Critical thinking and innovation in primary school education in Taiwan
Preparation for the twenty-first century presents Taiwan's education with a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to reflect upon the existing value system; the opportunity is to innovate. The thesis has seven chapters. The first chapter deals with educational provision in Taiwan. The difficulties of teaching critical thinking in Taiwan are located in distortions of the educational function, the instrumental role of teachers and the traditional type of teaching and learning. The second chapter looks at how education is framed by culture and society. A lack of autonomy is identified as the major crisis of education in Taiwan. In the third chapter, the characteristics of critical thinking are shown in its four modes: the supernatural mode, the empirical mode, the subject-dialectical mode and the communicative mode. In chapter four, a definition of critical thinking is given. It is suggested that the commonalities of critical thinking are autonomy, dialectical development, multi-dimensional cognition, emancipation from alienation, and reconstruction. In chapter five, a good life based on critical thinking is sketched out, which is made up of autonomy, harmony and reconstruction. The task of chapter six is clarifying the distinction between education and indoctrination; and arguing that autonomy is an adequate criterion for distinguishing education from indoctrination. Chapter seven is devoted to working out the principles for the teaching of critical thinking. It is suggested that these principles are those of emancipation, autonomy and reconstruction. Overall, this thesis is aimed at developing a theoretical foundation for specifying what critical thinking is; assessing the specific cultural and educational obstacles to its introduction in Taiwan; and the thesis concludes with suggestions about how to put critical thinking into educational practice through evolutionary innovation.