Thursday, April 24, 2008

Critical Pedagogy: Ideas


Applying this to . . .
Classroom Management – How the group interacts
This means that management needs to be more democratic. Teachers need to do less “talking to” and engage in fewer power struggles. Instead, they ought to generate discussions and engage in a meaningful dialogue. Rather than seeing a classroom as something to be dominated and tamed, they can create a democratic feel that will allow students to express tehmsevles respectfully.
Example: A student disrupts class and a teacher pulls him or her aside for a conversation about why the student did that and what the student believes about the action.

Teaching Philosophy – Why you teach
Why do students learn? The traditional answer is to prepare students for the workforce. Yet, critical theory rejects that notion as a byproduct of an industrialized, factory-based model. Instead, they see education as something that “humanizes” and helps build “concientousness” (to use Freire’s term.) In low-income settings, teaching should be a means of empowerment and should connect to the community as a whole.
Example: A teacher would encourage students to create their own philosophies of education. A class might work collaboratively on a class purpose statement.

Assessment – How you know student’s learn
The only way to assess knowledge is to see life change. Rather than using standardized tests, or even letter grades, critical pedagogy advocates alternative modes of assessment. Even the rubric is seen as an artificial construct. Therefore, the only way to see if students have learned is to evaluate how a student has applied that knowledge to life as a whole. Often, this leads to a certain social activism that is absent in traditional education. Criticis point out how subjective this can be. It can seem to miss the rigour of an academic assessment. Yet, proponents of these alternative methods point out that it is more authentic to life. Many proponents of critical pedagogy also believe in the notion of differentiated instruction so that students are more active in the learning process.
Example: A class goes on a service learning project and has a reflective dialogue when the project ends. This would then lead into a letter writing campaign and a protest.

Instruction – How you teach
In terms of instruction, critical pedagogy offers very few practical applications. For the most part, they advocate a constructivist style of education. Students are encouraged to challenge theories and ideas that are dominant in society. In a math or science class, this means that students engage in dialogue and test hypotheses. In social sciences and language arts, they study the relationship between power, culture and beliefs. There is a blending of subjects in critical pedagogy which also has a constructivist bent. Students are encouraged to connect knowledge from one subject area to another.
Example: A class has a debate about the role of the media in politics. They might read various textbooks or state standards and analyze them for bias, then contact those in power to share their findings.

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