Classroom Critical Thinking

Found in: SCEA News | Published on: 19 June 2017

Tracey Price presenting at the 2017 Better Education Conference

Tracey Price is the Head of School and Senior Lecturer, Education Faculty, Tabor College of Higher Education. She enjoys encouraging educators to think ‘outside the square’ to help them create learning environments that facilitate and sustain high levels of student learning engagement.

In the workshop Tracey used the concept of ‘hospitality’ to demonstrate what an authentic and relational teaching environment might look like. The students, as comfortable guests, accepted and valued, but free to still have their own identity, came as a good analogy.

She explained that students could work within the boundaries of classroom management, but still feel free from intimidation to conform to the teacher’s ideas. In such an environment students would not be expected to blindly take on the teacher’s views, but would be given the opportunity, time and space to think deeply about things. They would have the freedom, and the responsibility, to develop their own answers and to think critically about the world around them. She described it as a ‘friendly emptiness’, not already filled with answers, but a space where students can develop their own answers, with guidance. 

Tracey used Nicholas Wolterstoff’s concept of ‘Primary justice’ to explain that justice is being done when we respect and celebrate another’s worth, in our case that of our students. She discussed what a space such as this might look like, as identified by ‘Parker Palmer, well known author, scholar and award winner. He said a space should be bounded and open, hospitable and charged, invite the voice of the individual and the voice of the group. It should honour the individual stories, but also the bigger pictures of disciplines and traditions. It should support solitude and silence, but also community and speech.

Tracey said that by teaching hospitably a teacher will provide a learning space that intellectually, emotionally and spiritually nurtures students. She believes it will reflect God’s own character and be demonstrated as a Christian approach to teaching and learning.’

In her own words, Tracey likes to make her audience think, ask questions and go away with more food for thought than answers.

That she did. 

Summary by Antionette Wilson

Access the 2017 Better Education Conference 'Be' Magazine online to read more from our conference speakers & other contributors.