Together, the Center and Foundation for Critical Thinking have hosted critical thinking academies and conferences for 36 years.
During that time, we have played a key role in defining and advancing the principles and best practices of fairminded critical thought in education and society. Our annual conference provides a unique opportunity for you to improve your understanding of critical thinking, as well as your ability to more substantively foster it in the classroom and in all aspects of your work and life.
The conference begins with three preconference session options . If you have not participated in our conference before, we strongly recommend that you attend our two-day preconference. In all preconference sessions we focus on the foundations of critical thinking that are at the heart of our approach. These foundations are then contextualized throughout the conference.
The rest of the conference will consist of focal sessions, concurrent sessions, and roundtable discussions, offered over four days. When you register for the conference, you will choose your preconference sessions, and your focal sessions for days one, two, and four of the main conference. Preconference and Focal sessions are led primarily by Fellows and Scholars of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. On the third day of the conference you will choose from approximately 30 concurrent sessions. (The full concurrent session program will be available at the conference). Many of the sessions will be posted online in advance.
Throughout our work we emphasize the importance of fostering a substantive conception of critical thinking. Such a conception not only highlights the qualities of the educated person, but also implies the proper design of the educational process. There are essential minimal conditions for cultivating educated minds. These entail modes of instruction that facilitate development of the standards, abilities, and traits of the educated person. All of the traditional content areas of school may be, but typically are not, taught so as to conduce to those standards, abilities, and traits. For instance, when literature is substantively taught, it is taught as literary thinking. The major goal: to give students practice in thinking analytically and critically about literary texts. As a result, students learn not only how to read novels, plays, short stories, and poems with insight, understanding, and appreciation, but also how to formulate and analyze literary problems, reasoning from information in a literary text to plausible interpretations and judgments of appreciation (which they are able to explain and defend on reasonable grounds). When this is done effectively, students come to see the significance of literature, literary thinking, and imagination both in their own lives and in the life of culture and society. Literature becomes an important way to learn about human nature and the human condition as well as a lifelong source of insight and pleasure.
When students are taught using a substantive concept of education as the guide to the design of instruction, they learn to initiate, analyze, and evaluate their own thinking and the thinking of others (within all the content areas they study). Doing so, they come to act more reasonably and effectively in every part of life. They are able to do this because they have acquired intellectual tools and intellectual standards essential to sound reasoning and personal and professional judgment. Self-assessment becomes an integral part of their lives. They are able to master content in diverse disciplines. They become proficient readers, writers, speakers, and listeners. They use their learning to raise the quality of their lives and the lives of others. They become reasonable and fairminded persons capable of empathizing with views with which they disagree and disagreeing with views uncritically accepted by those around them. They are able to use their reasoning skills to contribute to their own emotional life and transform their desires and motivations accordingly. They come to think, feel, and act effectively and with integrity.
All conference sessions are designed to converge on basic critical thinking principles and to enrich a core concept of critical thinking with practical teaching and learning strategies.
For a richer explanation of core critical thinking concepts, see the Thinker's Guide Library (Click Here).
Focal Session Presenters Include:
Dr. Linda Elder
Dr. Linda Elder is an educational psychologist and a prominent authority on critical thinking. She is President and Senior Fellow of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. Dr. Elder has taught psychology and critical thinking at the college level, and has given presentations to more than 20,000 educators. She has coauthored four books and twenty-four thinker's guides on critical thinking. Concerned with understanding and illuminating the relationship between thinking and affect, and the barriers to critical thinking, Dr. Elder has placed these issues at the center of her thinking and her work.
Dr. Gerald Nosich
Dr. Gerald Nosich is an authority on critical thinking and Senior Fellow of the Foundation for Critical Thinking; he has given more than 150 national and international workshops on the subject. He has worked with the U.S. Department of Education on a project for the National Assessment of Higher Order Thinking skills, has served as the Assistant Director of the Center for Critical Thinking, and has been featured as a Noted Scholar at the University of British Columbia. He is Professor of Philosophy at Buffalo State College in New York and the author of two books, including Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum.
Dr. Brian Barnes
Dr. Brian Barnes has taught Critical Thinking courses for seven years at the university level. He has earned grants from Hanover College, the James Randi Education Foundation, and the University of Louisville focused on developing critical thinking in everyday life. He holds a Masters degree in Philosophy and a PhD at the University of Louisville, which fosters the Paulian Approach to critical thinking across the curriculum. Mr. Barnes is a visiting scholar of the Foundation for Critical Thinking.
Ms. Carmen Polka
Carmen Polka has worked diligently to infuse critical thinking into her classroom instruction, curriculum and assessment for more than 15 years. Focused on transforming education through implementation of quality instructional practices, Ms. Polka instigated and co-authored the writing of the Colorado Academic State Standards targeting research and reasoning based on the Paul-Elder framework. As a leader and critical thinking expert in her district, she led professional development and coached K-12 teachers to effectively utilize the Paulian theory. Ms. Polka is a Doctoral candidate in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program at the University of Northern Colorado. In addition, she is a licensed Elementary teacher, K-12 Special Education teacher and licensed principal.
Choose one preconference and focal session for each section...
Monday (July 25, 2016)
- Teaching Students to Think Within the Logic of your Discipline… Gerald Nosich
- Fostering Critical Thinking in the K-12 Classroom: Practical Strategies… Carmen Polka
- The Life and Work of Richard Paul…How We Lived and Learned Together... Linda Elder
DAY ONE FOCAL SESSIONS
Tuesday (July 26)
- Critical Thinking as Essential to the Development of Intellectual Skills in Higher Education… Gerald Nosich
- Critical Thinking as Essential to the Acquisition of Knowledge in K-12 Education… Linda Elder
Advanced Session: The Important Ideas of Tom Paine, His Revolutionary World View, and Why He Was Ultimately Vilified... Brian Barnes
Wednesday morning (July 27)
| Bertrand Russell Distinguished |
Scholars Lecture & Conversation
Bertrand Russell Scholar:
Dr. Carol Tavris
All Conference delegates are encouraged to actively participate in this session.
Only those registered may attend.
- Roundtable Discussions after lunch
DAY TWO FOCAL SESSIONS
Wednesday afternoon (July 27)
- Why Intellectual Virtues are Essential to a Robust Conception of Critical Thinking… Gerald Nosich
- Critical Reading as Primary Vehicle for Cultivating the Intellect… Carmen Polka
- Why We Need Concern Ourselves With Human Pathologies in Cultivating the Disciplined Mind… Linda Elder
DAY THREE - Morning
Thursday (July 28)
DAY THREE - Afternoon
- Concurrent sessions - To be announced a few weeks prior to the conference.
Concurrent sessions are one hour in length. Most sessions are conducted by faculty and administrators who have been working with critical thinking concepts and principles for several years, bringing critical thinking into the individual classroom or across the curriculum.
Thursday (July 28)
- Teaching Students to Formulate and Reason Through Essential Questions in Teaching and Learning... Gerald Nosich
- Teaching Students to Study and Learn Using the Principles of Critical Thinking... Carmen Polka
- Teaching Students to Internalize and Think Within the Ideas of the Deepest Thinkers: Reaching Back Through History to Classic Works... Linda Elder
Friday morning (July 29)
- For Administrators: Placing Critical Thinking at the Heart of the Institution's Mission… Brian Barnes
- Teaching Students to Think Conceptually, and to Take Command of the Concepts that Guide Their Lives… Linda Elder
- Socratic Dialogue as Primary Tool for Cultivating Critical Thinking in Instruction... Gerald Nosich