‘Who is the critical thinker in higher education? A feminist rethinking’ by Emily Danvers
DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2018.1454419 (free access until 31st December 2018.)
The importance of ‘critical thinking’ is arguably a core value of Higher Education, and one which is foregrounded throughout the sector’s framing of our work, and what we expect from our students at all levels. However, as with other apparently straightforward and positive constructs in educational discourses, it is in no way ‘neutral’, and does not sit outside of structure of power and privilege, as this excellent paper ably demonstrates.
Emily Danvers provides as incisive critique of how the term is used, highlighting the decontextualized manner in which is it portrayed, with ‘the critical thinker ’imagined as a context-free, ‘objective’ subject who somehow sits outside of the complex, embodied and contingent entanglements of Higher Education as it unfolds.
Drawing on interview data, she highlights the dominance of the idealized male subject in student conceptions of the prototypical critical thinker, arguing that this elides the subjectivities and socio-political contexts of those students and their engagement.
This paper makes an important theoretical contribution from a feminist perspective to our understanding of this taken-for-granted term, and opens up a valuable space for a different kind of thinking about who, where, how and why students can be ‘critical’.