Critical Pedagogy and Disney

Kincheloe. Freire. Hooks. These three educators, students, facilitators, trailblazers, and HUMANS have been extremely influential in the growing field/ideology/movement of “critical pedagogy.” So, what is critical pedagogy? Countless definitions abound, but our group thought critically and worked collaboratively to create this definition: 

“Critical pedagogy is a humanistic, interactive process that challenges hierarchical systems of learning, and establishes the co-construction of knowledge in collaboration with educator (facilitator) and student.”     

 ~Arash Sarshar, Erin Heller, Sogand Mohammadhasanzadeh, Patrick Salmons, Hana Lee, Jyotsana Sharma, and Selva Marroquín, 2018 ~

So how did we get to this definition (Mulan – “Let’s get down to business)? We can’t take full credit for it of course (and when you think about it, can we ever take full credit for anything we create, as our thoughts are the culmination of countless interactions and experiences obtained through interactions with countless of the other people … but that is another blog), as we used the expertise and thoughts of the above three stated pedagogical sensai. Their writings all shared common themes of the importance of less clear boundaries between students and teachers (or the elimination of these boundaries all together) … teachers are students and students are teachers … and the importance of teaching should not be merely the transfer of knowledge but the sharing of concepts and the encouragement to think for oneself (remember everyone always says “think outside of the box!”) The idea that ritualistic memorization and regurgitation of facts is not truly learning and that we need to shift away from this outdated approach to “judging” the intellect of students. We need to encourage students to think about things that are not explicitly taught, to think about things never thought about (or verbalized) before, and to not just judge others on their ability to retell what has already be told. School should not be about Beauty and the Beast — that is “tale as old as time.” New ideas, concepts, and theories are the core of growing, developing, and learning. If students only learn what they are told, everything remains stagnant. That brings us full circle (Lion King – “The circle of life!!”) to define the different aspects of our definition of critical pedagogy:

Humanistic: the ability to be human and be vulnerable with students. As an educator being able to convey that one is not necessarily an expert and that knowledge is not an absolute but co-constructed by all the individuals in the classroom environment.

Interactive process that challenges hierarchical systems of learning: it emerged from the necessity of continuing to create an atmosphere of democracy in education because education follows political structures.

Co-construction of knowledge in collaboration with educator and studentWhen thinking about teaching and learning, it should not be understood as a simple student-teacher relationship. Rather what these readings demonstrate, and our own anecdotal teaching experience illuminates, is that there should not be an oppressive figure teaching what should be learned. Thinking about knowledge and its construction between multiple variables allows for diversity, opinion, and actual critical thinking. Opening up the conversation in a Hegelian fashion allows for facilitation by the educator.

Okie. That’s all we got. Education should be like acapella singers — the culmination of ALL of our voices (thoughts) is what makes us great. Drop the mic.

Related image

4 Replies to “Critical Pedagogy and Disney”

  1. I like the definition you all gave, because it was succinct and digestible. I still have a hard time wrapping up the definition of critical pedagogy into something so compact (I would probably start going off on details too quickly…), so kudos to you all! I also love the connections to Disney quotes, that’s one lovely way to think outside the box :).

  2. I really love your definition of critical pedagogy and the breakdown of all the little pieces involved. I especially like the humanistic component that reminds us we need to vulnerable in the classroom. I’m definitely going to keep this in mind.

  3. I also really liked your definition and I really appreciated how you then elaborated on each of the elements in your definition! When you read your definition in class, I kept thinking what a great definition it was and how it incorporated so many different elements! So I enjoyed getting a more detailed description. And I loved the Disney ties!

  4. Erin, great job in defining critical pedagogy and presenting aspects of this system. I am in total agreement that the professor should not be the only presenter of information as we can all learn so much more in an open environment of shared knowledge. Great use of intermixed Disney quotes and the analogy of the a cappella singers as an educational system. To quote “That Thing You Do” – it’s like a stew. All the ingredients have to come together or it’s just soup. Thanks for the great post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *