Radical Pedagogy & Class(room) Struggle

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Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
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Jun 8 2014 04:04
Radical Pedagogy & Class(room) Struggle

[deleted -- H]

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
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Jun 14 2014 06:14

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jef costello's picture
jef costello
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Jun 8 2014 09:35

That sounds like a really good experience H.

One of the ideas in the original discussion was about consciousness raising and, to my mind, the related idea of uncritical acceptance of the text. I think any teaching that has any radical pretensions (in fact I think this is basic good practise for teaching) should teach students to question the texts. In the case of the text chosen, I think you were right to criticise the choice, but the idea of using a text related to a strike is n ot a bad one. In the same way as when I give examples to students I use male and female examples as well as making sure not to give men and women masculine roles (too often) It is a very minor point, but if we take into consideration the disciplinary effects of language then it does have an effect (no matter how small) to illustrate examples of the passive voice by having men cook dinner and women fix the car.

So although I would agree with Caiman's point that consciousness raising is often patronising leninist rubbish, I also think that the whole point of education is to open people's minds and a teacher that creates a place where this can happen is doing their job properly (or not...) In the same way as people have helped me to understand things I think teachers have a duty to try to do the same. The difference between this is that idealy we should be presenting possibilities to students and allowing them to evaluate them, rather than telling them what they believe is wrong and that what I believe is right. I regularly have students ask me what the correct answer on a discussion topic is, because they view education (as do many teachers and most people) as someone telling you what the right answer is. I think refusing to give an 'answer' because they have already dicussed the issue and they have the information to make a decision or explaining my opinion in terms of how I reached the conclusion based on the information is radical.

With less able students then I think that we should try to give them a variety of texts to work from is useful, although far from being revolutionary it is the groundwork to rresponding to information in an open enough way to develop revolutionary ideas. With advanced students analysis is possible, but with political texts it is often difficult because the students may have no knowledge of the subject so analysis is difficult. With the 15 strike article you took to pieces I didn't know any of that information and I certainly wouldn't have expected students to know it, so in order to give them that information it turns my lesson into a didactic one where I am telling them the truth. The best option is to drop that particular text, unless you want to set it as a research project and even then I think it would be a bad idea because they wouldn't advance their language or understanding as much as with other subjects. I like to give students texts to analyse in pairs, that way they can compare the two articles and look at how reality is constructed. It is also interesting to show students how selection creates reality, for example aticles on dam construction might discuss the loss of animal habitats, destruction of homes, destruction of cultural/historical areas, supply of electricity, regular flow of water for agriculture, providing skilled jobs... All of those things can be true but it doesn't mean that every article using those facts is honet or representative. Helping students to understand what is subjective helps them to see what is objective and for a large number of students this is not something that they have been taught, their critical faculties are often very underdeveloped (hard to believe this isn't deliberate, but in many cases I don't think it is, although the British government for one is trying to rectify that).

Caiman del Barrio
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Jun 11 2014 17:07

Good posts by both Jef and H. I think Jef and I almost entirely agree, except for our definition of 'consciousness raising'. What I object to - essentially - is the conception of revolutionary theory, and teaching (I deliberately merged the two since radicals and teachers seem to overlap in their activities, for whatever reason), as something that is externally fed into someone rather than something to be induced from within them. I think this is related to a much deeper discussion about revolutionary theory and the origin of anarchy (did it REALLY start as a radical offshoot of liberalism during the Enlightenment? What is problematic about that notion?), but in terms of a TEFL teacher who often teaches learners from the (so called) developing world, it has a rather unpleasant colonialist, Euro/US-centric mentality.

In terms of my experiences, I've not had the sort of positives H can attest to, possibly cos most of my career - up until now anyway - has been in the private sector teaching language tourists. Recently, I've tried to diversify my portfolio/try something new (heh) and I've taken on some pretty different and varied types of English teaching work. It'd be great to keep this thread ticking over so people could share experiences, since I'm moving away from teaching language tourists now and spending more time with young workers and older immigrants/refugees (respectively).

