Tribunes de Philosophes

CRITICAL THINKING : "The Foundation for Critical Thinking" (BERKELEY - San Francisco)


with Dr. Linda Elder

The Center for Critical Thinking and Moral Critique and the Foundation for Critical Thinking — two sister educational non-profit organizations — work closely together to promote educational reform. We seek to promote essential change in education and society through the cultivation of fair-minded critical thinking.

Critical thinking is essential if we are to get to the root of our problems and develop reasonable solutions. After all, the quality of everything we do  is determined by the quality of our thinking.

Whereas society commonly promotes values laden with superficial, immediate "benefits," critical thinking cultivates substance and true intellectual discipline. Critical thinking asks much from us, our students, and our colleagues. It entails rigorous self-reflection and open mindedness — the keys to significant changes.

Critical thinking requires the cultivation of core intellectual virtues such as intellectual humility, perseverance, integrity, and responsibility. Nothing of real value comes easily; a rich intellectual environment — alive with curious and determined students — is possible only with critical thinking at the foundation of the educational process.

We do not just advocate educational and social reform based on critical thinking, we develop and build practical alternatives. In a world of accelerating change, intensifying complexity, and increasing interdependence, critical thinking is now a requirement for economic and social survival. Join us as we strive to make critical thinking a core social value and a key organizing concept for all educational reform.

The work of the Foundation is to integrate the Center's research and theoretical developments, and to create events and resources designed to help educators improve their instruction. Materials developed through the Foundation for Critical Thinking include books , thinker's guides , videos , and other teaching and learning resources. The Foundation and Center for Critical Thinking sponsor an annual International Critical Thinking Conference , as well as advanced academies and international academies in Europe.

SOURCE & Home 

Critical Thinking Educators and Administrators Academy



The 41st Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking

For Teachers, Faculty, Administrators, Individuals, College Students, Business, Government, and Military Leaders and Instructors 

Entirely Online 


Pre-Conference: July 25
Main Conference: July 26 - July 30, 2021 

Includes 10 weeks of free membership at the
Center for Critical Thinking Community Online!
(Access begins July 19, 2021.)


Conference Themes:

Critical Thinking as Vital to Thriving in a Complex World Where Fact is Routinely Confused with Fiction

Critical Thinking as the Foundation of Every Subject, Discipline and Profession


The Foundation and Center for Critical Thinking together represent one of the world's oldest think tanks advocating freedom of speech and freedom of thought. 

For over 36 years, we have played a key role in defining and advancing the principles and best practices of fairminded critical thought. 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 all aspects of your work and life.

In the first day's sessions, we focus on the foundations of critical thinking that are at the heart of our approach, foundations that will be contextualized throughout the rest of the conference. Everyone, including those who have worked with our approach for years or even decades, will take away new and valuable ideas from the first day. The rest of the conference will consist of Focal Sessions, Concurrent Sessions, and Roundtable Discussions offered over the following four days. 

When you register for the conference, you will choose your Focal Sessions for each day. Focal Sessions will be led by Fellows and Scholars of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. 

On the fourth day of the conference, you will choose from many options for the Concurrent Sessions and Roundtable Discussions programs. These are led and facilitated by critical-thinking scholars from all walks of life. The full range of options for each program will be available online in advance, and in print at the conference. 

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 - for instructors, students, professionals, and indeed anyone working toward higher levels of reasoning. 

There are essential minimal conditions for cultivating the mind. These entail modes of instruction, learning, and professional and daily reasoning that facilitate development of the standards, abilities, and traits of the rational person. All of the traditional content-areas of school can be, but typically are not, taught so as to foster the use of 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, critically, and sensitively 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, ones that 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 in their 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 critical education, they learn to initiate, analyze, and evaluate their own thinking and the thinking of others (within all the content-areas they study). As they do 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 to 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 fundamental critical thinking principles, and to enrich a core concept of critical thinking with practical strategies for teaching, learning, working, and living. 

For a richer explanation of core critical thinking concepts, click here to see the Thinker's Guide Library 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. 

Ms. Carmen Polka

Ms. Carmen Polka has worked diligently to infuse critical thinking into her classroom instruction, curriculum, and assessment for more than eighteen years. Focused on transforming education through the implementation of quality instructional practices, Ms. Polka instigated and co-authored 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 Paulian theory.

Ms. Polka is currently a principal at an elementary school, as well as a Doctoral candidate in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program at the University of Northern Colorado. She is also a licensed K-12 Special Education teacher.

Dr. Paul Bankes

For more than 10 years, Dr. Bankes has played an important leadership role in fostering the Paulian conception of critical thinking in instruction across his district. As a principal, he led the implementation of this critical thinking approach to achieve state-recognized levels of achievement in three different Title I schools - a high school, a middle school and an elementary school. He helped author the reasoning portion of the Colorado Academic Standards that are based on the Paul-Elder framework. In addition to his administrative experience, Dr. Bankes has taught courses at the college level in critical thinking and served as an elementary teacher. 

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. 

Dr. Patty Payette

Dr. Patty Payette is executive director of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) at the University of Louisville and senior associate director of UofL’s Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning. In these positions, Patty leverages her expertise in faculty development, curriculum design, critical thinking, and higher education training and development. Over the last 20 years, Dr. Payette has designed and delivered hundreds of workshops on teaching and learning topics, including dozens of sessions on critical thinking across the curriculum. She consults with schools and colleges nationally on the design and implementation of critical thinking initiatives and QEP programs. She co-authored with Dr. Brian Barnes a series of six articles for The National Teaching and Learning Forum on teaching for critical thinking and serves as a consulting editor for the journal College Teaching .  She earned her doctorate from the Department of English at Michigan State University in 2001.







"Developing Critical Thinkers: Challenging Adults to Explore Alternative Ways of Thinking and Acting" by Stephen Brookfield

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