TITLE OF THE PROJECT:A PHILOSOPHICAL CRITIQUE OF CRITICAL THINKING PEDAGOGY IN KENYAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS’ CURRICULUM
Across the globe, the goals of learning for elementary, secondary and higher education curricula tend to emphasize the development of critical thinking (CT) pedagogy in teaching and critical thinking skills in learning. Contrary to this goal, there seems to be inconsistencies in how learning goals are interpreted mostly in Africa and particularly in Kenya. This study therefore, performed a philosophical analysis on the status of critical thinking pedagogy, assessed and proposed improvements to the existing approaches to critical thinking pedagogy in the Kenyan secondary schools’ curriculum. The Kenyan 8-4-4 curriculum which is being phased out according to KICD 2017 emphasized competition in exams; content memorization, teacher centered approach in teaching/learning and focused mostly on summative assessments. To address this issues, the newly introduced competency based curriculum (CBC) listed among others, critical thinking and problem solving skills as a core competency in teaching/learning. In secondary school for example the CBC recommend that learners be asked to find better ways of solving the problem of meagre resources such as food, water and electricity both within the school and the community surrounding them without any logical or epistemological basis.Using Kantian critical judgment theory which employs Socratic questioning and critical analysis method to assess human actions or behaviors, the study found that learners’ involvement in problem identification and problem solving was key in the development of critical thinking skills within them. Without learners’ involvement, the knowledge/skills given to them can neither be creative nor critical.Using this theory against the Kenyan secondary education curriculum, it was not clear whether CT pedagogy and thus CT were employed in teaching/learning by the 8-4-4 curriculum and the progressive 2-6-6-3 curriculum because the two systems of education have not clearly defined how CT had to be imparted in learners during teaching/learning process. Rooted on the school culture and experiences of teachers’ commitment to the CT integration, this study, had suggested mechanism in which CT policies and ambitions of the school might be revised in the curriculum to include logic (inductive and deductive reasoning) and epistemology (mainly constructivism model) to achieve required CT pedagogical goals. Only by equipping all teachers with knowledge to integrate CT across the curriculum in the Kenyan secondary school systematically, can the critical thinking culture be realised in those schools and across the nation. Based on the inductive analysis; teachers competent in CT, committed to teaching CT, integrating CT holistically in all programmes of the school, competent pedagogically and practicing of CT across the school can create a CT culture in teaching /learning at secondary schools. Integration of CT across the secondary school curriculum can best be achieved by employing critical thinking and learning model which consists of Bloom’s taxonomy, CT dispositions and the Pearson’s/Watson-Glaser RED model. If these strategies are employed, then, the Kenyan secondary schools shall realize a CT culture, the 21st century skills for the global citizen, for higher learning and the workplace. Further research is called for to investigate if it is possible to extend CT learning/teaching for learners in primary schools and investigate systematically how to transfer CT to other domains of knowledge by training only within one domain.
Key terms:Critical Thinking, Enlargement of Mind, Community of Inquiry, Philosophy for Children and Curriculum.