University of Iceland

Strengthening the teaching of critical thinking

Strengthening the teaching of critical thinking

Strengthening the teaching of critical thinking and ethics is a collaborative project between the Centre for Research in Higher Education, the Institute of Ethics and the Institute of Philosophy. Páll Skúlason is the primus motor of the project, but he has long stressed that the teaching of critical thinking should become an integral part of Icelandic schooling. Henry Alexander Henrysson, Project Manager at the Institute of Philosophy, manages the project.

The project is in part sparked by the discussion on the importance of teaching critical thinking in the aftermath of the economic crash of 2008. According to Henrysson the project is an answer to the criticism directed at the educational system due to lack of teaching in critical thinking and ethics. “For example, this demand was made in the Report by the Special Investigation Committee of Althing,” Henrysson adds.

The project has three main parts. First and foremost it focuses on the inclusion of critical thinking and ethics in the central curricula for all levels of education. Henrysson says that besides teaching ethics and critical thinking as separate subjects, it is no less important that critical thinking is woven into the teaching of all subjects. Another part of the project is to establish further education for teachers who wish to enhance their skills in critical thinking for use in teaching. The third part is to create materials for the teaching of ethics and critical thinking at all school levels.

“The idea for the project is that students should attain real skills in using critical thinking and become able to form independent and holistic opinions when they enter university,” says Henrysson when asked about the basic idea of the project.

According to Henrysson the project is well under way; work has started on making ethics and critical thinking part of the central curricula and Henrysson and Skúlason participate in the writing of the chapter on social sciences in the curriculum for the primary schools.

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