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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Chris Sowton - The critical thinking ecosystem- why it’s everybody’s responsibility

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focus my talk today is gonna be fairly

wide-ranging thinking about critical

thinking ecosystem so the interconnected

way that critical thinking works and

also using some of my experience from

working on developing critical thinking

programs and doing training in different

parts of the world just to give a little

bit more background information about my

experience specifically with critical

thinking so I have taught it at

university level and also as an embedded

component within English for academic


I wrote unlock first edition one of the

books there where there's a very strong

critical thinking component and when

Cambridge revised and created the second

editions of unlock I was the critical

thinking editor across all ten books so

it's going back to those original first

editions and looking at how all the

critical thinking could be sharpened and

focused and and really brought out as

much as possible related to that with

the second edition of unlock there's a

whole new suite of teacher development

material as well specifically focused on

critical thinking and I'll be talking a

little bit more about this in detail

later on and then as I said I've done

critical thinking work in several

countries including Jordan Turkey and

Saudi Arabia so interesting to see some

of the similarities differences

challenges different understanding and

assumptions about critical thinking in

all of those places and in my talk today

I'm going to hopefully use critical

thinking embedded within it and using a

Socratic method so a dialectical

approach to what we're doing so posing a

series of questions and trying to answer

those so we talked about a dialectical

approach a form of cooperative

argumentative dialogue between

individuals based on asking and

answering questions to stimulate

critical thinking draw out ideas an

underlying presuppositions and what

we're going to do is is a partnership

with me and

you and getting your ideas as well to

feed into this process this quotation

highlights actually one of the things

that one of the small things but I think

it's quite a big thing with in how we

approach critical thinking or how its

perceived around the world so this is a

quotation direct from Wikipedia which

often people would say you can't use

Wikipedia is one of those sacred cows

that we're not allowed to use it's one

of those sacred cows I would challenge

and I think it doesn't necessarily

reflect where things are at this is just

a random quotation there are many more

like this off of an academic saying the

Wikipedia is a reputable source and it's

not to say Wikipedia is perfect but it's

one of those issues that I think as a

community we need to engage with more in

this picture to show this idea we're

trying to somehow stop this stem and the

of information when actually we should

be engaging with it with it more so the

structure of the presentation will be

framed around six particular questions

why is it important

looking at the institutional level and

how critical thinking works there and

then more at the the classroom level

teachers and learners before looking at

how its conceptualized and assessed more

generally ELT is an industry and then

looking at series of changes or

recommendations from my own experience

there that I believe should be made so

it's say fairly fairly wide ranging kind

of scope and throughout I'll be asking

you to contribute your ideas through a

padlet site so this is a padlet site

which some of you may have used before

it's a very useful site for for getting

audiences or students views of

particular issues you just click on the

cross at the bottom and you're able to

add whatever you want to do and then I'm

just going to set you a small critical

thinking question to to test the test

the waters on this I'm going to show you

a picture some of you may be familiar

with this already I'm just going to very

quickly ask you to take ten seconds and

to write on the paddle it's

I what you see so if you just write on

the site and then we'll flick back is it

connected okay good so we've got some so

duck a seagull

rabbit rabbit duck and a rabbit ducks

head and so on okay someone's using

emojis are using non linguistic forms to

convey what they can see okay thank you

we could switch back to presentation so

yeah this is a duck rabbit

okay and it was conceived by the

philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein who's

buried just a few hundred yards away

from where we are today and I think it's

a useful idea for when we think about

critical thinking the critical thinking

duck radish so what do we see

do we see one or the other thing do we

see a dark or a rabbit or some sort of

composition of both and I think when we

talk about critical thinking what do we

actually mean by that and often

institutions managers teachers

publishers etc do they see it in the

same way and my answer to that question

is very often they don't they see things

in a different way and this comes back

to this quotation by Vic and Stein he

says when we look at the figure I scan

it repeatedly always following a

particular path so the meaning of the

