kind of pedagogy is
teaching subjects in the social domain. Most of the
necessary if we want students to construct deep and
sophisticated understanding, and if we aspire to make
literature on critical thinking focuses on general
what they learn useful in their lives, relevant to their
cognitive skills (e.g. analysis and inference) that are
at the basis of thoughtful learning in any discipline.
world, and supportive of their flourishing as human
But how do the general skills of critical thinking fit in
beings (Dewey 1933; Duckworth 2006; Perkins 1995).
with the more particular thought processes required
Others support this idea by adding that critical thinkers
develop skills and dispositions that are essential to
in the social sciences and humanities?
sensitive, informed, tolerant and active citizens who
b. Even within the social domain, critical thinking
are able to sustain a democratic culture (Barber 1989;
carries different meanings. Some stress the capacity
Glaser 1985; Cutmann andThompson 2004; Levine 2007;
to propose plausible arguments that are well supported
Nussbaum 2006; Parker 1996).
by evidence, while others highlight the formation
of autonomous judgment, or the capacity to hold
This connection between critical thinking and democratic
discrepant perspectives. Still others insist that what
ideals is appealing to many educators in subjects such as
defines critical inquiry is the capacity to form systemic
history, social studies, and civic education. International
depictions of power relations and of the causes and
literature on education for democracy includes countless
dynamics of conflict. It is challenging for teachers
academic publications, policy documents and curricula
to reconcile these ideas that come from disparate
theoretical traditions.
that advocate engaging students in the critical discussion
Revista de Estudios Sociales No. 52 • rev.estud.soc. • Pp. 256.
ISSN 0123-885X • Bogotá, abril – junio de 2015 • Pp. 102-118.
c. Teachers struggle to distinguish between “teaching
critical content” and “teaching students to think
critically.” This becomes particularly tricky as
important bodies of critical theory regarding issues
like race, gender, and class make their way into school
curricula. This move is indeed important, but it begs the
question: Does teaching critical content develop critical
thinking? Are the two things aligned? Not necessarily.
In fact, when the teaching of “critical content” is not
well supported by “critical inquiry,” it easily results in a
perplexing paradox that I call “critical dogmatism.”
operations and claim different epistemic and social
purposes. Such diversity is what leads me to propose a
four-tool model of critical inquiry.
While it is true that each tradition puts more weight
on some tools and less on others, there is no simple
correspondence that would allows us to assert that one
tool derives exclusively from one tradition, or that these
traditions understand critical inquiry as the use of one
single tool. The dialogue between these distinct bodies
of literature is valuable precisely because they offer
different angles from which to conceptualize the four
critical inquiry tools. In what follows, I review how
the notion of critical thinking appears in these four
traditions, revealing both divergences and convergences
among them. Then, in the next section, I characterize
each tool, drawing selectively on the work of scholars
from the different traditions that help us understand
their nature and potential.
In this paper I draw upon scholarship on critical thinking,
history education, moral education and critical pedagogy
to identify and characterize four core tools for critical
inquiry in the social domain: Problem-posing, Reflective
skepticism, Multi-perspectivity, and Systemic thinking. These tools
capture the particularities of critical thinking applied to
social issues in subjects such as history, social studies
and civics. While there are conceptual and procedural
differences among these fields, these four tools highlight
critical traits that cut across them. I will describe how
each tool works and discuss how they integrate the
epistemic purpose of fostering deep understanding with
the social purpose of cultivating thoughtful, responsible
and pluralist citizens that are able and willing to manage
conflict in non-violent ways.
Critical Thinking
The concept of critical thinking developed primarily in
the fields of philosophy (epistemology), education and
cognitive psychology. According to what is known today
as the Critical Thinking Movement, critical thinking
consists ofapurposeful, meta-cognitive and self-corrective
process in which individuals monitor the quality of their
thinking, detecting and rectifying flaws in arguments,
thinking procedures, problem-solving strategies, and
decision-making processes (Ennis 2962; Lipman 2003; Paul
2990; Siegel rg88). In Ennis’s words, “Critical thinking
is reflective and reasonable thinking that is focused on
deciding what to believe or do” (Ennis 1985, 45). This
approach focuses on the appraisal of arguments following
criteria of formal and informal logic, which are thought
to set the standards for intellectual accountability. Thus,
in this tradition, critical thinking consists of a host
of general cognitive skills such as analysis, inference,
evaluation, interpretation, explanation, as well as a
dispositional dimension characterized as “a critical spirit,
a probing inquisitiveness, a keenness of mind, a zealous
dedication to reason, and a hunger or eagerness for
reliable information” (Facione 2990, n). After an intense
discussion about whether critical thinking is contentneutral or domain-specific (Ennis 2990; McPeck 1990),
most in the Critical Thinking Movement consider that
while critical thinking skills and dispositions transcend
specific disciplines, exercising them adequately
demands domain-specific knowledge of concepts and
methods (Facione 1990).
Different Theoretical Traditions
Problem-posing, reflective skepticism, multi-perspectivity and
systemic thinking address different facets of critical
inquiry that allow us to examine and shed light
on different challenges posed by social issues.
My intention in characterizing four distinct
tools is precisely to stress that critical inquiry is
multidimensional. This is most evident when we
examine different bodies of literature that have
advanced particular conceptions of critical thinking.
