Posts tagged Critical Pedagogy.

Popular Education / Educación Popular


I am only interested in education if it is ‘free’ (meaing democratic, non-hierarchical, and student centred a.k.a. ‘free schools’) or ’popular’ (in this case meaning ‘of the people’ a.k.a. popular education)

Popular Eduacation has 6 key figures.  It is:

1) Rooted in the interests and struggles of ordinary people

2) Overtly political and critical of the status quo

3) Committed to progressive social and political change

4) Based on the concrete experience and material interests of people in communities of resistance and struggle

5) Pedagogically collective, primarily focused on the group 

6) Utilized to forge a direct link between education and social action

That is, as opposed to educational models that:

- perpetuate the status quo

- treat people like blank states where the educator imposes a curriculum based on what they think people should know (or just what’s traditionally been taught)

- don’t value or care about peoples’ personal experiences

 What I’m not yet good enough at

10 Truths About Education in America ›


By the great Alfie Kohn

Reading this now. He’s preachin it: “5. Just because doing x raises standardized test scores doesn’t mean x should be done”

These teachers recognize that education and schooling are not politically neutral. Schools that serve urban youth of color and poor students often do more to reify class and race-based stratification than they do to ameliorate it. Therefore, if schools are going to ever operate in the best interests of disenfranchised urban students, teachers need to engage this community in the process of their own liberation.

Jason Irizarry, “Representin’: Drawing From Hip-Hop and Urban Youth Culture to Inform Teacher Education”


Critical Pedagogy

The field of Critical Pedagogy defies any clear-cut generic definition and is a diverse body of work made up of different theoretical positions with convergences as well as divergences and contradictions.

What these positions have in common are educational theories and practices that aim to open a critical space in which learners and teachers can reflect critically on ideology, power and culture (Leistyna & Woodrum, 1996) which stem from the critical theory of the Frankfurt School.

A useful place to start when considering critical pedagogy is the work of the Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, particularly his works ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ and ‘Education for critical Consciousness’, originally published in Brazil in 1970 and 1974 respectively. Freire’s originality lies in his development of a practical emancipatory pedagogical method designed to liberate subjects from a ’banking’ model of education where education is:

[…] an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositaries and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the ‘’banking’’ concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. (Freire, 1996, p.53)

This authoritarian model of education maintains an oppressive social order through a number of operations enforced by the teacher: students are passive consumers of knowledge passed on by the teacher; the learner is stripped of human agency in that s/he is not treated as a conscious being (‘corpo consciente’); the curriculum is split in an artificial manner and it is the teacher that prepares the content; learners do not ‘’develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves’’ (Freire, 1996, p.64); and finally, the banking authority ‘’sets up house inside of the student’s consciousness, instilling its own policies within the student’s worldview’’ (Bingham, 2002, p.450).


So excited. This looks like a new tumblr about critical pedagogy, I’m drooooling over it.

(via )

Renewing and Reinventing Freire: A Source of Inspiration in Inner-City Youth Education ›

Over the years I have found that engaging inner-city youth in a critical analysis of their lives and the forces that shape and constrain them and their communities, must begin from an awareness of what their lives are like and how they have come to perceive and interpret their social reality. In order to gain this understanding educators must be willing to open themselves to learning about the lives of the students they teach. It is important to recognize that such pedagogical practice must include: 1) an openness to hearing young people share their perceptions of the social reality they inhabit, and 2) a willingness to engage in acts of solidarity in the fight against the oppression they face.

For me, this is more than an academic exercise. The conditions facing many inner-city youth are extreme — homicide rates remain high (in cities like Oakland, Detroit, Baltimore and Washington D.C. they are rising) and incarceration rates for juveniles show no signs of being reduced in the near future (Krisberg). Given the dire circumstances confronting inner-city youth the need to draw upon Freire for a “theory of change” cannot be overstated. There is a crisis facing inner-city youth in the United States, and it is essential that those who would like to do something to address this crisis recognize that no solutions are possible unless young people are active participants in designing and implementing them.

I have a packet of his essays on education, discipline, and race that’s been my bus reading to & from school. This is the gem so far.

