Assistant teacher course/Active self-criticism

Active self-criticism

Activity: lecture, group work
Group size: unlimited
Preparation: review and edit handout for cognitive biases
Instructors: 1
Duration: ?



(about yourself) Everything you say is right.

Many people tend to rationalize that because an idea was their own idea it is a good idea or the right choice. The following cognitive biases may be related in some way to this rationalization. The instructor should explain the cognitive biases and discuss the relationship between each bias and the rationalization that what you say or do must be right (because you decided to say it or do it). In some cases the relationship is indirect or minor, in other cases the relationship will be very apparent.

Explaining the cognitive biases and discussing the relationships to the rationalization with the course can also be delegated to participants. Each participant can be given a presentation assignment for the purpose and prepare his lecture in group work or individual work.

Decision-making and behavioral biases:
Biases in probability and belief:
Social biases, Attributional biases:
Memory errors:

Active self-criticism


Why is "active self-criticism" active? The term is meant not only to imply that you criticise yourself but also that you can do it without anybody prompting you to criticise yourself in any way. The ideal attitude of mind here is that the assistant teacher learns to reveal his own mistakes and biases to himself without any need for a dialog partner, which should, of course, not be interpreted to depreciate the value of a dialog (e.g. with a mentor) by itself.

Can you remind yourself to check your own thinking for cognitive biases and logical fallacies?

  • What can you do to remind yourself?
  • Can you invite others to point out cognitive biases and logical fallacies to you? Could that help you to remind yourself?
  • What are the preconditions so others can provide that service?

Taking an intermediate position


Pupils tend to take extreme positions occasionally because they may not have learned yet to search actively for more appropriate or more moderate positions.

Can you remind yourself to find more moderate positions?

  • What can make you review your own positions?

How can you help others to find more moderate positions?

  • Some people may not like to listen to your advice. Can you find diplomatic phrases?
  • How can you encourage others to take advice? Admitting your own past mistakes, for example, may encourage others to take advice but may also require sympathetic listeners.

Can others help you to find more moderate positions?

  • What do you have to do to appreciate advice and to communicate that you do?

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