Monthly Archives: March 2017

Authoritarian pedagogy

Wikipedia defines authoritarianism as a form of government that is described by strong central power and limited political freedom. According to Freire, in authoritarian pedagogy, teaching was to deposits of information into the minds of the learners, which is similar to deposit money in a bank account or “banking education” and the identity of learners was not taken into account. The situation of learners and teachers is relatively fixed. Power is held by the teachers. The role of learners is to learn what is taught, memorize the information, and can produce the same information on exams. There is little room for deviation or questioning. This model of education places learners into a passive position and the learning process depends upon the teachers. The interests of students as well as the meaning of given information are negligible in authoritarian pedagogy. I read somewhere a nice comparison that learners in authoritarian pedagogy are seen as a blank paper to be written on rather than a book written in invisible ink that just needs the right light shone onto.

Freire argued that the goal of authoritarian pedagogy is to condition learners to accept the cultural, social, political status quo of the dominant culture, to view the practices and behaviors of the dominant groups as complete, whole, and correct, which prevent learners from knowing the world and seeing it as something which can be changed. Therefore, it limits the liberation and freedom of the oppressed.

In my own experiences, I can name some examples of an authoritarian education model. Students from every single school from remote areas to big cities are required to use one set of course books, whose content is pre-prescribed by the ministry of education. There is a fixed schedule (including which class to take, when to take it, how many hours per week) that the ministry of education has designed for students from elementary to colleges. Every student follows the same schedule despite their interests. Teachers often ask students to perform in certain ways (using method A for problem A, do not use method B, even the results are the same) and they might get angry if students do not follow their directions. Grades and punishments are announced publicly not only in schools but also in the students’ living community. When I was a kid, my teachers were my worse fear than my mom.

Review old things with a new eye

Inclusive pedagogy is a huge topic and I am going to reflect some changes during my learning process when my classmates have different background, culture, and point of view and the classroom environment is completely strange. Studying abroad gives me the chance to expose to people I would not otherwise meet and to the culture that I am very unfamiliar to. Especially, it gives me a new look at things that have not been questioned before.

I am adjusting my view about subjects

Before, my classes were divided by two main categories “primary classes” (science classes) and “secondary classes” (social science classes). Therefore, I spent most of the studying time for those science classes (same as other students), which was encouraged by my parents and my schools. Now, I still enjoy math and chemistry classes a lot and they have helped me a lot for other classes as well as my research. But I see two new things. First, I might remember the definition or a chemical formula better than my friends but they seem to know how to apply that piece of information into a real life problem much better than me. Second, my fellows know a lot about history, art, geography, and much more. And they care a lot of current social events that might affect the community. I am so embarrassed to say that I should have known much more about my home history and culture. No class should be classified as “secondary” compared to other classes.    

I am changing my learning habit

In general, I am a product of a passive education system. I was taught in a way that students get all knowledge from teachers, listen to teacher’s lecture as a truth and without questions, take note, memorize information, and reproduce memorized information in exams. Now, I am trying to become an active learner since I am the one who plays the major role in my learning process, instead of the teacher. I have always preferred to study by myself. But this semester, I start trying to study with others in a small group. Beginning feedbacks seem to be positive.  

I have learned some very new concepts. For example,

“Privilege”: for the first time, I understand the meaning of this word and clearly see my privilege in different contexts. I am so surprised that I might not experience the same environment as others. Then I think about my country, yes, I had seen how a city teacher and a countryside teacher received different reactions from students and their parents. Privilege exists in my country too. It just has not been defined in my home or I just do not realize it.     

“Microaggression”: the same word, the same sentence, but for different people, it might have very different meaning. Suddenly, I think about an international instructor or an instructor of a multicultural classroom, who might face microaggression more frequently. Since they are in a powered position, their saying and action might have more effects on students.