Snow day reading

Schools are closed yet again because we had an all-night ice storm. I have had more snow days from work this month than I can remember ever having in 12 years of public school in Chicago. CPS never closes. Fine by me, I have some young adult novels to read for work and some snobby coffee shops to read them at.

Also reading today:

Tons of essays by Pedro Noguera, who writes about antiracism and critical pedagogy

On becoming educated by Joy Castro via larebelde

The newly complicated Zora Neale Hurston via curate (I think?)

Short pieces from a writing workshop my friend did, so that my kids can read work by other kids their own age

Critical literacy and classroom talk ›

Excited about reading this:

On Wednesday, November 5th, I had the opportunity to attend another Teachers College Reading Writing Project professional day – a calendar day with Peter Johnston. His workshop was entitled, “Threads of Learning, Resilience, Community and Comprehension in Classroom Talk.” I connected this workshop to the idea of critical literacy that we discussed in our last class.

We can develop children’s text analyst / critical literacy skills by showing children how to examine the position of each text. One way we can do this is by inviting children to examine everyday texts and pop culture that surround them. Likewise, Peter Johnston’s work invites teachers to take a critical stance when examining their everyday teacher talk/language. Peter Johnston offers teachers ways to change their talk. This change in teacher talk actually can promote children’s critical literacy.

During the calendar day, Peter Johnston investigated classroom talk as a thread woven into every classroom event. First Johnston explored how certain types of talk patterns can rearrange power in classroom. Often classroom talk privileges the teacher-student power hierarchy. Changing the way we interact and speak with students can reposition us as learners alongside our students. Our talk can reposition the children as fellow experts in the classroom.

Peter spoke about how teacher language can promote democracy among students. Peter defined democracy as “people disagreeing in a productive way” and actually using this disagreement to grow learning together. It is important to teach children how to talk and think in this way with one another, helping them consider multiple perspectives. Peter called this “dialogic interactions.”

Whitening Arizona pt. 2

Reading more of the essay I posted clips from earlier:

Teachers need the skills and knowledge to recognize who benefits from racist ideologies, to resist those ideologies, and, if necessary, to act in opposition to them as well as face the risks that come with that opposition. Over the last nine years in teacher education, I have known in my heart that this is the work that needs to be done and have slowly infused my own practice with a more activist-minded approach to working with future educators. This realization took place when I allowed myself to move out of the boundaries of “academic,” which I had been trained to stay within, to a place of being fully human with my students. This includes naming my own privilege, investigating the multiple layers of my identity, and modeling what a teacher/scholar/activist looks and acts like.

Recently, this activist stance has meant situating multicultural education within the context of politics in Arizona.
Many of these actions may not seem connected to teacher education. But I want my students to understand how to contribute to a cause on the grounds set by the group of folks that the cause directly impacts—as opposed to the grounds that my students might think are “right” for that group.
New teachers are overwhelmed by the daunting expectations put on them by the culture of high-stakes testing, on top of the expectations that they will be counselors, psychologists, and parental figures. To ask teachers to now take on the added roles of informed activists, organizers, and resisters might seem outlandish—but when we are under siege, extreme measures are necessary. I argue that we are in that moment. For teachers to successfully create an environment in their classrooms where students feel heard and loved and empowered, regardless of the political climate, this new paradigm in teacher education is critical….For example, I ask my own students to complete social action projects with local organizations so they are pushed to work with folks different from themselves. Whatever the project, my students are put into circumstances where it is apparent that their ideas, biases, and backgrounds are relevant to their work and to the work they will do as teachers.

Can I post this up in the copy room at my school? Is that too passive-aggressive? I think I’m at a point where I can start telling kids about stuff I work on and try to get them involved in similar things. One thing I notice with them nonstop is that they get confused when I tell them that I’m not interested in them snitching on each other to me, but that I’ll help them settle whatever the dispute is. I’ve already told some of them I hate cops and work on stuff against police brutality, so the logical next step in my mind was a stop snitching rule.

Rethinking Schools magazine ›

For anyone else who wants to nerd out on education theory, Rethinking Schools magazine has archives online that you can get limited-time free access to if you give them your email address. I’m going through their archives right now & getting stoked.

The role of the teacher is to promote learning through facilitation, which can aid in the production of knowledge. Helping students understand how they learn helps students indentify their strengths and weaknesses as learners. Through this metacognitive approach to learning, students can also develop new ways to use their strengths in order to improve their weaknesses.

