~ Critical Language-Literacy Basics ~

Why Thinking, Especially Critical Thinking,

is the First Language / Literacy Art

Three Basic Ideas to Lead Students to Develop Critical Language-Literacy

Thinking, especially critical thinking, is the first language / literacy art. Therefore, when engaging new and revisited subject matter, these ideas are essential to the development of critical language-literacy in all learners, teachers and students:

– To think critically of anything, you must employ a critical reasoning process.

To read, listen, write, speak, observe, and compute for critical subject matter comprehension, you must employ a critical reasoning process.

– To explain anything critically in writing or when speaking, you must employ a critical reasoning process.


  • A critical reasoning process is the mental view you take of subject matter. It is how you reason when thinking of the facts and ideas within new and revisited subject matter. A critical reasoning process is an explicit mental framework used to arrange facts and ideas for purposes of (1) understanding, comprehending, and explaining; (2) engaging in argumentation, and (3) solving problems.
  • Said another way, a critical reasoning process is how you have your mind arrange (i.e., organize, systemize, assemble, construct, form patterns for), subject matter facts and ideas when you think, read, and write. It is therefore the mental foundation for how you ask your students to think, read, and write critically when leading them in gaining understanding and comprehension of subject matter.
  • ​There are severe negative consequences for subject matter instructional practice that is not based on the use of critical, formal, explicit, and shared critical reasoning processes; processes that reflect the innate and critical grammar of mind of human beings. Negative consequences include inducement of rote learning and the defeat of critical language-literacy abilities in all students in critical thinking, reading, listening, writing, speaking, observing, and computing. This includes disadvantaged, English language learners, general, and special education students.

For more discussion, including a cognitive framework for how the conscious human mind thinks and learns, see Table 3.1 in Chapter 3 – Thinking: The First Language Art, in Preparation for Critical Instruction – How to Explain Subject Matter While Teaching All Learners to Think, Read, and Write Critically (2016)