concept lies in the experience and I

think sometimes there is this

theoretical understanding of what

critical thinking is and a reality in

classrooms or how its conceptualized by

those different stakeholders can be very

very different so the first question

again if I could ask you to contribute

to the padlet site here just 30 seconds

why is critical thinking so important so

if you could just write a short sentence

on the site why is it why are you here

today why is there a talk about it why

is it in so many books why is critical

thinking so important

and if we could flick to the website

please okay

it's showing the other side of the coin

living in an information-rich world with

a lot to process it teaches us to ask

questions it's an interesting one it's a

lifelong ability and if I could carry on

with the presentation and give you some

my thoughts on this which I think we'll

probably echo a lot of what you've said

here so first and foremost it's the

academic pathways so something still a

cultural rights about saying they're

essential to those progressing to higher

levels of academic studies which

something was true 14 years ago and is

even more true potentially today's a way

to get to to further study and indeed so

often is it sort of almost seen in quasi

religious ways Pappa Stefano and Anjali

call it the promised land

this almost evangelical idea that

critical thinking can solve so many

problems can be such an important aspect

of English language teaching if we look

at just a website for example from the

University of Edinburgh and here it's

very much looking at the instrumental

value is a sea of critical thinking it

affects your academic success infects

your employability so one very strong

the instrumental value the academic

pathways and also the links to

employability but I think there's other

aspects as well which are often not

thought about with with critical

thinking and often are not conveyed

necessarily in in textbooks so there's a

good citizenship aspect to it as well

enabling learners to see beyond their

immediate situations this is from David

Grado in English neck saying in a

globalised postmodern world in order to

participate both in a new economy but

just not the economic aspects of that

but as a responsible citizen is also

really really important that idea of the

flexibility of skills and as you know

there again this was written some time

ago now you know with the gig economy

and so on

jobs changing all the time you know I

read a reporter than 20 50 you know half

the jobs which will be existing 20 50

and not yet invented now this idea that

we are preparing young learners at the

moment for this future this unknown

future so that flexibility is very very

important critical thinking feeds very

much directly into that in another I

think quote which summarizes this nicely

the ability to think critically has

become a fundamental learning outcome

it's expected to do that if we don't do

it then somehow a course or a book is

remiss if that's avoided and again

sometimes we imagine the counterfactual

if we imagine a course or book which

stated it did not include critical

thinking on it it would you know it

would absolutely tank you would fail

unlock second edition with no critical

thinking it's something we've come to

expect it's a norm of all new textbooks

all new courses that these words are put

in but often I don't think we really

know what we mean by that and we

understand it in those different ways

and indeed there's been you know over

time a critical tradition against the

idea of critical thinking itself as well

and I think it's worth just exploring

some of those ideas as well so for

example it's a reductive hegemonic

post-enlightenment project which

presents a narrow conceptualization of

knowledge that it's saying this is one

form of knowledge but it doesn't take

into account other forms of knowledge

and knowledge production and it's as a

result of that a conceptualization that

is not universal there are different

ways of thinking there aren't

necessarily taken into account for the

term itself as we mentioned is contested

and it's very different how its applied

in practice and also between different

disciplines so I think often there is a

gap between the theory and the practice

but and also in terms of the practice

how it's understood between for example

different academic departments other

criticisms that it's not a teachable

skill that actually we're asking a lot

of teachers

to teach this and we're specifically

asking a lot of ELT English language

teachers to be able to deliver this at

what point did teaching critical

thinking become part of being an English

language teacher I would say that you

know that's been happening over a long

long period of time but they're quite

separate set of skills and there's quite

a number of expectations if we're asking

English language teachers to also be

critical thinking teachers it's an

additional luxury classroom practice

which does not help learners passed

exams and progress whatever that means

when I was recently in Turkey doing some

work for Cambridge University Press

on critical thinking her department had

asked me to go there and talk about

critical thinking but she herself was

actually quite critical about the idea

of it she said you know she was quite

out front and she said I want you here

