- Directly to Example activities for teaching Criticality
- Directly to Criticality + Sustainable Development Goals
- Directly to Useful reading for Criticality
The educator helps learners to evaluate critically the relevance and reliability of assertions, sources, models and theories.
The educator helps learners to:
- 4.1 Reflect critically on the framing of sustainability related issues and not just on their solutions
- 4.2 Distinguish between facts, assumptions and opinions, including their own
- 4.3 Apply models and theories carefully, considering their limitations and uncertainties
Underpinning Components for the educator
In order to achieve the above Learning Outcomes the educator should be able to:
- UC4 Utilise techniques to challenge assumptions such as problem-based learning, debates or dilemma analysis
- UC4.1a Guide the discussion and give space and value to diverse opinions and hypotheses while distinguishing facts from assumptions and opinions
- UC4.1b Understand the difference between the indoctrination and empowerment of learners
- UC4.2a Identify and propose a number of sources with contrasting perspectives for analysis
- UC4.2b Encourage the analysis of sources including the identification of different perspectives and underlying values within arguments and set them in the context of sustainability
- UC4.3 Identify the theories (and their limitations) behind interpretations of sustainability related issues
Example activities for teaching Criticality
1 What do you notice?
- Suggested duration: 45 mins
- Technique used: Small group analysis of material presented
- Materials required: Materials showing different issues that we need to be aware of, e.g.
Potential research bias/agenda due to funding source/ organisational links
Different focus depending on media source e.g. tabloid newspaper, serious newspaper, report
Information changes over time as a result of emerging research/developing ideas
Influence that framing can have, i.e. that the way things are presented can potentially guide thinking
- Aim of activity: To encourage learners to be more analytical and critical of materials and to consider bias, focus, motive language, date and framing
- Underpinning components: UC4.2a; UC4.2b
- Connection with other competences: Action
Prepare materials that illustrate the types of issues as mentioned above. Give each small group a set of materials that focuses on one of the above issues. Ask each group to study their materials to see what they notice. Whole group – report back what they have noticed. Plenary discuss the need to be alert and to evaluate sources.
2 Facts, assumptions or opinions?
- Suggested duration: 20 mins
- Technique used (e.g. simulation, debate): Small group analysis of material presented
- Materials required: Material on sustainability issues that contain facts, assumptions and opinion
- Aim of activity: To encourage learners to look carefully at language used to identify facts, assumptions and opinions. To encourage learners to reflect on their own bias and receptiveness to new ideas.
- Underpinning components: UC4.2a; UC4.2b; UC4.3a
- Connection with other competences: Attentiveness
Pairs/small groups analyse texts underlining examples of facts, opinions and assumptions. Whole group share and discuss. Reflect on own responses to texts e.g. do we look for things that confirm our opinions?
3 Critique of models of sustainable development
- Suggested duration: 15 mins
- Technique used: Small group discussion
- Materials required: Examples of different models of sustainable development e.g. pillars, Venn diagram, nested systems
- Aim of activity: To encourage critical thought
- Underpinning components: UC4.1b; UC4.3a; UC4.3b
- Connection with other competences: Systems
Small groups study different models of sustainable development and consider which they prefer, any limitations/criticisms and try to create an alternative model. Plenary – short presentation on knowledge and how it is provisional, contingent and contestable.
4 Find the object
- Suggested duration: 30 mins
- Technique used: Observation, outdoor education, cooperative learning
- Aim of activity: Understand the need to change the perspective to get a complete view of a phenomenon/“real world” problem
- Underpinning components: UC4.3a ; UC4.3b
- Connection with other competences: Transdisicplinarity
The activity takes place outdoors. Locate a path or a space with trees or other lateral supports of varying height, possibly even with cover (e.g. a pergola). Distribute different kinds of small objects (small toys, coloured papers, small non-organic waste items) into partially hidden but visible areas at different heights. Divide students into small groups, invite them to walk through space once and finding objects as they go. Make a ranking of the groups based on the items they have collected. Ask the groups to discuss how objects have been found and which one were most easily found (looking up, down, side, coloured, strange ones, etc.). Ask them to plan a new observation by assigning roles within the group and repeating it. Identify the difference in results achieved.
Group discussion and substantiate the need for more people collaborating and taking different points of view.
