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29 December 2006 @ 05:31 pm
"Freedom is a must, a constant challenge. Genuine freedom, even rebellious freedom, is never seen as a deterioration of order. Coherently democratic authority carries the conviction that true discipline does not exist in the muteness of those who have been silenced but in the stirrings of those who have been challenged, in the doubt of those who have been prodded, and in the hopes of those who have been awakened."

Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom, 86.
Current Mood: busy
28 December 2006 @ 08:25 pm
"... the practice of critical teaching... involves a dynamic and dialectical relationship between 'doing' and 'reflecting on doing.'... a correct way of thinking that goes beyond the ingenuous must be produced by the learners in communion with the teacher responsible for their education... For this reason, in the process of the ongoing education of teachers, the essential movement is that of critical reflection on one's practice... Its epistemological 'distance' from practice as an object of analysis out to be compensated for by an even greater proximity to the object of analysis, in terms of lived experience."
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom, 43.

For more on critical reflection, see Stephen Brookfield's Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher: http://trc.virginia.edu/Publications/Teaching_Concerns/Fall_1997/TC_Fall_1997_Lasser.htm
Current Location: Concord, MA
Current Mood: creative
24 December 2006 @ 10:07 pm
Some reflections on Freire

"This, thus, is the great humanistic and historical task of the
oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well... Only
power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be
sufficiently strong to free both."

Paulo Friere, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, pg. 28

"As the oppressed, fighting to be human, take away the oppressors'
power to dominate and suppress, they restore to the oppressors the
humanity they had lost in the exercise of oppression" - pg. 42

Oppression theory is something that has fascinated me from the moment
that I first learned about it. In my freshmen year of high school, I
attended an eye-opening anti-racism workshop where they taught us
about how racism structures the legal system, the media, and the other
institutions that we live under.

Freire's ideas about the oppressed liberate the oppressor, likewise,
intrigue me. I wonder, though, in this complex world of interlinking
oppressions and co-construction of identity categories what it means
to divide people into oppressed and oppressor. For example, is a
white queer male with disabilities more or less oppressed than a black
straight female? One theorist even asserted strongly that there is
"no hierarchy of oppressions." So who is liberating whom? Is the
exercise of anti-oppression inherently liberatory for everyone? Can,
as anti-racism trainings assert, white people unlearn their own
racism? In the workshop that I was in, a black man leading the
training asserted that white people don't need black people to undo
their own racism-- that in fact, white people becoming anti-racists
was a precondition to any meaningful inclusion of black people in
institutional structures. But if that is so, doesn't it deny the
agency of the oppressed, and ignore the fact that as Frederick
Douglass stated that the oppressor only makes concessions because of
the actions of the oppressed? Friere's statements, for me, raise more
questions than they provide answers.

"The banking approach to adult education, for example, will never
propose to students that they critically consider reality. It will
deal instead with such vital questions as whether Roger gave green
grass to the goat, and insist upon the importance of learning that, on
the contrary, Roger gave green grass to the rabbit."

Paulo Friere, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, p.61

This comment by Freire is made almost in jest. Yet, it is true that
much of education consists of learning meaningless facts and reading
nonsense books and sentences instead of learning socially
transformative praxis. Critical consideration of reality is what
critical educators (pedagogues?) strive for, even in something
considered supposedly basic such as adult literary education. It
would be interesting to apply these ideas to childhood education-- for
example, what would a critical version of the Teletubbies look like
for young children? Some examples of critically-informed children's
literature include the classic Heather has Two Mommies which teaches
about alternative families and Click Clack Moo: Cows Who Type which
teaches young people about unionization. But for the early reading
levels, mostly nonsense or simplistic sentences are used. Could some
form of Freire's codifications be used to teach young children? Could
they be taught to use generative themes in their learning process?

"Through dialogue, the teacher-of-the-students and the
students-of-the-teacher cease to exist and a new term emerges:
teacher-student with students-teachers. The teacher is no longer
merely the-one-who-teaches, but one who is himself taught in dialogue
with the students, who in term while being taught also teach. They
become jointly responsible for a process in which all grow."

Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 67.