because my teachers won't learn about

critical thinking but I think it's a

waste of time because it doesn't help

pass those exams doesn't help her

Department meet the targets that she's

had from her University and the sloth

problem is perceived and taught as a

product rather than a process it's a

body of information to be learnt and

acquired rather than something which

necessarily changes the way that we work

and I'll come on to that more in a bit

more detail later ok again if I could

ask you to go back to your phones or

computers just 30 seconds how much

critical thinking is found at the

institutional level so if you think of

the institutions that you work in

universities schools ministries whatever

it may be

how much critical thinking do you find

there on a regular basis if you could

just add some thoughts there not much

success to the point not much again okay

quite a lot though here different view

we were invited to analyze our systems

and processes

and make positive contributions and

critiques very little dare to say so

quite a mostly it seems not a lot but

there are a few perhaps isolated

examples where people wherever it's

possible particularly racist news okay

so I think you know I'm looking more

here at the actual institution itself

and how the institution operates so we

could flip back thank you

I start this section just by looking at

this quotation which is from a course

run by the University of Liverpool on

creativity and critical thinking for

researchers about generating and

evaluating it is exploring assumptions

how to identify problems etc etc I put

this quote up because there was a story

in the British news about 18 months ago

where a conservative writer and

journalist Peter Hitchens went to the

University of Liverpool to give a talk

about the war on drugs and he was asked

to sign an agreement about altered to

declare what he was going to talk about

when he was at the University which he

then refused to do and instead to make

his point he climbed on his soapbox as

his headline says after refusing to sign

the university's free speech contracts

and it was something I found really

interesting to see this and it seems to

be to tie into a wider set of things

that are happening certainly British

universities in recent times and this

includes things like no platforming so a

form of boycott where a personal

organization has denied the opportunity

to speak they're simply not allowed to

come and express their views the idea of

creating safe spaces at an institution

does not tolerate hate speech harassment

violent with dissenting views and so

therefore creating a safe space for

people and also trigger warnings so

which a statements given at the

beginning of a lecture seminar which

alerts students to the fact that it

might contain things which they find

distressing you know I'm personal

not taking any particular position on

these things I think a lot of these

ideas do come from a good place but I

think there's a real challenge

especially for students if they're

coming from overseas to the UK where

they've been learning about critical

thinking where all the books they being

seen have been talking about critical

thinking and seeing all sides of the

story and allowing free speech and all

these things and when they come to those

institutions there's perhaps a very

different emphasis which is given the

very fact that you've been learning

about critical thinking of free speech

you come here and then there are things

like no platforming save spaces and

trigger warnings so I think it can be

very difficult often for students to

assimilate that and there's other things

that it can lead to as well so this you

can't read this but like this was a

letter sent by an MP to all the vice

chancellors of universities about so we

have to talk about brexit but it's I

think it's inevitable these days where

we are so I was wondering if you'd be so

kind as to me supply me with the names

of your professors at your establishment

who are involved in a teacher in

European affairs with a particular

reference to brexit so this is by a

sitting MP to university Vice

Chancellors again seeming to contradict

almost the fundamental principle of

university certainly universities in the

West you know which since 1088 in the

University of Bologna has been the focus

of seeking after truth and allowing

freedom of speech to get to a particular

answer and so much of that influenced

laterally by John Stuart Mill from the

18th century in his idea of intellectual

pacification if you don't allow the

exploration or the discussion of these

sorts of things

then intellectual critique and so on

does not go anywhere

it's pacified ease it's restricted now

his view was based on the the harm

principle and I think this has been

certainly over the last 200 years a very

very influential idea the idea that

you're allowed to you should be allowed

to discuss things and talk about things

up to the point where you harm somebody

else and it seems to me now we're in a

process where

perhaps that paradigm is being

re-evaluated my view is that in this

sort of the present day with the changes

in the world the political changes and

so on and not just brexit but in other

areas as well the critical thinking is

more important than ever and that

university of a more important role than

