how to make changes constructively?— A reflection of critical pedagogy and the issue of Dr. Coward in Berkeley.  

 

First thing first, I totally agree with the reading this week about critical pedagogy. We all, sometimes, went through the terrible banking learning mechanism. The classroom is boring. The lecturer is the best hypnotist. The final exam is really a painful but relieving time. The painful part comes from the fact that I have to memorize things for the test. The relieve part comes from the fact it is finally over. Wait, it is over for this one, for sure. But how about next semester? How can we make sure there is no such professor later? And also, how about our younger cohort? How to make sure they don’t have to suffer the previous boring professor again?

 

Surly, we want to and need to change the status quo. But, how?  Paulo Freire mentioned about an educational movement to change from banking education to critical pedagogy, but I failed to find any suggestion about how to change. Whenever there is a movement, there are people, particularly those in power, don’t want to move. The recent issue of Dr. Coward in Berkeley indicates it is not each to make a change. Dr. Coward is losing his job of teaching in Math Department because he is doing great in teaching (see more detail here[1] also you can find Dr. Coward’s personal blog here [2]). Too good to make others look bad. He wins students’ hearts by inspiring teaching instead of banking teaching. But the department may refuse o renew his contract when he failed to follow the suggestion of “adjust to the norms of the department” (the finally decision will be made on October 20th, 2015).

 

Doing a better job in critical and inspiring teaching is not easy itself. But here is another layer of difficulty from your colleague and coworker, who don’t want to move, don’t want to change. This seems even harder. Paulo Freire talked about “teaching of the oppressed”, here allow me abuse the word “oppressed” a little bit. We know wherever there is oppression there is resistance. We certainly don’t want to oppress our students, but we also don’t that to oppress our colleagues. Therefore how to participate in this movement with constructive change? Certainly doing great at teaching alone is not enough. I am still searching for the answer. You are welcome to leave your idea if you have any thought.

[1] https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/10/13/popular-lecturer-berkeley-will-lose-job-despite-strong-record-promoting-student

[2] ttp://alexandercoward.com/BlowingTheWhistleOnUCBerkeleyMathematics.html