Recent educational discourse is full of references to the value of critical thinking as a 21st-century skill. In music education, critical thinking has been discussed in relation to problem solving and music listening, and some researchers suggest that training in critical thinking can improve students’ responses to music. But what exactly is meant by “critical thinking”? This article explores how critical thinking, when thought of as an outgrowth of Critical Theory and pedagogy concepts, may look very different than our popular definitions of the concept. This reframing of critical thinking requires that students take an active role in questioning and challenging music, education, and the ways in which they may take critical action to pursue change. Examples of critical thinking questions, activities, and curricula are offered, and resources are included for further reading.
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