Lesson p.3

“migrant Mother”: a Critical thinking experience

The exercise below provides a model for how the Critical Thinking Scaffold can be applied to a sample text. Read through this model carefully, taking note of the specific critical thinking “moves” each stage of this process involves. When you’re done, you will be asked to do this same critical thinking yourself on another sample text.

In this exercise, we’ll be using two photographs as texts.

“Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange

exercise 1.1

What do you see when you look at this photo? Which elements stand out most to you? Why do you think the picture is arranged this way? What is it designed to get you to think, feel, or do?

the critical thinking scaffold

These kinds of questions go to the heart of what it means to think critically. Rather than take a photo like this and just look at it and move on, critical thinking involves delving beneath the surface of what is shown so that you can better understand how this text is put together, what it is trying to say, and what it actually means. To see what this work looks like, follow each of the stages outlined below.

Step 1: Preliminary Assessment (What Do I Already Know? What Do I Already Think?)

Before you begin examining a text, first consider what assumptions, associations, and expectations you bring to the encounter. This helps you better understand how your personal perspective informs your response.

Critical thinking moves
  • Self-Inventory: to review your own assumptions around a text or topic
  • Self-Reflection: to consider how the assumptions shape your interactions with a text or topic