This statement seems self-evident in my conception of pedagogy, but it
's amazing how many Computer Science courses I have taken in which the
teacher lectured and students took notes, where the teacher made
assignments and students carried them out, in which the students were
practically afraid to ask questions as the teacher lectured on and on,
indifferent to student comprehension. In one film course that I took,
the teacher would talk non-stop, asking for student questions and then
remembering other points she wanted to make, and would keep talking
until she ran out of things to say and then might take a question or
two. She was very offended when I suggested she might stop and ask
the class about pacing, and eventually I sought the disability
resource center and asked for permission to take extra breaks during
class since I would get too overwhelmed during lectures. So perhaps
Freire's conceptions of education and the
teacher-student/student-teacher relationship are not self-evident.
But they are essential to a critical pedagogy, or even an effective
pedagogy. It's a necessary, but not sufficient condition to critical
12 October 2006 @ 03:25 am
phil_of_ed it is.  I wrote up a blurb about philosophy of education and included educational psychology and pedagogy, so check it out and suggest any changes before things start rolling ...
11 October 2006 @ 02:31 pm
I realize[info]voyager640 just started this community but I already believe [info]crit_ped's description and interests are too narrow for long-term survival.  I expect [info]crit_ped to be defunt in the near-term because critical pedagogy is a narrow branch in philosophies of education and pedagogues.  Instead of merely bashing something new I propose a compromise that broadens our interest in critical pedagogy by starting a community of educators interested in philosophy and a general membership interested in alternative pedagogies, such as critical pedagogy.  We could call it phil_of_ed, or we could "buy out" the defunt member called [info]pedagogy; something to encompass this community's narrow interests with broader criticism of education.   My expectation that this community cannot survive for long on LJ is based on observing [info]phil_of_mind and [info]phil_of_science infrequent and unlively discussion despite both being narrow subjects within philosophy yet broader than critical pedagogy.  Could we expect a better chance that a community about philosophies of education and pedagogues will survive versus a community about one kind of pedagogy?
10 October 2006 @ 05:58 pm
* Philosophy of Education *

Note: astericks are token wildcards in the italicized title of any book. :)
10 October 2006 @ 12:13 pm
I believe the following is relevant to an understanding of the critical pedagogy as education currently seems to operate under all of the above areas. Teachers are to have expertise, manage knowledge and its transfer in the classroom, and must operate with authority or some semblence of it. Also, from a strictly philsophical standpoint the epistemological question of knowlege must be known in the context of how knowledge is used, transferred, and managed in society. As a concrete example I have included a link and copied text from an article which is concerned with modern expertise and the building of sources of knowledge, in this case wiki-esque sources as opposed to say encyclopedias or the libraries of institutions of learning.

Citizendium and the Problem of Expertise

The interesting thing about Citizendium, Larry Sanger’s proposed fork of Wikipedia designed to add expert review, is how consistent Sanger has been about his beliefs over the last 5 years. I’ve been reviewing the literature from the dawn of Wikipedia, born from the failure of the process-laden and expert-driven Nupedia, and from then to now, Sanger’s published opinions seem based on three beliefs:

1. Experts are a special category of people, who can be readily recognized within their domains of expertise.
2. A process of open creation in which experts are deferred to as of right will be superior to one in which they are given no special treatment.
3. Once experts are identified, that deference will mainly be a product of moral suasion, and the only place authority will need to intrude are edge cases.

All three beliefs are false.

There are a number of structural issues with Citizendium, many related to the question of motivation on the part of the putative editors; these will probably prove quickly fatal. More interesting to me, though, is is the worldview behind Sanger’s attitude towards expertise, and why it is a bad fit for this kind of work. Reading the Citizendium manifesto, two things jump out: his faith in experts as a robust and largely context-free category of people, and his belief that authority can exist largely free of expensive enforcement. Sanger wants to believe that expertise can survive just fine outside institutional frameworks, and that Wikipedia is the anomaly. It can’t, and it isn’t.

Basically for authority to work it 1) has to look arbitrary or 2) spend time it doesn't have to "get to know" its subjects. Both of these problems are "solved" in a certain sense by beauracracy as it affords to codify rules and regulations within a public heirarchy and afford access and response along a spectrum. For the teacher and for a critical pedagogy then it is not necessary that both ends of the communicative effort to transfer knowledge be interested in the same things. If I teach math, I want to transfer math knowledge but I likely need to learn how this is best done for each individual student in some way. The modern teacher, in seeing the trend to mainstreaming the exceptional student faces this more than ever. This is how we equilibrilize a situation that is at base unequilibrated. The teacher knows, and is the expert, but by an enagement of dialog where each participant gains still some knowledge, even if dissimilar, we hope to alleviate problems of abuses of power and a critical but unenlightening silence. Also, by the act of interest by the authority, by the teacher, by use of the question in regards to the student, the relationship is transformed from that of dominating teacher to subordinate student to that of a pair of teacher/learners building knowledge in a social fashion. The teacher knows more of the student and the student knows more of the subject.

