A Language of Instruction

Glossary of Critical Instruction Pedagogy
and Related Instructional Terms




Argumentation Argumentation is one mode of critical thinking. It includes the prac- tices of revealing faulty reasoning in another, seeking agreement on a given issue, debating issues, and attempts at persuasion and resolution.



Cogeracy Cogeracy is the ability to think recollectively, logically, critically, and creatively. Cogeracy is the basis for literacy.

Core Body of Knowledge for Critical Instruction A typical core body of knowledge includes a common language of practice, foundation principles and skills, and associated standards. For instructional practice, the core includes a language of instruction; teaching and learning standards for critical thinking, reading, and writing; the four categories of thinking; and teacher preparation courses in critical learning and critical instruction.

Critical Comprehension To comprehend a subject matter topic critically is to reveal its objective, the processes that achieve the objective, and the consequences that follow.

Critical Instruction Critical Instruction is the formal and explicit use of mind grammar and subject matter universals to connect and integrate the facts and ideas within new and revisited subject matter in ways that explain a topic critically while simultaneously developing in all learners (teachers and students), English Language (or other language) Literacy (ELLit) abilities to think, read, listen, write, speak, observe, and compute critically.

Critical Instruction Pedagogy draws on the natural science of our innately critical grammar-of-mind for engaging the world and its subject matter. It combines achievement of subject matter comprehension of new and revisited subject matter with the simultaneous development in all learners of the ability to think, read, listen, write, speak, observe, and compute critically. Critical instruction pedagogy provides the basis for a core curriculum for teacher education, professional development, and textbook / academic writing. The core body of knowledge for critical instruction pedagogy, originated by Dr. Victor Maiorana, includes (1) a common instructional language, (2) Formal and explicit reasoning processes for critical thinking, reading, and writing directed at new and revisited subject matter, (3) operational critical literacy standards for faculty and students.

Critical Language Literacy [CLLit] is the ability to formally apply mind grammar when thinking, reading, listening, writing, speaking, observing, and computing.


Critical Learning Critical learning is gaining critical understanding and comprehension of content while concurrently developing the ability to think, read, listen, write, speak, observe, and compute (i.e., collectively referred to as Critical Language Literacy – CLLit). Critical learning provides the foundation  for explaining new and revisited subject matter critically and for the development in all learners (teachers and students), of CLLit.


Critical Pedagogy as popularized by Paulo Freire is concerned mainly with criticizing political, cultural, social, and economic norms in the service of challenging the established order and reducing inequality. It is concerned mainly with inquiry-based problem-solving, which is one of the three modes of critical thinking. But effective problem-solving requires that one first understand and then comprehend the topic or issue at hand. In this respect, Critical Pedagogy does not provide the theoretical, developmental, or procedural means to engage school and college students in critical thinking, reading, and writing when leading them to understand and comprehend new and revisited subject matter.

Critical Reading for Understanding and Comprehension Critical reading for understanding is the application of MG1 mind grammar to textual material. Critical reading for comprehension is the application of MG2 mind grammar to textual material.

Critical Thinking When discussing critical thinking, one needs to make clear which mode one has in mind. The same applies to the thoughts of others who listen, read, write, and speak of critical thinking. There are three modes of critical thinking: (1) understanding/comprehension/explanation, (2) argumentation, and (3) situational resolution (e.g., problem solving). Mode 1 comprehension and its cognitive twin explanation is most important for two fundamental reasons: (a) Mode 1 directly operationalizes critical instruction explanation and learning in classrooms and in textbook / academic writing, and (b) Mode 1 provides the essential mental foundation and preparation for effective argumentation and problem solving. Mode 1 critical thinking is to comprehend (i.e., learn) or explain a new or revisited subject matter topic formally, explicitly, systematically, and reliably by connecting and integrating the facts and ideas associated with the intent (i.e., subject matter objective), processes, and consequences of a given topic.


Critical Understanding To understand a subject matter topic critically is to reveal its objective and the processes that achieve the objective.

Critical Writing for Explanation Critical writing for understanding is explaining a given topic based on the application of MG1 mind grammar. Critical writing for comprehension is explaining a given topic based on the application of MG2 mind grammar. The mind grammar elements can appear in any order, can be mixed, and can be revisited.