Questions about student-centered learning ›


In a parallel debate regarding lifelong learning. Candy (1994) suggested lifelong learners have, among other things, an ability to inter-relate aspects of knowledge, and a capacity to manage learning. Knowles (1984) outlined elements of learning needed for working with adults which also identified a role for the teacher that focussed on placing students at the centre of learning. Students were to be actively involved and take a high level of personal responsibility in learning. He saw self direction as the keystone to adult learning and argued that the needs and experiences of the learner should take precedence over the expertise of the instructor.

The group decided that they would reorganise the way they taught mathematics, and move towards a student centred model. As they reflected on what to do, a number of significant questions arose:

  1. How is it possible to engage students deeply, working in ways like adult humans learn - multi-sensory, collaborative, solving real problems?
  2. How is it possible to empower students by giving them control and choice?
  3. How can one focus on student needs rather than what one wants to give them?
  4. How is it possible to acknowledge individual differences in students?
  5. How is it possible to identify strengths, weaknesses and prior learning and incorporate these into a course?
  6. How is it possible to work with individual goals and pathways?
  7. How does the teacher find out what the students want to know and how they want to learn it?
  8. How is it possible to assess how well students know these things?
  9. How does one use these answers to develop student learning?

Excerpts from Teaching Community


So, for my “on the side book”, I’m reading Bell Hooks Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope. Here’s some stuff that’ve stood out to me so far:

1. Since well-educated white women with class privilege were uniquely situated to ender the academy via affirmative action policies in far greater numbers than black people, they were in turn able to make affirmative action boost their numbers. As the most immediate beneficiaries of affirmative action, their inclusion served to enhance “white power and privilege” whether they were anti-racist or not. When jobs in the academy, created via the civil rights-inspired affirmative action policies went to white female candidates, white males in power could present themselves as addressing discrimination without really making way for ethnic diversity, or for the inclusion of larger groups of people of color. Feminist women, largely white, who came into the academic workforce in large numbers from the late sixties and on into the eighties, who were radicalized by feminist consciousness raising, challenged patriarchy and really begin to demand changes in curriculum so that it would no longer reflect gender biases. White male academics were far more willing to address gender equality than they were racial equality. 

2. As an insurrection of subjugated knowledges, feminist interventions within the academic world had greater impact than Black Studies because white women could appeal to the larger, white female student population. From the onset Black Studies mainly addressed a student constituency made up of black students; feminist studies from the onset addressed white students. Even though Women’s Studies courses initially attracted mostly white female students, usually those with some degree of radical consciousness, as gender equality became more an accepted norm the feminist classroom has grown larger and has attracted a diverse body of white students and students of color. Significantly, feminist professors, unlike most  non-feminist Black Studies professors, were much more innovative and progressive in their teaching styles. Students often flocked in droves to feminist classrooms because the schooling there was simply more academically compelling. If this had not been the case it would not have become necessary for mainstream conservative white academics, female and male, to launch a backlash that maligned the Woman’s Studies classroom, falsely presenting it as teaching that they did not need to study anything by white males and insisting that students really had to do no work in these classes. By devaluing the feminist classroom they made students feel they would appear academically suspect if they majored in these alternative disciplines. Of coarse, the feminist classroom was a rigorous place of learning, and as a bonus the teaching style in such classrooms was often less conventional. 

3. Conservative manipulation of mass media has successfully encouraged parents and students to fear alternative ways of thinking, to believe that simply taking a Women’s Studies course or an Ethnic Studies course will lead to failure, to not getting a job. These tactics have harmed the movement for progressive education as the practice of freedom, but they have not changed the reality that incredible progress was made. In ‘Teaching Values’ Ron Scapp reminds us: “The antagonism toward and fear of those who ‘question’ had a long (and violent) history That those asking questions today and rejecting the ‘givens’ of our cultural history are seen as pariahs and are under attack should also not be ‘surprising.’ “Scapp calls attention to the fact that the folks who resist progressive education reform “are quick to dismiss or discredit (and sometimes destroy),” but this does not alter the fact that there has been a powerful meaningful insurrection of subjugated knowledges that is liberating and life-sustaining.

