This post is collective effort on behalf of Corrie Besse, Matt Blair, Minh Duong, Kyunghee Kim, Cindy Klimaitis, and Samuel Sherry
Critical pedagogy is a life-long, balanced, and transformative approach to teaching that nurtures understanding by integrating one’s passions with curiosity in an ever evolving, and challenging environment – both in the context of what is being taught, where it comes from, and how it is applied.
Above is our attempt at defining the undefinable. To us, critical pedagogy is our definition, and can be seen in the interplay between the words in our word cloud, but we also acknowledge that in actuality it is much more. We believe that fundamentally, critical pedagogy resides in the intersection of theory and practice and finds meaning in creating an environment that promotes understanding in education. Paulo’s assertion that you cannot teach without learning nor learn without teaching resonates with our understanding of critical pedagogy, in that we (as people, educators, learners, experts, novices) never stop learning or having things to teach and offer. Fostering a growth mindset is a facet of life-long learning, not only do we want to cultivate our students to remain open to the power of possibility, we as educators must also remain steadfast in always looking for ways in which we can be learning.
The fluidity of critical pedagogy, and its ubiquitous nature in our daily lives, contributes to the difficulty in defining it. We view its application as ever evolving to meet the needs of a changing and developing environment – whether in society, the classroom, the home, or the overarching framework of education. Here we believe that the ability to challenge – our ideas, conventions, paths of communicates, and structure for disseminating knowledge – can lead to a situation that fosters curiosity in our passions and lead to student driven learning.
The question is how? How can or does critical pedagogy manifest itself in our studies, classrooms, and professions? How do we transform the intellectually stifling practices engrained in education into something much more effective and inclusive? To explore this concept further we looked at ways critical pedagogy manifests itself in our fields of practice.
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Cindy
The components of the critical pedagogy definition have direct application to my field. As a future ‘teacher of teachers” the life-long learner component applies to the research part of the position. Educators need to stay up to date on the latest research to know implementation of best practices and current social justices issues that need to be considered in the classroom environment.
Knowing the students will help the professor with a balance of giving and getting – how much students need to get (build a knowledge base) and how much giving (giving time for students’ curiosity to allow for their own knowledge search). The key to critical pedagogy is balance and that balance is based on the individual in the classroom. Balance is fluid and ever changing.
The 1st minute provides a visual for how working together benefits the group and each individual, just click on the image to view.
Food Science & Technology, Minh
This week we discussed this week two extremes of how teaching can be accomplished: were “problem-posing” and “banking”. With banking, the student simply draws upon what is required by the teacher where usually the teacher provide information for students to consume and this information becomes regurgitated at the appropriate time (very similar to this Calvin and Hobbes comic below — excuse the potato quality.)
Problem-posing is sort of the opposite side of that spectrum that emphasizes critical thinking that involves listening, dialogue, and action through a positive learning atmosphere. A very well known example of this atmosphere is the Montessori method.
Food Science and Technology (FST) leans on the “banking” side of things currently, but needs to transition and move towards more of the problem posing mindset. Learning the information on a specific microorganism and its characteristics that cause foodborne illness is useful, but understanding the system and how the microorganism fits into that system is important.
We do a great job in Food Science of addressing the “what”, “who”, and “when”, all specific details, but struggle with the “why” and the “how”. As an educator in Food Science, I endeavor to bring in learning and teaching that involves experiences that help students think outside-the-box and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the “why” and “how”.
Engineering, Samuel & Matt
When I think of critical pedagogy in the field of engineering I think of the sharing my love/passion for the subject and a Socratic approach to learning. If you present your passion for a subject this shows in a big way, it makes the students more excited/ peaks their interest about the material. In my mind this sets the wheels in motion, from the small material I covered, to the student/class probing larger topics. Ideally this could be done in the class room with me facilitating or individually when they want to go above and beyond the basics. The concept of critical thinking and asking why are the principles upon which engineering were built on. I hope this approach to teaching fosters a love of life-long learning and critical thinking.
Landscape Architecture, Kyunghee
I believe the core value of critical pedagogy is applicable in the field of landscape architecture as engagement and sustainability have been big words in the education and practice of landscape architecture. From the perspective of critical pedagogy, educators are responsible to engage in social, environmental, and political issues around the built and natural environments, and empower communities as well as students to be an agent of creating, implementing and operating their living spaces. Many students in the design field tend to focus on aesthetic/functional aspects, not being interested in social and environmental issues much, as I did when I was in undergraduate. I think that in order to prepare students to be a critically conscious landscape designer/planner it might be important for educators to closely engage in their needs/situation and inspire them to transform their motivations for social/environmental justice and ethics.
Arts Leadership, Corrie
As leaders in the arts we need to have an understanding of not only ourselves, but also how we present ourselves to others. In a critical pedagogical context, it’s important that as we move forward that there must be a sense of balance between these inner and exterior frameworks of self. When we lose sight of one over another, burnout or hollow-out or the loss of creativity can take hold.
Once we have that balance we can contextualize ourselves within a framework of how we connect and create meaningful relationships to our organizations, communities and society. Personally, I strive to provide a platform for the arts to help society see what they might not, to connect them to what is invisible to them in their daily lives. Art does not exist in a vacuum, rather it needs to look critically at the needs and desires of our community in order to make an impact of greater inter-cultural understanding and social responsibility.
As we engage in our respective fields of practice we strive to balance the needs of our classroom and the mindset of our community in order to impact our living spaces, our organizations, and our institutions in order to empower our students to develop their own voices and what impact they want to see valued in the societies of tomorrow. Critical Pedagogy provides a framework for that exploration while remaining cognizant of of our culture and ourselves within it.