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Open Review of Educational Research





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Funded in part by the VCU Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

Date of Submission

February 2017


This article explores how critical thinking activities and assignments can function to enhance students’ ethical awareness and sense of civic responsibility. Employing Levinas’s Othercentered theory of ethics, Burke’s notion of ‘the paradox of substance’, and Murray’s concept of ‘a rhetoric of disruption’, this article explores the nature of critical thinking activities designed to have students question their (often taken-for-granted) moral assumptions and interrogate their (often unexamined) moral identities. This article argues that such critical thinking activities can trigger a metacognitive destabilization of subjectivity, understood as a dialectical prerequisite (along with exposure to otherness) for increased ethical awareness. This theoretical model is illustrated through a discussion of three sample classroom activities designed to destabilize moral assumptions and identity, thereby clearing the way for a heightened acknowledgment of otherness. In so doing, this article provides an alternative (and dialectically inverted) strategy for addressing one of the central goals of many General Education curricula: the development of ethical awareness and civic responsibility. Rather than introducing students to alternative perspectives and divergent cultures with the expectation that heightened moral awareness will follow, this article suggests classroom activities and course assignments aimed at disrupting moral subjectivity and creating an opening in which otherness can be more fully acknowledged and the diversity of our world more fully appreciated.


© 2015 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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