ever in pushing forward critical

thinking but they should espouse that in

what terms of what they do not just in

terms of what they say you know we're in

an environment now we're certainly with

a lot of politicians can see the idea of

changing your mind of showing critical

thinking is a sign of weakness

it's emasculating there we are need to

look at some important influential

political figures nowadays to see that's

the case the idea that you would rewind

or some things or rethink certain things

it's not even really countenanced this

quotation here critical thinking means

question not only assumptions of others

but also questioning your own

assumptions you know when Donald Trump

is shouting fake news there's very

little evidence of that and I think

universities more than ever have to be

pushing that forward because with our

political leaders that's not necessarily

taking place but if we think away from

the macro more down to this for example

the departmental level they said perhaps

also the case as well so here not TTT

and stt so teacher talking time and

director talking time so in staff

meetings how much the teachers talk

how much do directors talk and I like

this quotation which is taken from a

blog by Alex Wright I have a suspicion

that all not all employers want their

employees to be critical thinkers or if

they do they don't want there to be

critical thinkers all of the time and I

think certainly my own experience of

previous departmental managers this is

very much the case you know teach

critical thinking to your students but

don't be too critical in staff meetings

etc etc so I think again there are

perhaps contradictions in terms of how

critical thinking takes place within the

ecosystem of the organization and


okay what the teachers and learners

think about critical thinking again

please just add your thoughts 30 seconds

learners take you for granted yeah I

think that's certainly that's certainly

the case outcome and progress teachers

think it's important learners don't

always know yes it's something they're

told to do and I think that's again

perhaps one of the challenges that they

become they have very little agency in

terms of doing this I don't necessarily

know why they are learning critical

thinking or they don't know what to do

with it always it's a waste of time nice

of you okay thank you so begin this

section with this I think quite

interesting quotation this is by a

novice teacher a novice EAP teacher what

she says when she started I turned to

more experienced colleagues for advice

but from doing this she found that many

of her colleagues were equally unsure

about what critical thinking was and I

think this is a common thing that

teachers don't always know what critical

thinking is or they don't necessarily

know how to teach it and I think it

comes down to different perceptions of

what it is but also that again it's come

back to this idea why are English

language teachers responsible for

teaching critical thinking so Cambridge

last year tried to do something to find

out more about this and actually did got

some quantitative data rather than just

sort of qualitative feedback or

anecdotal information we involved a

thousand teachers from 81 countries so

it's quite a wide sample it is all

available online on the CEP site and

from this 93 percent of the respondents

agree it's important to develop students

critical thinking skills but only 20%

said that academic English courses

support this so there's an overwhelming

support that it was important but only

one in five thought that existing

courses supported it again a similar

number only thought they had the

material to do it

four or five teachers don't think they

have the sufficient materials to be able

to teach critical thinking effectively

half said they had not enough time to do

it properly and only one in six

seventeen percent said they'd had any

specific training or coaching so again

the overriding narrative is here is from

a teacher perspective it's important but

teachers don't help the support or the

knowledge the capability the help to be

able to do it effectively so to give an

example from my own experience of

writing unlock with with Cambridge to

try and remedy some of this to try and

support teachers through the material

so with unlock what we try and do is

there's a very clear focus on what the

outcome is going to be what the critical

thinking is for so here at the end of

this unit you'll write to comparison

paragraphs compare and contrast the two

shark species in the diagram so first of

all giving a specific focus why the

students are learning this critical

thinking and the critical thinking feeds

directly into the task which they're

going to do then there's this useful

sort of gray box type information which

gives a very short concise summary of

the particular skill that is being

developed again being up front to the

student about what they are learning and

what that core information is then

there's this graphical organizer so

again the idea was was trying to embed

some of the skills that they will need

when they are at university within the

materials here so getting familiar with

those sorts of useful graphical

organizers there's a link here to the

again the skill with the part of Bloom's

taxonomy which is referring to analyse

and so on and then a series of