There is another point stemming from a line of thought that goes back to Vygotsky and Russian Activity Theory about knowledge and information management which affords to try and bridge between the more overt and covert aspects of knowedge in the individual and society. That there needs to be an organizational move to be intent on sharing certain knowledges which those with more experience have, and those with less lack. Many businesses have specific positions for such knowledge management, indeed they cannot afford to not have the most members know the "tricks of the trade", which experience often brings but which may not be overtly distributed without a certain insight. Thus they hire a knowledge management specialist to find useful covert knowledges and make them exoteric to those members of the group which might need and make use of such knowledges.

(It must be noted the following paragraph was made in reference to the philosophy forum where this post was initially placed but later deleted)

There were certain theorists (namely Illich but to a lesser extent Freire I believe) who though the internet and such forums as this one would afford a great teaching/learning experience. But what do we get? Ignorance is bashed. A lack of imagination is shown across the diversity of learners. And beware anyone who'd come looking for some help or guidence towards their greater body of work. "Do your own homework!" is the reply, and in fact there is a whole group whose efforts are to throw such efforts off course. I must ask how this values knowledge and how is knowledge to be valued if not in transfer?

I also meant to say that a beauracracy also affords the effect of diffusing anger at authority. Since the authority is so "spread out" over a group, and is not enforced by an individual there is a certain protection. The commoners don't usually engage with the higher ups, those with the most vestiges of power. There is also the fact that such structures often are set up so that those up the management chain aren't even functional towards solving the problems that the institution is responsible for, but are only able to respond to internal situations. For the classroom teacher there is always the possibility and actuality of a situation arising where managing a certain student is detrimental to the whole of the classroom endeavour and in this they are most often removed from the classroom and into another area of the educational system and beauracracy. They are sent to the principal and assigned to ISS or some other learning area where problems are monitored more closely and for which there is a further step of punitive action and/or counseling. Haveing seen these situations, in most cases the outcome is not what we might like in that the communicative effort is even more limited. There are some new forms, often technological ones which seek to elimate this. At the local school the At Risk program is run in a computer center where the students form an engagement with knowledge by computer and the problem of authority as seen as beheld in a living breathing individual is diffused again somewhat as well as engagement being elevated.

The end is that this forum and others like it often have neither a plan nor the overhead of organization to service the public interest in knowledge tansfer like it might. Ignorance is not seen as an opportunity to expand and strengthen the community of the knowledgeable by engagement and a plan for it. No, the general rule is a disdain shown as combative aggression. Character assasination or the baculum ad delete as a tool to have the final voice with neither any awareness that a final voice would lead to silence, nor that it lacks any sympathy for the assassins or censors own history. Who was not ignorant?

Teaching is an art, and a demanding and imaginative one. Politics as derogatory sloganeering is easy, and for the lazy mind.
10 October 2006 @ 01:02 am
Is there a relation at all to critical pedagogy and a student movement ("student power")?

I'm doing a lot of thinking about perspectives on the social role of schools and students, I recently picked up Ivan Illich's Deschooling Society and Chomsky's Chomsky on Miseducation, because I thought they might help me get further into this topic. Any other reccomendations?

Further, I'm wondering if anybody knows of any good books on the practice of critical pedagogy, I read Pedagogy of the Oppressed which I want to re-read soon and also Educating for Critical Consciousness but I'm still confussed about how a teacher, today, in American public schools, could put this pedagogy to work. Obviously the "teacher" is much more like facilitator than what we think of "teachers" today but I'm just ... totally at a loss for how one actually practices critical pedagogy, or what "critical consciousness" is exactly.

This is all very new to me, so excuse me if this all comes off a bit ignorant.
09 October 2006 @ 04:35 am
So admittedly, I don't know crap about critical pedagogy, though I am interested in unschooling and such. I started reading the wikipedia article on the topic, and it immediately struck me as ironic. Something about students being led by the teacher to question authority. Anyone else find that weird?