From an Unreflective Thinker to a Practicing Thinker

Keji Fan, 1st Year PhD candidate, tells us of her experiences on a course thanks to St John’s College Student Opportunities Fund.

With the financial assistance of St John’s Opportunity Fund, I was able to attend a training course. As a first-year PhD candidate, I am still in the research design phase. My PhD project aims to examine the impact of infusing critical thinking in the school curriculum on Chinese students’ critical thinking skills and academic performance. I wanted to develop a suite of teaching and learning resources that can be used in schools based on this topic, but before this I need to get some training first. An online training course, offered by the Foundation for Critical Thinking, provided both theoretical and instructional guidance on infusing critical thinking into the regular curriculum. Inspired by this, I started to design lesson plans and develop teaching materials.

I have met supportive peers during a five-month training experience, most of whom are experienced teachers in the US. I have also become familiar with how critical thinking is viewed or valued in both China and the UK. I now have an opportunity to learn about US teachers’ practice of critical thinking in schools. I had not conducted my plan in practice, so I could only provide some theoretical ideas for the instructional part. Even so, I received useful suggestions and feedback on my work from them.

This experience also helped my personal development. Developing critical thinking could be a lifelong progression. I used to be an unreflective thinker, who was unaware of some significant problems in my thinking such as egocentrism and sociocentrism. For example, sometimes I thought a certain thing is true because I have always believed it, or my group believes it. Now, I am trying to overcome these problems and am working on being a practicing thinker who can monitor and evaluate my thinking process. Although there is a long way to go to internalise critical thinking as my second nature, I have begun my journey and I am well on my way.

In conclusion, I am thankful for St John’s Opportunity Fund as I have gained experience which supports my research project and personal advancement. I am fortunate to be a Johnian.

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