Teachers and Learners – Critical Pedagogy

So many topics covered in the reading this week from Freire and hooks.  Some interesting ideas and concepts.  One that stood out to me was the concept of teachers as learners.  This is something I’ve thought a lot about during my time teaching.  We focus a lot on helping students to develop open minds and to think critically but we don’t talk as often about how to help teachers keep and open mind.  We often fall into the “banking concept” discussed by Freire where teachers are simply trying to fill the minds of students like an empty receptacle rather than actually teaching them.  Teachers can fall into the trap of thinking they know everything because that’s kind of how the banking concept is set up.  This ends up restricting learning and discouraging critical thinking because analytical questions from students are seen as a challenge to a teacher’s authority and traditional pedagogy.  Or they can be viewed as distractions from the syllabus that the teacher has worked so hard to stick to.  As teachers, we need to work to overcome that mentality.  As we view ourselves as facilitators of learning rather than just someone filling a bucket with facts, I think we open ourselves and our students to more meaningful learning experiences.  And a more enjoyable experience as well.

I have been amazed at how many times I’ve been explaining a concept to someone, even a concept that I’m pretty familiar with, when suddenly a lightbulb goes off and I understand something totally new about the concept.  Sometimes that’s triggered by a question from the person I’m teaching and sometimes it’s simply triggered by the process of explaining what I think I know to someone else and having to vocalize those thoughts.  Either way, I find it incredible how much we can learn while teaching.  This is why group work and group discussions are so useful.  I have been impressed by professors who have been willing to learn while they teach.  We’ll be having discussion in class and someone will pose a question that they may not know the answer to.  Rather than taking this as a challenge to their authority, we have been able to turn these questions into interesting discussions and learn together.  Seeing a professor be open to questions and discussion, I believe, encourages students to engage and think critically and to become more involved in the learning process.  Perhaps we can do a better job encouraging our students to be teachers and our teachers to be learners and maybe we’ll all learn something from each other.


9 Replies to “Teachers and Learners – Critical Pedagogy”

  1. Thank you for your post! I definitely agree what you mentioned throughout your post. It’s is the big challenge for all of us, to view ourselves as facilitators of learning, also to challenges hierarchical systems of learning. But we have to keep challenging ourself. I think that the banking model is what I’m used to, and I believe it is still a dominant educational system today. I believe that we, as a new generation of teacher, need to act as an intermediary as well, to make balance between past and future generations in order to move forward to the better educational environment.

  2. Thanks for your post. I totally agree that we (as future teachers) need to be open minded and develop critical thinking. I have experienced similar situations when I suddenly understood something while I was explaining it to a student, or answering his/her question. So, it is important to encourage our teachers to be learners.

  3. I really enjoyed your post! The idea of teachers as learners has always stood out to me as well. And it can be a hard thing to do (I am reflecting on my experiences as an instructor), but it is so valuable! One thing that I really appreciate about staying connected to the GEDI class is that I continue to learn each semester. I appreciate getting to hear new perspectives and learn from those taking the class. Thanks for the post!

  4. I will add to your comments about “how much we can learn while teaching.” I found a reference to the Protégé Effect, which addresses “Why teaching someone else is the best way to learn” (Paul, 2011). Researchers found that “Students enlisted to tutor others,” “work harder to understand the material, recall it more accurately and apply it more effectively” (Paul, 2011). I believe the Protégé Effect also applies to professors teaching college students.
    Paul, A.M. (2011, November). The Protégé Effect: Why teaching someone else is the best way to learn. TIME. Retrieved from http://ideas.time.com/2011/11/30/the-protege-effect/

  5. In addition to being open to learning while teaching, a related concept I feel is very important as an instructor is to be open and honest about what you DON’T know. For the past few years, I have told each of my classes that while I know a fair amount about several topics related to the course, I don’t know everything. It’s just not possible. I start the course this way, then reiterate it when I am asked a question I really don’t know the answer to. I then pose the question back to the class, prompt them to research, or research myself and bring the information back to the class. I am fully aware that some students might find this off-putting, and make assumptions about my competency as a teacher given my age and gender (which unfortunately is a reality). However, I know that I am modeling critical thinking skills in this process and that some students will pick up on this. At the end of the day, it certainly humanizes me to the students and perhaps gets them more actively engaged in their learning.

    1. You make good point in this comment about bias against teachers who are more open to discussions or show their vulnerabilities more often. There is definitely a great deal of judgement against educators that are not middle aged ( too young or too old ), or people who do not answer questions in raid-fire mode.

  6. Thanks for the post. Yes, I think you are right because it is easy to fall that trap to educators. Even if everybody knows that the critical pedagogy is more beneficial for students, still it might be hard to apply this concept to the class sometimes. Also, people’s expectations also on that direction and most people think that teachers’ role in a class is being an authority and their duties are only giving the required information to students. but the right way is always knowing that the learning process never ends and we can never know who will teach us or where. In other words, regardless of the roles, teacher or student, a classroom is a learning environment and everybody can learn something new if we can create a suitable environment/concept as you said.

  7. I agree with your statement of us being facilitators of learning rather than just telling people what they need to know. I asked the same question last week during our discussion. Why we have to be called professors, when maybe we should just be facilitators? Are we supposed to be up in front of a group as the preacher of knowledge? Or are we supposed to be facilitating conversation?

  8. I agree that educators and teachers are learners. In my opinion, students are educators as much as teachers. Often professors ask for feedback from students without listening or really caring. Education is a collaborative effort and should be facilitated that way.

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