Critical Pedagogy.

Shelli Fowler’s  “Paulo Freire and Critical Pedagogy” had an opening quote that immediately grabbed my attention. It stated,  “Education can function to control and contain students and maintain the status quo . . .Or, it empowers students to be critically engaged and active participants in society”.  Might I add I must admit that I am enjoying these sociological-based readings and topics, now that I have some time to reflect pedagogy and interaction between students and instructors are sociological situations. Especially if the goal is to create an environment where you want the student is able to gain and absorb as much knowledge as possible. This invites my next thought as Fowler’s also discussed critical consciousness, Fowler states that “The formation of a critical consciousness (which allows students to question the nature of their historical and social situation and to effect change in their society)”. Helping students develop and critical conscious also reminds me of another teaching strategy that I watched an instructor use heavily during a graduate teaching assistantship I had here at Tech. It is called Inquiry based learning, or Inquiring By Design, it is basically the practice of instructors leading students with questions and also answering with questions so the students are learning through experience and answering their own questions and teaching their selves for a greater educational experience. The idea of teaching and communicating with students and not at students is also a  component and take away from this teaching strategy. It is also a student-centered teaching strategy. Social sciences use alot of critical pedagogy techniques to teach and create a learning environment and beneficial discussions for students. I see critical pedagogy and critical consciousness overlapping, as far as fostering the idea of “raising awareness of critical issues in society (e.g., environment), and encourage students’sense of themselves as active agents with the ability to shape the world in which they live”. That is the thing i enjoy about sociology is that everyone “studies” or encounters sociology on a daily basis and it can be taught and understood a million different ways.  As I was anxious about having to teach something that is so routine is that everyone has different experiences and perspectives that everyone can learn from -such an interdisciplinary subject, I am grateful that this class is laying a great foundation for my future pedagogical ideas

Hidden Brain

As a social scientist I appreciated this week’s readings. Shankar Vendantam, The Hidden Brain -which discussed the brain on “autopilot” and  children’s absorption through cultural upbringing associations of faces really struct me. the author states that, “hidden associations” of that essentially determine what happens in the unconscious minds of these children. “Our hidden brains will always recognize people’s races, and they will do so from a very, very young age,” Vedantam says. “The far better approach is to put race on the table, to ask [children] to unpack the associations that they are learning, to help us shape those associations in more effective ways.” The author also speaks to the fact of the “colorblindness” issue of the U.S. (it would be nice if everyone were colorblind but in all reality we are not)

I appreciated reading this document as I have yet to teach and being an instructor in Sociology I have been anxious in thinking how I would discuss and instruct topics of race and race related issues to students that already have a positionality. I have been anxious about how I would  introduce “uncomfortable” conversations to students but still constructing an environment of respect of peer option. The author lightly mentions about how to “take back the controls” of our unconscious thoughts but does not go into detail about how to do so -the only critique that I have about this piece but otherwise it is useful to read insight to how our conscious and unconscious mind works. The author states that we us our unconsciousness/ “hidden brain” more often than we may realize.

Diversity enhances creativity. To me that is a clear statement. The fact that there are structure issues in society that is not inclusive and pushes a homogeneous group up in society while leaving others behind in problematic. The fact there is a “Inclusive VT” program in 2017 worries me a little (even though it is a great program and I appreciate the call for inclusion) these efforts should have been put into the making along time ago. “If we are to change, grow and innovate as quoted from Katherine W. Phillips, “How Diversity Makes us Smarter”. The discussion of safe spaces was also a topic in this week’s readings, speaking from my perspective and my identity in society there are a lack of safe space to have conversations in relation to race and social justice, in academia that is another story. As an instructor my hopes are to create a space space for my students especially with having to instruct course that directly deal with these issues. Would that space provide students with enough comfortableness for them to share the thoughts in their hidden brain? Would that be necessary for students in order the feel included and heard (as we all have had different experiences)? These questions maybe answered in different way or not at all, however as I am a still in the learning process I do hope that I learn how to construct a conducive classroom environment for all my students to be able to think like a sociologist.