Deep Learning There are three levels of deep learning: understanding, comprehension, and pathway development. Achieving deep understanding of a given topic requires a first level of critical thinking in the form of MG1 reasoning strategy. MG1 reveals the topic’s objective and activities. Achieving deep comprehension of a given topic requires a second, more thoughtful, level of critical reasoning. Using MG2, this takes the form of revealing the topic’s objective, activities, and consequences. Pathway development is used to achieve still deeper learning. One uses MG1 or MG2 to address a subtopic within a given topic.

Differentiated Instruction Differentiated instruction requires teachers to change their instructional approaches to suit the individual needs of each student in class. With roteism-based instruction, this desired objective is near impossible to achieve. On the other hand, critical instruction does lend itself to a realistic form of differentiated instruction. See the answer to question 7 under the heading Questions and Answers Regarding Critical Instruction Practice in Chapter 2 of Teach Like the Mind Learns (2017), or visit menu item “Frequent Questions.”



Instructional Community There are three parts to the instructional community: immediate, related, and extended. The immediate instructional community includes teacher–educators, teacher-candidates, school and college faculty, instructional coaches, counselors, teacher aides, professional developers, parents who homeschool, curriculum and instruction designers, and principals. For more on the instructional community, see endnote 13 in Chapter 1 of Teach Like the Mind Learns (2017).

Instructional Methodology An instructional methodology is a combination of a specific istrategy and a specific itechnique for engaging subject matter. One se- lects a specific istrategy and merges it with a specific itechnique to form a specific imethod.

Instructional Set Based on Grammar as an Instruction and Learning Strategy An instructional set is a collection of classroom assignments that address a specific subject matter topic. The assignments in a mind grammar–based instruc- tional set are founded on the use of mind grammar critical reasoning strategies. Assignments within such a set use instructional techniques, with mind grammar as the instructional strategy. This leads students to not only think critically but to read, listen, write, speak, and observe critically as well.

Instructional Strategy An instructional strategy is the mental view one takes of sub- ject matter. Istrategy is how one reasons when thinking of new and revisited subject matter. An explicit istrategy is arranging subject matter according to some reason- ing framework or thinking theory for purposes of understanding, comprehending, and explaining subject matter.

Instructional Technique An instructional technique provides the means to imple- ment an istrategy. An itechnique is a way to actively engage students with the subject matter at hand. All itechniques are used in the context of some explicit istrategy.



Logical ThinkingLogical thinking is the listing of persons, places, things, and/or ideas in an orderly sequence where the concern is the internal serial logic of the list itself and not the meaning, function, or purpose served by the subject matter of the list.



Mind Grammar, Informal Informal mind grammar is the innate and informal way the human mind deals with daily life. It generally follows the pattern of intent- activities and, when functioning fully, considers the consequences that follow. Ordinarily, when it comes to engaging new and revisited subject matter, we do not explicitly and formally use that innate pattern when thinking, reading, and writing.

Mind Grammar, Formal Formal mind grammar is the systematic and explicitly critical and patterned way to engage new and revisited subject matter. Formal mind grammar represents an explicit critical thinking strategy for understanding, comprehending, explaining, reading, and writing. Such thinking applies to critically explaining something to one’s self (i.e., self-instruction) or to others (i.e., instruction). Based on the way the mind works naturally, MG1 and MG2 mind grammar provide the basis for teachers and students to develop and share explicit critical thinking patterns when thinking, reading, and writing.”

Mind Grammar 1 (MG1) MG1 is the formal use of the pattern objective-process when engaging subject matter. MG1 helps all learners (teachers and students) to achieve critical subject matter understanding and engage in critical reading and writing.

Mind Grammar 2 (MG2) MG2 is the use of the pattern objective-process- consequences when engaging subject matter. MG2 helps all learners (teachers and students) to achieve critical subject matter comprehension and engage in critical reading and writing.

Modes of Critical Thinking See Critical Thinking.



New and Revisited Subject Matter New subject matter refers to curriculum content that is new to the K through graduate learner. Revisited subject matter refers to previously discussed content that the learner has not grasped or reviewing content for purposes of reinforcement or test preparation.



Pathway Development Depth of learning on a given topic never really ends. Critical thinking for deeper comprehension can begin anew by investigating subtopics as- sociated with a main topic. Seeking deeper comprehension of a subtopic related to a given topic is called pathway development. Developing pathways to deepen comprehension can be repeated for any subtopic and its subtopics. This continues until the learner has reached a level of comprehension that suits his or her needs. See the topic heading Pathways to Still Deeper Learning in Chapter 4, p. 52, in Preparation for Critical Instruction: How to Explain Subject Matter While Teaching All Learners to Think, Read, and Write Critically (Maiorana, 2016).”

