TC² @ 25
Focus for This Month
Success Stories
Next Steps
Media Release
TC² @ 25
Focus for This Month
Success Stories
Next Steps
Media Release

November: Creating Teaching Resources that Nurture Critical Inquiry

Shortly after the inception of The Critical Thinking Consortium (TC²) in 1993, LeRoi Daniels, Roland Case, and a small group of social studies educators met to explore the possibility of developing resources to nurture critical thinking. They felt inspired by the unconventional idea (galvanized by historian James Loewen) that teachers had a key role to play in encouraging students to question the conventional view of history presented in their textbooks.

TC² begins to publish

To support educators attempting to take on this challenge, the founders of TC² soon began developing critical thinking challenges. In the words of Roland Case, these challenges were designed to nurture “the intellectual resources or tools that students require to competently make judgement about historical and contemporary issues.”

The inception of the first of these was an exercise in tweaking the content and learning activities offered in a commonly used history textbook. This effort led to creation of one of TC²’s first critical challenges: using an historical image to explore multiple perspectives of an important event: the Battle of Bunker Hill. In turn, the work on this challenge led to the creation of TC²’s first resource: Critical Challenges in Social Studies for Junior High Students, first published in 1996.

The story of TC²’s first publication is noteworthy because it highlights two distinguishing aspects of all TC² teaching and learning materials:

  1. Critical thinking is at the heart of TC² resources.
  2. Collaboration is at the heart of TC² resource development.

Critical thinking: At the heart of TC² resources

In the 1990s, some suggested that it was neither possible nor desirable to integrate critical thinking into textbooks and other teaching resources. Yet the development of TC²’s first resource demonstrated that critical thinking could indeed be integrated into subject-area learning. Further, the approach clearly led to increased student engagement and deeper understanding.

At TC², we continue to believe that critical thinking can be successfully integrated into all types of teaching and learning materials. Since the publication of our first resource, the TC² collection has grown to include professional learning resources, fully developed lesson collections, anthologies, image sets, historical document sets, briefing sheets, tips for teachers, and video chats—all exploring critical thinking and the intellectual tools required to make reasoned judgments.

Collaboration: At the heart of TC² resource development

The second unique aspect of TC² resources is how they are developed. TC²’s first publication was created in collaboration with educators, for educators. We continue to develop resources in partnerships, working closely with a diverse range of groups to design and create teaching and learning resources to help them meet their specific educational goals.

TC² develops its teaching and learning resources with five types of partners:

  1. ministries of education in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and the Atlantic provinces
  2. government organizations, such as Open School BC, Alberta Heritage, Statistics Canada, Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian International Development Agency, the National Film Board, and the Library of Parliament, BC Hydro (a Crown corporation)
  3. teacher and professional groups, including the British Columbia Principals and Vice Principals Association, Canadian Teachers’ Federation, Alberta Regional Professional Development Consortia, Ontario History and Social Studies Teachers’ Association, and Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario
  4. school districts such as the Grand Erie District School Board
  5. non-profit groups such as The Right to Play, Emerging Leaders for Solar Energy, and the Canada First World War Internment Recognition Fund

Shining a light

Shining a Light on Solar Energy—one of TC²’s most recent publications—illustrates both of the distinctive aspects of TC² resources. Its development involved intense collaboration, with both professional engineers and members of Leaders for Solar Energy (ELSE). The resulting collection of K-12 lessons integrates critical inquiry into the study of solar panels and sustainable energy.

The promise of more to come

Since the publication of our first teaching resource, TC² has put more than 88 000 resources into the hands of educators. These cover a broad range of subject areas, including science, math, language arts, geography, history, and social studies, and in both English and French. It is our hope that every one of them has enriched—and continues to enrich—the classroom experiences of teachers and students alike.

TC² continues to work with our partners to develop learning and teaching resources that develop intellectual capacity and encourage quality thinking. Perhaps you can see ways that your organization could partner with TC² to develop a resource for your community? If so, please contact Andy Nesbitt, director of business development at TC², who can help make your vision a reality

—The TC² team

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