Oh this is exciting!! I just started reading her book Teaching to Transgress just this morning! Hell yeah tumblr feminist pedagogy hotness storm!

(via rematiration-deactivated2013111)

More critical pedagogy & student-centered learning articles

In case anyone else is interested in nerding out on this, here’s links to some things I’m reading.

Teaching Research Method Using a Student-Centred Approach? Critical Reflections on Practice

Center for Teaching Excellence: Active Learning Overview

So How Do You Do Critical Pedagogy?

Plus last night I splurged & bought Everyday Antiracism, a book of short essays by teachers (mostly anecdotal, so they’re not too academic & easy enough for me to get through them) about race & class issues as they come in up classrooms. It’s really strategy-oriented, which I’m excited about; every essay ends with discussion questions to think about how to implement those ideas.

Student-centered Learning ›

What I will be reading tomorrow.

Student-centered learning allows students to actively participate in discovery learning processes from an autonomous viewpoint. Students consume the entire class time constructing a new understanding of the material being learned without being passive, but rather proactive. A variety of hands-on activities are administered in order to promote successful learning. Unique, yet distinctive learning styles are encouraged in a student-centred classroom. With the use of valuable learning skills, students are capable of achieving life-long learning goals, which can further enhance student motivation in the classroom. According to Deci and Ryan “The Self-Determination Theory (SDT) focuses on the degree to which an individual’s behavior is self-motivated and self-determined.” Therefore, when students are given the opportunity to gauge his or her learning, learning becomes an incentive. Because learning can be seen as a form of personal growth, students are encouraged to utilize self-regulation practices in order to reflect on his or her work. For that reason, learning can also be constructive in the sense that the student is in full control of his or her learning. Over the past few decades, a paradigm shift in curriculum has occurred where the teacher acts as a facilitator in a student-centred classroom.

Such emphasis on learning has enabled students to take a self-directed alternative to learning. In the teacher-centred classroom, teachers are the primary source for knowledge. Therefore, the focus of learning is to gain information as it is proctored to the student. Also, rote learning or memorization of teacher notes or lectures was the norm a few decades ago. On the other hand, student-centred classrooms are now the norm where active learning is strongly encouraged. Students are now researching material pertinent to the success of their academia and knowledge production is seen as a standard. In order for a teacher to veer towards a student-centred classroom, he or she must become aware of the diverse backgrounds of his or her learners.

A critical pedagogue will seek education first by understanding that “authority” has multiple meanings and can be democratically negotiated. First, the teacher “educator” is an authority over his/her subject matter. Second, the teacher “educator” is not the only authority in the classroom. Teachers and students share each other’s knowledge. Learning this way becomes reciprocal and dialogical. That is, teachers learn as well - in particular about student cultures. In other words, students become authorities over their own cultures. As an example, for a white male or female to teach successfully in the inner city, he or she would have to understand and respect the cultural diversity of all students. Third, teachers can use their authority to create relationships that would enhance education - relationships of caring and nurturing - relationships that challenge schooling notions of oppressive race, class and gender stereotypes. Teacher “educators” can be in charge of how students relate to race, class and gender seating arrangements, language construction in the class, and the abolition of stereotypes. These are just a few examples of how under the guise of “authority” schooling authoritarianism can be challenged.

Teachers as “educators” will also use authority to open avenues to negotiate differences. Superseding the schooling aspect of authoritarianism and control, and under this rubric of authority and education, teachers will explore multiple avenues in which authority can be redefined in the name of establishing social relationships that are not only democratic, but life sustaining and possessing the possibility of opening spaces for “authority” in one’s personal and public life. In classrooms, this necessarily means that critical pedagogues interested in “educating” begin to interpret history from multiple ethnic perspectives, allowing literature to take on a life of its own, situated contextually within the life of the student as well as history!

Once again from Critical Pedagogy for Beginning Teachers

What I need to make happen in my classroom. Especially love the part about students being authorities on their lives and perspectives; kids have been surprised when I’ve said that I’m learning alongside them, and that that’s what I love about my job. And that I’m not any smarter than them, I just read a lot & listen & ask questions all the time. I don’t think they’ve had an adult say things like that to them; I don’t think more than a handful of my elders have said that to me either.