Pedagogical Content Knowledge Content knowledge is what one knows about a subject. Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) refers to the instructional skills needed to teach that subject. In the education culture, the use of the PCK term is misleading. It implies that the disciplines are markedly different structurally. Therefore, each discipline requires its own unique way of instruction to promote understanding and comprehension. The practice of critical instruction shows that this is not true. All subject matter is rooted structurally in there concepts associated with MG1 and MG2.

Critical thinking, reading, and writing in the form of mind grammar applies to all disciplines. Mind grammar is universal and not unique to any discipline. Therefore, it is more realistic to say that PCK refers to certain in-discipline truisms, issues, problems, and approaches to problem solving that experience shows lend themselves to effective instruction. For more on this, see Fixing Instruction: Resolving Major Issues with a Core Body of Knowledge for Critical Instruction (Maiorana, 2015), Chapter 3.

Problem Solving Problem solving is one mode of critical thinking. It addresses situations that require resolution. Approaches to problem solving include the problem-solving method, systems analysis, the decision-making process, and the scientific method.



Roteism Let’s imagine the following. A group of people have gathered to launch a profession. The profession is to be called teaching. Teachers will lead students to learn the world’s subject matter through thinking, reading, writing and discussion.

Someone asks, “On what basis should we base our practice; that is, how will we lead students mentally when discussing subject matter?

If educators had set out to select the most boring, intellectually bitter, least motivating way to teach and learn subject matter, then we could hardly have done worse than choose the mentally serial, static, crystallized, one-dimensional, rote-inducing, literacy-defeating approach to subject matter on which the profession continues to base its roteism practice.

Roteism practice denies who we are as humans; humans who have an innate and informal grammar of mind, the gift of a natural science of mind, to engage the world and its subject matter critically. The mind wants to learn critically, but the profession does not teach like the mind learns. We do not explain new and revisited subject matter critically based on the use of critically explicit reasoning processes.

Roteism practice is not based on a critical reasoning process. It provides the profession with no means to explain new and rested subject by connecting and integrating a topic’s facts and ideas based on the three defined natural attributes that universally make up all subject matter: subject matter objective, processes, consequences.

Roteism not only induces rote learning, it provides no mental foundation to lead students to develop abilities in critical literacy: thinking, reading, and writing critically.

Roteism-Based Instruction Roteism-based instruction is the discussion of subject matter topics one after another without also making and revealing critical connections within and among a topics’ facts and ideas. Because it provides no critical pattern for subject matter engagement, roteism-based instruction induces rote learning and defeats the concurrent development of critical thinking, reading, and writing literacy abilities.

Roteism Instructional Mental Process The Roteism instructional mental process is the strictly linear, static, crystalized, and one-dimensional traditional mental view of subject matter. It reveals little with respect to how all subject matter is universally and critically constructed, connected, and integrated.



Subject Matter Subject matter is anything that you can think about. Subject matter is anything you can read, write, and talk about or hear and observe. Subject matter is anything you can sense or the mind can imagine. Subject matter is anything in this world and beyond. For more on the nature of subject matte

Subject Matter Objective A subject matter objective is a complete statement of the intent or end-in-view, effect, meaning, purpose, function, or importance of the sub- ject matter topic at hand.”

Subject Matter Universals All subject matter is composed of the ideas, concepts, theories, facts, and processes ever discovered, conceived, imagined, revealed, be- lieved, and thought of by the human mind. These elements take the systematic form of intent (i.e., objective), processes, and consequences. This pattern is universal in all curriculum subject matter, the product of the human mind. Accordingly, regardless of discipline, all subject matter topics share this common systematic theme. It is through formal mind grammar that the universal elements of subject matter are revealed critically.

Glossary Origin

The glossary represents the language of critical instruction. Most of there terms in the glossary were originated and defined by Dr. Victor P. Maiorana in connection with his conceptual, developmental, and procedural work on critical instruction and learning. For those terms not originated by Dr. Maiorana (e.g., pedagogical content knowledge, deep learning), he provides his unique view on how they should be defined.

If you would like to comment on or contribute to the critical instruction glossary, visit the Contact page.