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Study Tools: Developing Critical Thinking in the Arts and Humanities: Your Informed Voice (Part 1)

This workshop explores what lecturers mean when they urge students of the Arts and Humanities to find their OWN critical voice, to exercise critical thinking.

Questions to pose

Several questions arise from this academic expectation: 1. What does the expression 'exercising critical faculty' mean? 2. Why is finding your own critical voice so desirable? 3. How do you achieve this? 4. What would the opposite of a critical voice sound like?

Exercising critical faculty in the study of the Arts and Humanities?

Students sometimes believe that there are no criteria (standards) for establishing the validity of the expression of a view on a topic in the Arts and Humanities. This claim arises from a fundamental misunderstanding of discussions in the Arts as being 'purely subjective' expressions of opinion in which 'anything goes'. There is, we are told, no such thing as evidence to support analysis in the Arts and Humanities. If this were true, it would not be possible to exercise critical faculty in relation to the study of our disciplines.

The matter of evidence

In this workshop we ask what the word 'subjective' is thought to mean in the Academy as a whole. We consider what 'counts' as EVIDENCE in analyses of the kind which we in the Arts and Humanities conduct.

The opposite of a critical voice

In the process, we learn about the 'washing-line' essay and why it is unacceptable in the Anglophone academic context. We ask why some sources of internet and other forms of information do not belong in academic discussion, or cannot be used to support an (academic) argument.

Prerequisites

We will practise on extracts from texts which will be supplied in the workshop.

To book a place on this workshop see the current School of Arts timetable or the MyBirkbeck academic development workshops.

Theme tags: Academic Skills, Critical thinking, Essay writing, Reading and note-taking skills, Study skills, Writing skills