activities to develop that skill so we

were very conscious to try and embed

this within the materials the student

materials and subsequently in the second

edition in the teacher materials as well

so there are some very specific

information within the teacher develop

materials to try and help teachers in

terms of developing their own critical

thinking capabilities

to teach the critical thinking material

more effectively so for example here the

be informed drawing appropriate

conclusions from graphical data that's

the particular focus in this isn't it in

a difference in a different unit but

it's giving three reasons why they're

doing it so when students in a class

asks and why are we learning this

they've got ready-made information there

to be able to share with the students

about that then in the be confident it's

giving the teachers confidence to be

able to teach the skill effectively by

developing it for themselves so they do

a similar type activity to the learners

in order to develop this skill so

develop the skill for yourself by doing

X Y and Zed so then be ready about how

it would actually work within the class

itself being flexible how you

differentiate the assuming there's

different levels of critical thinking

ability within a particular class being

reflective so after it's been done how

you can then reflect on that and develop

it and potentially do it better next

time and then being collaborative how

you share that with your colleagues so

it's a very sort of structured approach

but it's really looking at how teachers

can develop their own skills and

capabilities within the critical

thinking ecosystem from a learner

perspective well again ask the question

what do we know about learners and their

views on critical thinking and my sort

of response to this would be not very

much good I don't think we've asked them

very much no not historically how much

do we do on a day to day basis or week

to week basis in the classroom I don't

think particularly not very much in my

sort of own experience and knowledge and

do we do anything with the information

we get again not very much I think

there's often a gap in terms of knowing

what learners know about critical

thinking and what they can do with it

so this results in I think a scant

research base and with that learners are

disenfranchised from the process again a

couple of the comments that the people

were making there that teachers think

it's important but learners perhaps

don't were there that's intention

because they're not really part of the

process there's a gulf between the

content and

actus and transferring that I think one

of the problems of that is critical

thinking is often taught as a standalone

skill and students and have problems in

actually applying it in reality it's

also sometimes unclear what we expect

them to do

I think this links back to what I was

saying about the institutional level

that you know they are told you must be

critical you must consider all different

sides and so on and so on but the

institution itself is not doing those

particular things it can potentially be

dangerous for overseas learners to be

critical if they're coming from cultures

where there are different expectations

of what being a student is or different

expectations of criticality it can

potentially people are not necessarily

always able to share exactly what they

want to share or may need permission to

be able to do that when they may need to

do that over a longer period of time and

also the feedback that students often

get from teachers is not very helpful

I've seen it many times be more critical

what the hell does that mean you know

it's not at all helpful you know I used

to coordinate a module and that

sometimes you'd see that the other

teachers have said well what can the

student do with that know very little so

you learn is know they need to be more

critical but are unsure how to do it I

give an example now this is an essay I

used to run a course called culture

theory and society was a sort of

introduction to economics and politics

and so on students writing an essay on

Thatcherism in 1980s and you'd obviously

be listening to critical thinking he

wanted to use a source he wanted to do a

bit of primary research and so he done

all of that and this is the center's

that he wrote they call it to my friend

Steve who is from Newcastle everyone

hates Thatcher was what he came up with

again it's obviously problematic he

needed to be more critical as I told now

but it's you know the processes were

rights here we're going in the right

direction obviously the execution is is

not ideal but those are some of the

challenges I think which learners are

facing and when learners then do want to

try and improve their critical thinking

they may try and find

information get books on it and I think

there's problems there as well these are

a couple of books that was two of the

best-selling books or critical thinking

from Amazon which I just got this is one

critical thinking a concise guide if you

develop your ability to analyze people's

attempts to persuade so that you out can

accurately interpret what they are

saying or writing and evaluate whether

or not they are giving a good argument

whether for it etc etcetera it carries

on you know if you're at this level of

language you know you may not need this

book now this is one of the challenges