5 Find the theory
- Suggested duration: 2 hours x 2
- Technique used: Collaborative research methods (micro-research, conversations, discussions, co-production)
- Aim of activity: Learning to know how to identify and explain theories for the interpretation of a phenomenon/“real world” problem
- Underpinning components: UC4.1a; UC4.3a; UC4.3b
- Connection with other competences: Attentiveness; Action; Transdisciplinarity
Starting with a “real-world” problem of unsustainability (also in continuity with the two previous activities), make a micro background research (explorative) divided by small groups which apply different disciplinary point of views and produce a brief report and PowerPoint to illustrate the main features of the problem. Presentation of PowerPoint. Discuss the specific point of view used by each group and the partial and specific analysis of the problem. Identify elements of contradiction, overlapping, and complementarity. Establish collectively a report structure that takes into account all disciplinary contributions and acknowledge the value of the interpretative inputs that have arisen from the discussion.
Example activities for teaching Criticality Sustainable Development Goals
Criticality SDG1 No poverty
Contribute to ending poverty by critical evaluation of the relevance and reliability of assertions, sources, models and theories.
Criticality SDG2 Zero hunger
Contribute to ending hunger by critical evaluation of the relevance and reliability of assertions, sources, models and theories.
Criticality SDG3 Good health and well-being
Be aware of the processes and mechanisms that can prevent life quality and those that enhance people’s health and wellbeing.
Criticality SDG4 Quality education
Be aware that education can help create a more sustainable, equitable and peaceful world.
Criticality SDG5 Gender equality
Maintain a critical stance while reflecting on gender differences being aware that the problems are not the differences that should be appreciated and respected, but the unequal power relations and the cultural stereotypes.
Criticality SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
Critically evaluate situations and decisions taken to ensure equitable management of water resources and sanitation.
Criticality SDG7 Affordable and clean energy
Challenge assumptions on energy related topics such as green economy benefits.
Criticality SDG8 Decent work and economic growth
Be aware of the positive and negative impacts of economic developments on people and the planet.
Criticality SDG9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Critically evaluate the relevance and reliability of assertions, sources, models and theories in order to establish resilient infrastructure and inclusive and sustainable industrialization and innovation.
Criticality SDG10 Reduced inequalities
Critically evaluate the balance of power, wealth, access to resources and access to opportunity and any proposals to reduce inequalities.
Criticality SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
Determine, analyse and discuss the problems that make communities unsustainable. Critically review decisions concerning their community, city and discuss whether these make it more sustainable and/or how they should change in order to make it more sustainable.
Criticality SDG12 Responsible consumption and production
Critically take on a role as an active stakeholder in the market and challenge cultural and societal orientations in consumption and production.
Criticality SDG13 Climate action
Maintain a critical stance while reflecting and acting on climate change, being aware that this kind of natural phenomena are largely unpredictable, and need a long-term view, attentiveness and flexibility. Distinguish between facts, assumptions and opinions related to climate change, collect and analyse data and sources including the identification of different perspectives and underlying values within arguments.
Criticality SDG14 Life below water
Maintain a critical stance while reflecting and acting on marine life, being aware that each pressure group tries to defend its own interests. Distinguish between facts, assumptions and opinions, collect and analyse data and sources including the identification of different perspectives and underlying values within arguments.
Criticality SDG15 Life on land
Adopt a critical view in assessing the rationales and actions of current forms of managing and exploiting natural habitats and resources in the world.
Criticality SDG16 Peace, justice and strong institutions
Be critically aware of social structures and interpretations of issues such as conflict or social justice.
Useful reading for Criticality
- Aubrey K & Riley A 2017 Understanding & Using Challenging Educational Theories. London: Sage (see chapter 10 - Henry Girouz: Critical pedagogy)
- Barrow R & Woods R (2006) An Introduction to Philosophy of Education Abingdon: Routledge
- Bartlett S & Burton D (2007) Introduction to Education Studies London: Sage
- Matthews L & Matthews A 2014 Framespotting. Aleresford: Iff Books – Very short, readable chapters introducing a wide range of sustainability issues.
- Scott W & Vare P (2018) The World We’ll Leave Behind: Grasping the sustainability challenge. Abingdon: Routledge (particularly chapter 34 – Frames and framing) – Very short, readable chapters introducing a wide range of sustainability issues.