Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

John R. Murray

Second Advisor

Steven Schwartz

Third Advisor

Delores Gallo


Pond secrets is an original play designed to create a context for motivating children to learn and practice critical thinking in its strongest sense through reflective dialogue and improvisational drama. The story's design, content, and suggested methodology are theoretically consistent with Brain-based learning theory, which asserts that memorable learning occurs when children can integrate concepts, emotions, and values in a meaningful context and environment. Using a mythical setting and features of classical literature, Pond secrets invites children to join the animals of Pond as they gather to examine their thinking and affirm the meaning of friendship, citizenship, and justice. Not settling on any one definition of critical thinking, Pond secrets reflects a synthesis of expert descriptions that advances the following modified definition: Critical thinking is used to make decisions, form beliefs, solve problems, and learn new concepts. It is a dialogical questioning process that uses reasonable and imaginative reflection. Additionally, it is a purposive and disciplined process that relies on criteria, is self-correcting, and is sensitive to context. In its strongest sense, critical thinking is fair-minded and caring. Moreover, Pond secrets targets the following critical thinking skills for development : making a reliable observation, evaluating a source of information forming a reliable framework for perspectives, and examining cause and effect relationships. The target skills are infused and interwoven in the story to enable children to develop skill using them individually and together as a process transferable through subject domain. Pond secrets models a community of inquiry that provokes integrative learning while promoting the application of critical and creative thinking to the moral domain of reasoning. As a framework for deliberation and dialogue, Pond secrets develops a model of justice that balances the principles of equal treatment and beneficence; Pond secrets replaces beneficence with the ethic of caring as a more accurate description of the orientation of empathic underscoring the promotion of goodness. Pond secrets is accompanied by a theoretical guide that discusses the main ideas relevant to its implementation. The guide reviews cognitive development, issues of indoctrination, the psychological and philosophical underpinning of the justice model, and critical and creative thinking as relevant to Pond secret's content and methodology. Pond secrets offers the educator free imaginative reign to design lesson plans that suit the needs of the learning environment, provided that the criteria of critical thinking and the justice model are adhered to in methodology that is neutral and accordance with Brain based learning theory.

Included in

Playwriting Commons