and this is written in a very convoluted

difficult C one standard of English you

know but there are other issues as well

these are direct quotations critical

thinking skills for dummies classic

classic academic tome the chapters in

part four all about that and where I

could take a good look at the key skills

of informal logic for example the

fallacies that many critical thinking

experts wax long on again using very

colloquial language challenging language

if you're a b-1 student who's trying to

deal with feedback that says be more

critical and this is what you get is

very difficult to make that leap so I

think even if a learners do want to

improve they find it very very difficult

sometimes I'm just conscious of time so

maybe I won't ask you to contribute to

to this one so just moving on to

thinking about how how its

conceptualized and assessed so yes still

you know the influence of bloom is still

very very apparent in courses in books

these three quotations were taken from a

website for an online forum were people

sharing their ideas here so bloom the

his ideas are still very very

influential you know the original

taxonomy which he created and then the

revised one later on which switches a

couple of them around renamed zoom adds

into it to make it feel more active and

something's happening so still very very

influential in critical thinking around

the world and in teacher training

programs and and so on and so on

now these are sort of often been revised

or changed so I think it's one of those

things that's in the process of of shift

so this was taken just some different

representations of the same ideas of

bloom just taken from Pinterest to sort

of showed a way that different people

have reinterpreted bloom which

overlooked a couple of these in more

detail so here's one for example so it

moves away from the very rigid pyramid

taxonomy that bloom presents to one that

looks at how those competencies are more

embedded within each other and again ads

on the right-hand side here this more

sort of dialectical kind of aspect it

can the learner use information in a new


can the learner justify your stand a

decision so it's taking those ideas and

I think making them slightly more

user-friendly another one here this one

focuses on creating at the top of the

pyramid as being the the main idea but

all of the other cogs in the machine are

turning on as well so again showing more

the interrelated nature of of how those

different competencies work what we did

unlock was to keep the pyramid there

because it is still such a presence and

if you're talking about critical

thinking trying to sell books on this

there is still a very strong expectation

that bloom will be there in some way or

another but what we did is to think

about more common classroom verbs that

can illustrate those points more

effectively so again what does evaluate

meme in reality in a classroom situation

well it means it's deciding rating

assessing prioritizing etc if you talk

about understand what would that look

like in reality and I think that's quite

a useful tool because it's still talking

about things which they are familiar

with and that matches their expectations

about what critical thinking is but it's

also presenting in a more user-friendly

classroom accessible kind of way

has had several challenges along the way

for example this one the bigs and colas

is taxonomy the solo taxonomy are the

ones such as Fink's taxonomy with

foundational noise human dimension

learning to learn etc but they haven't

really fundamentally challenged and

bloom still 60 odd years after it was

first conceptualized is still there and

it's really the reinvention of bloom

which I think we are we are seeing now

so this is an interesting thing here

blooms digital taxonomy where it's using

those same ideas but looking at it

within a digital landscape so here you

see on the right hand side that for the

creating part it's talking there about

logging developing managing negotiating

planning podcasting producing

programming vlogging etc etc so it's

taking those same ideas but looking at

it within a digital landscape and when

we're thinking about how it should be

assessed I think what we need to be

thinking of it as a process not a body

of knowledge to be acquired because the

critical thinking skills which young

learners today are going to need are

very different to what has happened

before socially related to things like

deep fakes for example which have been

coming you know as as technology becomes

more and more advanced you know people

will be able to spot what a deep fake is

so this was an example of Nancy Pelosi

whose speech was slowed down so it

sounded like she was drunk and slurring

her words in order to be more critical

offer Mark Zuckerberg recently was again

someone made a deep fake of him talking

about how he uses data and so on on

Facebook you know that these are the

different type of skills that young

learners today they're going to be able

to develop in the future and I think at

the moment the kind of materials and

approaches that we're using don't

necessarily reflect this specifically in

terms of assessment I think often

certainly in the university level it's a

quantitative rather than qualitative

process we almost weigh how much

critical thinking is done rather than

actually look

