Towards a Poetics of Critical Thinking for autonomy

Critical thinking is reflective thinking that guarantees the autonomy of being. The ability to think critically involves identifying and applying analogies. It is a cognitive process of inference, which passes from a particular object to another particular object, valuing the common elements. It is used as a problem solving technique.
Phases of Critical Thinking

The process of producing critical thinking begins with the identification of what is known and what remains to be known.

This first phase involves collecting relevant information about what we already know, how we know it and identifying what is necessary to know. Diagnostic phase
• Organize ideas and create logic. It is necessary to understand what is necessary to understand, why it is necessary and what it is necessary for. It is a time when it is necessary to look at issues from different perspectives, to understand the different meanings. Questioning phase
• Identify faults and absences. When looking at what remains to be known and what is known in different ways, it becomes easier to understand what is missing and what fails in thinking about this object. Stage of revelation or insight
• The moment when having appropriated what exists and what is missing, implies making a new synthesis. Reviewing what has been done and Integrating the new, Simplifying through analogy can be an exercise that favors discovery. Synthesis Phase
• We have reached the poetic phase, where through analogy we seek pure, simple and enlightening forms that give stability to the problem (resolution). Phase of Poetics.

Critical thinking is the basis of pedagogy for autonomy. It is at the center of educational activity and is the object of educational activity. To think autonomously is to know how to evaluate ideas and arguments according to the reasons and evidence presented, supported by value systems. It is far from being an innate exercise in the cognitive process, it needs to be trained and applied constantly. It constitutes the basis of living in society.

A society that practices a critical spirit, at its limit, would not need institutions that regulate social action. However, the different State institutions are faced with the need to place limits on the action of critical thinking, based on a definition of the common good, forgetting that this common good is fluid and unstable.

This is one of the school’s paradoxes. At the same time that it must practice the exercise of critical thinking for one of its purposes, as an agent of the action of the state, it acts by limiting the exercise of that critical thinking. It applies discipline and authoritarianism as a model of regulation.
A second paradox, however, arises today in schools. In an era of societal transition, where the flow of information flows through different channels, the school is no longer the only instance of legitimizing knowledge. Critical thinking is an educational tool that is available to find a direction in information flows. However, it is not subject to appropriation by schools because it reverses the principles of authority where it is founded and where the legitimacy that gives it stability rests.

Por Pedro Pereira Leite

Pedro Pereira Leite:
Guest Professor at Lusophone University where he is a member of the executive board of the UNITWIN Chair of UNESCO "Education, Citizenship and Cultural Diversity" (2018-2022). He has been a professor in the PhD and Master's programs in Museology since 2011. He is currently promoting the installation of the MED Museum of Global Education and Cultural Diversity, a program to include local knowledge and memories to create sustainable communities.
He is Member of the Direction of the International Movement for a New Museology (MINOM / ICOM). Integrates the member bodies of ICOM Portugal (2014 - 2020). He is part of several research networks and has collaborated with the UNESCO School Network and the Educating Cities Network in Portugal. It develops research activity in Portugal, Spain, Brazil and in Mozambique.
It maintains the research book Education, Citizenship and Cultural Diversity ( and Social Museology and Ecomuseus in Portugal (
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