Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

The Joys and Pains of Critical Pedagogy #moocmooc

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So let me reiterate how excited I am about this #moocmooc about critical pedagogy via Hybrid Pedagogy – here’s the original announcement, and here is the week-by-week prelim plan. Each week will be co-facilitated by a different pair of people, with a different theme and readings and activities. Pick and choose as you please 🙂 I’m really privileged to be co-facilitating the second week with one of my favorite critical pedagogues, Jesse Stommel, and we’re focusing on feminist perspectives (enjoy a bell hooks reading and Anita Sarkeesian videos and we’ll announce the activities in about a week from today).

For me, critical pedagogy is both painful and a joy (not the #moocmooc, the #moocmooc is all a joy hehe). It’s painful because to practice it, the consciousness-raising process is difficult and painful as you uncover oppression you had previously been burying or unaware of… that is done unto you, and (even worse) that you may be doing to others unconsciously; and because once you begin looking at the world this way, you cannot go back. I used to think there was a systematic way of going about this but there isn’t…it just sort of grows on you 🙂 It’s painful also because you start to empathize so much more strongly with the suffering of others, because you can see it more clearly.

And yet it is a joy. First, the joy in being able to see this deeper layer of subjective reality, painful and ugly as it often is; it’s like a blindfold has been removed from in front of your eyes. But also because in seeing it, you feel more empowered to change it – knowledge is not enough, it’s not critical pedagogy if it does not lead to reflective action (praxis). And then the absolute and utter joy of having that kind of goal in your teaching… it makes the process of teaching that much more rewarding, meaningful, as a way to be in the world. It was not easy for me at first (years ago when I started reading him while working on my PhD on critical thinking – and if you’d like a comparison between critical thinking and critical pedagogy, this by Burbules and Berk is a good start, if a little simplistic)  understanding exactly what it is Freire is talking about. I got the essence of what he meant but was unsure how to apply it in my own practice, but I’m finding my way as I’ve described recently.

In Sean Michael Morris’ first week discussion prompt he says something that really struck me and resonated deeply, and which bell hooks agrees with:

“Critical pedagogues can sometimes be the worst kind of tellers (pun intended)”

(in case  you missed the pun, “tellers” can refer to bank tellers, as in banking education, which Freire contrasts with critical pedagogy; but also tellers as in they tell more than they do, all words, no action).

The overarching question is:

“Do we practice critical pedagogy when talking about pedagogy?”

If you’re interested in joining the first twitter chat, it’s scheduled for January 21 at 5:00 PM EST  using #MOOCMOOC. Check out worldtimebuddy.com to see when to join us in your time zone.

I’m copying below the questions from Sean’s post that will guide that discussion:

  • Is the primary effort of education bent toward the humanization of its participants (learners and educators alike)? If it is not, should it be? What does humanization look like as curricula, as syllabi, as lesson plan?

  • If it is not our task to “make deposits” into students’ minds, to reinforce learner passivity, but rather to spark inquiry, where is the best place to start?
  • How are we teaching, really, and how are we relating to the world, really? Do we walk the walk we want to walk, the walk we say we walk?
  • If, as Freire points out, the “teacher’s thinking is authenticated only by the authenticity of the students’ thinking” (58), what process might we follow to foster authentic thinking — in the classroom as much as in professional spaces?

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