how it's done and I think that's really

problematic and as a result critical

thinking is often performative it's

something which students are expected to

do and to show like a peacock showing

its feathers they're supposed to show

look how many sources I've read or look

how I'm synthesizing as a performative

act we're looking at that rather than

actually looking at what the student is

showing that they know or showing at

what they understand and this can relate

I think to issues of epistemic justice

so how are students treated fairly

within this kind of system

if they come from a culture where

critical thinking is done and they can

show this because they know the rules

they know what they're supposed to do

then they can often perform better

whereas actually are they really showing

what they need to be showing in order to

be effective say a university level so

for example I think you know this is a

fundamental question we need to ask does

this shouldn't use a range of

appropriate sources rather than at the

moment where I think it's often does the

student use several different sources so

often we just see look they put two two

sources in brackets afterwards that

shows that they understand what critical

thinking is but they're not really using

those sources so it's are they using it

appropriately not just are they doing it

again what we need to be looking at is

where the students give clear well

argued positions rather than just giving

a position which shows a range of

different views and the problem is I

think in a lot of university or sort of

pre university language criteria it says

are they doing it rather than how are

they doing it and I think that's a shift

at least potentially take place at

departmental level as well and I think

there's slightly mechanical way of

approaching it can be reflected in other

areas as well so this is a an

interesting thing I saw in an academic

paper about how students often change

their vocabulary again I'm sure this

will be familiar to many of you

it's this idea that words can just be

swapped in and out without really

knowing what they're doing you go to f7

you find the longest you know here's a

four syllable word stick that in I'll

get more marks in the under the lexical

usage category on the assessment so

again it's not just about performing

it's not just about showing these things

it's about how is it embedded within the


okay the penultimate section and looking

at critical ELT more widely so this is

coming out of the critical ELT tradition

of people noted here like Faircloth

Penacook and others some of the titles

of some of their work if you're not

familiar with this give a sense of or

the position they're coming from you

know the politics of English language

teaching linguistic Imperium imperialism

unraveling racism in a nice field like

TSO and the struggle to teach English as

an international language so looking at

the industry of whole and how much

criticality is there in terms of English

language teaching and these I think as

some of the sort of live issues within

that again it being EOT there's lots of

abbreviations and acronyms here so for

example British English American English

versus English as a lingua franca versus

any other interpretation of what type of

English our students learning English as

a medium of instruction versus

multilingual education so again those

sort of contrasting positions native

English speakers teachers and non-native

English speaking teachers what content

is in textbook workers rights and then

sort of the role of IELTS as a

gatekeeper function in terms of its

standardized tests so there are you know

very many live issues within the ELT as

a field but how much are we engaging

with that how much are they on the

fringes of the field and that the

mainstream contains how much how much is

the mainstream being challenged in the

modern age so just to look at a couple

of these points now think about what

kind of English should be learnt you

know are there issues of justice within

that in terms of these two person Murray

Daisy's phrase unequal in

Alisha's you know using those prestige

forms of the language is that right is

that appropriate should we be looking at

more localized forms of English and

again this ongoing issue of English as a

lingua franca you know this idea of the

kind of English which many people speak

which privilege is mutual intelligent

intelligibility rather than just

interpreting as an l1 language norms

British English or American English most

of the time so there's a conflict in

terms of actually what kind of English

should we be teaching how critical are

we of what kind of English that we're

learning about in terms of textbook

content as well the hidden content of

many curricula you know they're coply

here talk about cultural artifacts which

a highly regulated standardized and

ideologically positioned and the idea

that many English language courses are

essentially teaching a form of

neoliberalism and making people good

citizens and again that's an other

issues as well like John Gray talking

about ELT publishers refusing to segment

their global markets in ways which

reflect social change so there's all

sorts of issues within the actual

content of what cause books are talking

about as well not just in terms of the

actual language but in terms of the

