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.