Critical Explorations

Imagine a classroom where captivating materials and students' ideas drive classroom discussion and exploration and where students learn to trust their own thinking and that of their peers, rather than relying on the teacher as the provider of answers and knowledge. "Critical exploration" (CE) is a philosophy and pedagogy that empowers students to explore complex and puzzling materials and provides teachers with tools to reveal the intricacy of student thinking.

Rivendell Interstate School District turned to the Critical Explorers organization for help and guidance in developing CEs for our students. For more information see the Critical Explorers website. Our work was also supported by a fellowship from the Rowland Foundation.

Students at Rivendell explore rich materials and work together as a class to make sense of complex topics. This site holds examples of the types of explorations that we have done.

Aztec Empire critical exploration

The Aztec Empire

Joan of Arc critical exploration

Joan of Arc

Standard Deviation critical exploration

Geology of the SW

What is life? critical exploration

What is life?

Food and Culture critical exploration

Food and Culture

Monuments critical exploration


Standard Deviation

What should we eat? critical exploration

What should we eat?

The Gilded Age

Genetic Disease and Cancer