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Teaching Critical Reading As a Way of Teaching Critical Thinking

Cniversity of Windsor
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  • Education
  • Political Science


Informal Logic IX.2&3, Spring & Fall 1987 Teaching Critical Reading As a Way of Teaching Critical Thinking WILLIAM M. TAYLOR Oakton Community College For the past sixteen years I have been teaching political science at Oakton Community College which serves the North and Northwest suburbs of Chicago. One of my primary objectives during this time has been to help my students realize that on the important questions of politics there is no one right or wrong answer; that there are many legitimate, defensible approaches to solving public policy issues; that these approaches are generally shaped by one's ideology; and that intelligent peo- ple, acting in all good faith, may never agree on what course of action to pur- sue. At the same time I have wanted my students to realize that this does not mean there are no answers and therefore everything is relative, but rather that even if they were never to take another course in political science they would have an obligation to develop their own political views, an obligation they don't have the right to give up by blindly accepting what they hear from politicians or political "ex_ perts", (including me). In other words, I have wanted them to develop the abili- ty to intelligently analyze and evaluate the things they hear and read, in the pro- cess developing their own views and the abiJity to defend them. Then, in 1985 I attended a conference on critical thinking sponsored by the University of Chicago. Suddenly, I found that I had some labels I could use to describe what I had been trying to do. In addition, I came away with the realiza- tion that I needed to make some changes in the way I was teaching, changes that would help my students develop their critical thinking skills and apply them to political issues. Among other things, I began working with Lynda Jerit, one of my colleagues from Oakton's English Department, on the development of a series of reading and writing assignments for my course

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