Thursday, March 6, 2014

Critical Pedagogy: Asking Why?

Through my postgraduate studies, I have been introduced to the practice of critical pedagogy, as explained in the short video below by the Freire Project.

One cannot watch this video without reflecting on their own practice as a teacher and/or involvement in the world as a global citizen. I ask myself, to what extent do I unthinkingly recapitulate the modern state of society? How do I raise the awareness of my students so that they start asking the questions that are constantly the elephants in the room, yet often ignored in favour of less critical thinking?

Although the title of Freire's book: Pedagogy of the Oppressed, makes me think about the oppression of commonly labelled minority groups (indigenous peoples, etc) as the focus of the work, I realise that all students who do not encounter critical pedagogy throughout their education, who are simply instructed to be functioning parts of society without a critical bone in their body, are who this book is actually targeting.  Just because I teach in a decile ten school on Auckland's fairly wealthy North Shore, it does not mean that I should not be raising critical issues with my students and attempting to elevate their consciousness of the great problems that face them today, and the factors that will perpetuate these problems so that they still dominate the world's social landscape when they are adults themselves.

The more I think about what critical pedagogy is, the more I realise that it was something few of my teachers practised with me. Rather,  I was taught how to get into university so that I could be a contributing member of society, playing my part in it without too much questioning of the status quo. I realise that this was not a necessarily a conscious agenda of my teachers, but rather that few of them knew about critical pedagogy or thought critically about what they were aiming to achieve with their students so that those students could really affect great change in the world. 

Has New Zealand's current education system addressed issues of inequality? Is critical pedagogy considered a crucial pedagogical approach for NZ teachers? 

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