Sunday, July 19, 2009

More on Critical Pedagogy

In his book, Critical Pedagogy (2008, second edition), Joe L. Kincheloe helps us understand the central dynamics of critical pedagogy:

"Advocates of critical pedagogy are aware that every minute of every hour that teachers teach, they are faced with complex decisions concerning justice, democracy, and competing ethical claims. While they have to make individual determinations of what to do in these particular circumstances, they must concurrently deal with what John Goodlad (1994) calls the surrounding institutional morality. A central tenet of critical pedagogy maintains that the classroom, curricular, school structures teachers enter are not neutral sites waiting to be shaped by educational professionals. While such professionals do possess agency, this prerogative is not completely free and independent of decisions made previously by people operating with different values and shaped by the ideologies and cultural assumptions of their historical contexts. These contexts are shaped in the same ways language and knowledge are constructed, as historical power makes particular practices seem natural—as if they could have been constructed in no other way." (Chapter 1).

Later in this same work Kincheloe lists the basic concerns of critical pedagogy:

-all education is inherently political and all pedagogy must be aware of this condition
-a social and educational vision of justice and equality should ground all education
-issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, and physical ability are all important domains of oppression and critical anti-hegemonic action.
-the alleviation of oppression and human suffering is a key dimension of educational purpose
-schools must not hurt students--good schools don't blame students for their failures or strip students of the knowledges they bring to the classroom
-all positions including critical pedagogy itself must be problematized and questioned
-the professionalism of teachers must be respected and part of the role of any educator involves becoming a scholar and a researcher
-education must both promote emancipatory change and the cultivation of the intellect--these goals should never be in conflict, they should be synergistic
-the politics of knowledge and issues of epistemology are central to understanding the way power operates in educational institutions to perpetuate privilege and to subjugate the marginalized--"validated" scientific knowledge can often be used as a basis of oppression as it is produced without an appreciation of how dominant power and culture shape it.
-education often reflects the interests and needs of new modes of colonialism and empire. Such dynamics must be exposed, understood, and acted upon as part of critical transformative praxis.

Excerpted from karr.net

I highly recommend Kincheloe's book written with Karel Rose:

Karel Rose and Joe Kincheloe, Art, Culture and Education: Artful Teaching in a Fractured Landscape, Peter Lang, New York, 2003

Note: I was saddened to hear of the recent death of Joe Kincheloe. You can find out more about his incredible life and work at The Freire Project website.

Defining Critical Pedagogy

I came across this definition of critical pedagogy at karr.net.

Critical pedagogy is a teaching approach that attempts to help students question and challenge domination, and the beliefs and practices that dominate. In other words, it is a theory and practice of helping students achieve critical consciousness. Critical pedagogue Ira Shor defines critical pedagogy as

"Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clich├ęs, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse." (Empowering Education, 129)

Critical Pedagogy includes relationships between teaching and learning. It is a continuous process of unlearning, learning and relearning, reflection, evaluation and the impact that these actions have on the students, in particular students who have been historically and continue to be disenfranchised by traditional schooling.