messages which are coming through again

native speaker ISM another sort of very

live topic I would say about it being a

pervasive ideology of some of these

words which he says are often ascribed

to non-native speakers of English

dependent reticent passive docile

lacking in self-esteem and so on and so

on and this is a real live issue for

many many people and I'm sure many of

you in this room would have encountered

some of these things these are just a

couple of things I saw on Twitter and

researching this here's an advert for a

job in China and it says here

requirements spelt wrong native or

looking native quite sure what that

means and here a wee chat chat why

should why someone didn't get a job the

interviewer said you have light accent

not suitable enough to teach

yes l so again as an industry there

needs to be much more light Shawn on

some of these sorts of issues which are

really affecting people on a day-to-day

basis okay so just to just to finish now

so just going to make a few short

recommendations based on a lot of the

things I've said so first of all a

revaluation or repositioning of bloom

still very important still very

influential but my view is we need to

move away from this sort of hagiographic

reverence we have for him there are some

good ideas there but there's a lot of

other things that can take its place or

you know revising some of those ideas in

a more contemporary kind of way again

just to sort of illustrate this points

from University of Arkansas and what

this is saying essentially is that

younger students people just come to

university should be focused on lower

order skills and more experienced one

should be focused on higher order skills

is a real demarcation between those two

things and I think it's a real

misinterpretation of what bloom is

trying to say and but in reality that's

often how its perceived that it is

progressing from the bottom level to the

top level which is not how thinking

actually works

baking critical thinking into elt

provision so not teaching it as

something standalone but looking at how

it's used in practice and again related

to this I think we need to move on now

it's 2019 for this language of 21st

century skills you know let's name them

let's talk about the kind of skills

which we're trying to develop if we just

lump them together under this one super

ordinate term what does that actually

really mean so I think we need to really

say what we're talking about when we're

developing these kind of skills I won't

go into this too much detail now just

because a time but I would suggest

looking at this again new document

framework because that Cambridge's

produce which i think has a lot of

influence in this it's trying to reshape

some of the ways that we conceptualize

learning so talk about creative thinking

critical thinking learning to learn

communication collaboration and social

responsibilities as a way of



PLT provision preparing teachers more

effectively to support critical thinking

in the classroom so again too often as

an assumption teachers can just do stuff

but actually need to be more supported

in terms of doing that for example

through some of the materials which I

mentioned before and the change doesn't

need to be big it can sometimes be just

a very small change in practice which

can be very influential so rather than

giving students a five-point Likert

scale give them a four point one so they

can't just retreat to the safety of

point three which is often what happens

when you Artin to say that make them

adopt some kind of position one way or

the other so just making those very

small changes I think can also be very

effective differentiating critical

thinking by subjects and pathway not

just lumping it together but actually

thinking what they use in the critical

thinking for the field of history and

the field of nanotechnology have very

different understandings of what

critical thinking is and I think that

needs to be fed into the the process and

the last point pursuing epistemic

inclusion as a goal so critical thinking

should be for everybody and not just for

people who already come from particular

academic background or culture and I

think as we've done today for example

using padlet is a way of being anonymous

and really encouraging people to say

what they think which they might not

often do if they have to ascribe their

name to something and I think it can be

used in many different contexts so this

just a finished last thing I did some

work in Georgia with Sudanese refugees

and what I did there is I gave them the

star of an essay called we refugees by

Hannah Arendt who's a well well-known

refugee from the Second World War and

she wrote very eloquently about her

experience there and I and I talked with

this group and after they'd be happy to

do this and they were and they read

about the experience of this woman

seventy years after and their own even

compared that to their own experiences

of being a refugee and it was a very

interesting and powerful exchange that

we had there in order to do that so I

think critical thinking you know is much

more than just being in a textbook it

can really have an impact

on people's lives in lots and lots of

different ways I'll finish there thank

you very much



The Description of Chris Sowton - The critical thinking ecosystem- why it’s everybody’s responsibility