Reflection on Critical Pedagogy

The readings for this week’s topic made me think deeply about the teaching journey, particularly about it being a choice of how we carry our teaching practices. When we choose democratic, open-minded practices, there is always a risk involved. I reflected on the acceptance of students evaluation and how I think I should be committed to using it to improve myself, however, without obsessing over it. I like this quote from Paulo Freire’s “Teaching is a human act”:

After all, our teaching space is a text that has to be constantly read, interpreted, written and re-written.

Who you are becoming compared to who you seem to be is a key balancing act. It is extremely important to develop inner sense of security, that sense doesn’t mean that I will have all the answers, but it comes from knowing what I know and what I don’t know. This inner security will allow me as a teacher to be open with my students which inevitably is a source of risk that one takes when teaching with an open-minded and democratic approach as mentioned above.

Some of the important aspects of the teaching-learning dynamics that cannot be separated include: the respect for the teacher and respect for students, authority and freedom, knowledge and not knowing the answers to all questions, teaching and learning. The last point is extremely important and beautifully described in the “Banking Concept of Education” piece by Freire as reconciling the student-teacher contradiction by both being students and teachers at the same time.

I think that I am going to hold on to these concepts to use them to inform my teaching process in the future as I do the best I can to be the best teacher I can!

9 thoughts on “Reflection on Critical Pedagogy

  1. Indeed, students evaluations are always a bit scary. But as you mentioned, it is a key opportunity to apply critical pedagogy in our practice. I have been surprised time and time again in how insightful these evaluations are! At the end, our students should be treated as humans (another key concept related to critical pedagogy), and one of the ways we can do this is by listening to them and reflecting on their feedback!

  2. A risk indeed, but one that isn’t without reward! I like your comment about knowing what you know and knowing what you don’t. Acknowledging that you don’t know everything and have space to learn/grow can definitely be a humbling experience but one that will ultimately be beneficial for both us and our students.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Emma! Absolutely, giving students a voice in the classroom is very beneficial for both teachers and students. I also think it goes a long way to make us better teachers.

  3. Thanks Sam for your thoughts in critical pedagogy. Reading about critical pedagogy makes me think seriously about my practice as a teacher. I realized that teaching does not consist of communicating the body of knowledge only, but it is a complex act that encompasses several dimensions, including knowledge production, student’s encouragement and several concepts that should get included in the classroom. But how to achieve such a challenge? It sounds like a difficult task. I agree with you that some such practices in critical pedagogy involved some sort of risk. I think keeping a balance and following critical pedagogy practices as a guide within the classroom context could be beneficial.

  4. I agree that there is a delicate balance between our current selves and future selves. How do we know that we are “becoming” or that we have “become”? I think being critically reflexive is necessary to hold ourselves accountable to our pedagogical values, which should include how we’re balancing our teacher-student dynamic. We can easily forget that teachers and students learn from each other.

  5. Your comments make me think of the quote that’s along the lines of “The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” In the outside world, this shows itself as people who are less educated tend to overestimate their knowledge, while those who are more educated tend to underestimate themselves. It reminds me of the importance of humility in everything we do, especially teaching.

  6. Sam, thank you for providing such a great response to the readings for this week. I agree that genuine and honest feedback with students regarding your knowledge of the subject is important in addition to accepting that it is not possible to know EVERYTHING about all subjects. When teachers show that they are human and sometimes are not 100% sure about an answer or perspective, it allows students to see them as learners just like themselves and can even allow for more collaborative discovery between both the student and the teacher. As a public speaking teacher, I always try to help reassure my students that everyone makes public speaking mistakes, including myself, which hopefully creates important mutual respect for all!

  7. Along with the other commenters, I appreciate your addressing of the risk involved in maintaining an open, democratic environment. When you allow for input from others outside of yourself, you’re giving up control. Giving up control leads to vulnerability, and that’s in front of a group of 10/50/200 students. That can be terrifying! But doing as you said and simultaneously maintaining a respectful environment means you can reap the rewards without suffering unintended consequences. We just have to push past the fear. Great post!

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