Learning to teach: becoming a reflective practitioner
Learning to teach: becoming a reflective practitioner

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Learning to teach: becoming a reflective practitioner

3 What is critical analysis?

Critical analysis involves analysis and critical thinking.

Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic into smaller parts to gain a better understanding of it. An example of this would be exploring the reasons behind a pupil not understanding a concept. An unanalytical approach might just say that they weren’t ready to understand the concepts being taught. A more critically analytical approach might break down the issue into a number of factors that might have influenced the pupil’s inability to understand. These might include:

  • the pupil’s previous learning and understanding
  • the way the concept was presented
  • the context of the lesson (time of day, previous lesson, the pupil’s mood)
  • the way the teacher assessed the pupil’s understanding.

Critical thinking is essentially a sceptical or questioning approach to knowledge. Someone who is thinking critically will question assumptions and think about issues from a variety of perspectives. It involves looking at ideas and information from a detached position, trying to set aside personal values and opinions, and looking for evidence to bring to bear on the issue under scrutiny. This might involve asking:

  • Why was it taught that way?
  • What theoretical principles promote or challenge the way it was taught?
  • Are there alternative views or methods?

Critical analysis and thinking is not the same as criticism of someone or what they do, which is made from a personal, judgemental position. This is important to bear in mind during your school placements, particularly if you find yourself in a situation where you have a difference of opinion with your mentor or school coordinator.

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