Scholars in critical thinking, history education, moral
education, and critical pedagogy define different ways
of knowing and reflective qualities that are deemed
necessary for a sophisticated understanding of social
issues. These four traditions of research (and practice)
are rarely put into conversation with one another;
but if we do so, their different approaches appear to
be complementary rather than irreconcilable. They
share common goals such as fostering inquisitiveness,
informed reflection, independent thinking, and
rigorous performance. Yet, in defining the essence
of “critical,” they emphasize different intellectual
Four Tools for Critical Inquiry in History, Social Studies, and Civic Education
Angela Bermudez
History Education
traditions, and b) engage with these dilemmas and
controversies through reasoned dialogue, seeking to
recognize different viewpoints and coordinate them in
judgments and choices that are comprehensive, fair,
and responsive to rights and needs of different parties
in conflict. Moral judgment becomes critical in so far
as it takes reflective distance from one’s egocentric
and socio-centric perspective, and is self-directed, yet
sensitive to and inclusive of others.
Scholarship on history education integrates the
epistemology of history with cognitive-developmental
psychology and constructivist pedagogy. While
recognizing the importance of general cognitive skills,
researchers in this field argue that history education
must teach core concepts and procedures that are
specific to the subject matter and epistemology of
historical inquiry (Carretero and Voss 1994; Dickinson,
Lee and Rogers 1984; Shemilt 1980; Stearns Seixas
and Wineburg 2000). Historical understanding
rests —they claim—on particular thinking processes
involved in establishing the significance of historical
events in relation to present concerns, developing
plausible explanations through the heuristics of
corroboration and sourcing, contextualizing beliefs
and social practices, coordinating processes of change
and continuity, and crafting multivocal narratives
and multicausal accounts. The term critical thinking is
not very common in this literature, but the concept
of historical thinking advanced in it assumes that these
thinking processes allow students to build a disciplined
understanding of the past that is significant, rigorous,
explanatory and interpretative. Some scholars argue
that such historical understanding also matters
because it helps students gain a critical understanding
of the connections between past and present, social
and personal issues, and historical processes and
civic matters (Barton and Levstik 2004; Bermudez and
Jaramillo 2001; Carretero and Bermudez 2012; Seixas
2004). In this sense, historical understanding is
thought to provide a reflective basis for values such as
global awareness, pluralism, and respect for diversity,
independent thinking, and openness to controversial
Critical Pedagogy
Drawing upon scholarship in neo-Marxist philosophy,
social sciences, and the humanities, Critical Pedagogy
develops a reflective critique of the ways knowledge
is constructed and communicated within social,
cultural and political relationships that organize
practice. Freire (1970) coined the seminal distinction
between “emancipatory” and “banking” education,
based on which he and others (Brookfield 1987;
Freire and Faundez 1989; Giroux 1994; McLaren, 1994)
conceptualized the educational goal of fostering
“critical consciousness.” In doing so, these scholars
brought to the field of education the Frankfurt School’s
claim that the purpose of knowledge was to “liberate
human beings from the circumstances that enslave
them” (Horkheimer 1982, 244). Habermas (1971)
furthered this claim by arguing that the technical
interest in prediction and control is but one of three
legitimate interests. Knowledge —he said—may only
be driven by a hermeneutical interest in understanding
the meaning of human expressions and/or by an
emancipatory interest in transforming oppressive
realities. Critical Pedagogy thus points to two distinct
layers of critical inquiry. In one layer, the object of
analysis are the processes of knowledge production
and communication, which are assessed against
epistemological criteria of truth and considering the
conditions for respectful dialogue among participants.
Here, critical inquiry consists of deconstructing the
power relationships that frame knowledge, revealing
bias, hidden assumptions, propaganda and ideological
manipulation, and empowering students to construct
their own knowledge. In the second layer, the object
of critical inquiry is social relationships and practices
in themselves, which are examined against ethical
criteria such as justice and recognition. Here, critical
inquiry consists of revealing and explaining the deep
structural forces that regulate societies, seeking to
empower students to transform dehumanizing and
oppressive realities.
Moral Education
Since the late 1970s, research on moral education
has drawn on ethical philosophy, developmental
psychology, and constructivist pedagogy to show
that individuals can develop the capacity for moral
reflection and judgment, which becomes increasingly
inclusive, principled, and independent of the dictates
of established authorities (Cilligan 1982; Kohlberg
1984; Selman2003). In this tradition, critical judgment
consists of an active process in which participants a)
recognize multiple moral dilemmas and contested
issues that cannot be resolved relying simply on
personal preferences, formed habits, and social
Revista de Estudios Sociales No. 52 • rev.estud.soc. • Pp. 256.
ISSN 0123-885X • Bogotá, abril – ju n io de 2015 • Pp. 102-118.
Table i. Different Approaches to Critical Inquiry
Theoretical Tradition
“Critical” consists of
Critical Thinking M ovement
M eta-cognitive assessm ent of argu­
m ents and reasoning
Self-correction, m onitoring quality
of thinking and knowledge
History Education
Disciplined sourcing, m ulti-causal
and contextualized explanations
Plausible accounts and explanations
of historical events and processes
Moral Education
Independent judgm ent th at coordi­
nates relevant perspectives
Independent belief and fair choices
of action
Critical Pedagogy
Deconstructing / revealing power re­
lations and social structures
H um an liberati …
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