I'm also involved in an English teaching project in the Amazon rainforest. I think I would be lying if I said my main motivations for my involvement in this project aren't selfish/personal, but there are a huge number of sociopolitical themes to analyse regarding it. I wrote a blog post about the role of education vis a vis development in my particular community, which people may find of interest: http://esecaiman.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/change-is-the-only-constant-part-1-the-development-of-education-or-the-education-of-development/

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Jun 11 2014 20:31

This might sound a bit harsh but I really don't like the tone of this discussion and how it developed from the previous thread. Some of the comments relate as much to that one as this one.

You all sound like a bunch of middle managers, radical middle managers. You brag about your teaching whilst completely failing to apply your highly developed pedagogical skills to situation where people who you consider less politically and professionally experienced are taking steps towards developing a way of working (like job working) which relates better to their interests. There are clearly valid criticism to be made and H made most of them but nevertheless.

What happened to all that highminded 'facilitating learning' type spiel? Only applicable to your classrooms where you have prepared lesson plans. (sorry if I get the terminology wrong) Outside the classroom banging people on the head with full frontal criticism is the best way to learn?

People teach for a living. It's a job, not everyone is wedded to the role.
Learning through developing things together and making space on your job sounds good. I'm talking about the teachers learning here.

H your experiences above sounds amazing, as in really really great. Using it as a stick to beat less experienced/fortunate teachers with ruins it. The context of the situation is very specific and contains (as I'm sure you are aware) a number of factors that came together to make it what it was. The dayjob for a typical TEFL teacher is very different I presume.

Then this talk about radical pedagogy. It sounds like mainstream ideas as far as I'm concerned. Execpt H's brain stuff I've heard all the rest promoted by my managers. Been teaching part time for four years. Admittedly my "subject" is a bit unusual. It's a given that the teachers will learn from the students and that you will try to bring in the students experiences and interests into the teaching situation. This is no wierd hippie institution either it's the regular state kind.

This thread is an advert for the nihilist communists Dupont bunch.

Now with that off my chest I'm looking forward to reading more about Radical Pedagogy. Dunno about the classroom bit though.

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Jun 14 2014 06:15

.

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
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Jun 14 2014 06:15

.

jef costello's picture
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Jun 14 2014 08:54
Cooked wrote:
This might sound a bit harsh but I really don't like the tone of this discussion and how it developed from the previous thread. Some of the comments relate as much to that one as this one.
...You brag about your teaching whilst completely failing to apply your highly developed pedagogical skills to situation where people who you consider less politically and professionally experienced are taking steps towards developing a way of working (like job working) which relates better to their interests. There are clearly valid criticism to be made and H made most of them but nevertheless.

What happened to all that highminded 'facilitating learning' type spiel? Only applicable to your classrooms where you have prepared lesson plans. (sorry if I get the terminology wrong) Outside the classroom banging people on the head with full frontal criticism is the best way to learn?

...H your experiences above sounds amazing, as in really really great. Using it as a stick to beat less experienced/fortunate teachers with ruins it...

Then this talk about radical pedagogy. It sounds like mainstream ideas as far as I'm concerned. Execpt H's brain stuff I've heard all the rest promoted by my managers...

Now with that off my chest I'm looking forward to reading more about Radical Pedagogy. Dunno about the classroom bit though.

I don't think that these criticisms are fair or applicable to this thread for the most part.
A chunk of H's post was related to the previous thread and it was aggressive (unfortunately no one managed to call him on it in a constructive manner iirc).
Your post is either not talking about this thread, or you are doing exactly what you criticise 'all of you' for doing. My post is fairly clear, I'm not expecting to change the world with my teaching, I'm trying to make it good teaching as well as open the door to radical ideas. I think Caiman's arguments are fairly similar although like H he is aiming higher than I am.

H, once again you have decided to take your ball and go home. I can't see your last two posts but it is such a waste to make posts and then delete them. If you believed they were worth making (and you have bitterly criticised admins for 'losing' your posts) then deleting them is wasteful and petty.

Caiman del Barrio
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Jun 14 2014 12:35

OK so Ed and me had a nice chat last night and I think it'd be a real pity if these conversations were incompatible with Libcom culture. I stand by the substance of what I said on the last thread, and I think people should be prepared to defend their work or accept criticisms of it without responding vitriolically. However, I accept that I am a part of that dynamic and I apologise if I've upset anyone.

I don't think Cooked's post is particularly constructive, and I think s/he would have done well to at least respond to H's invitation to share experiences of his/her education and/or visions of a freer education.

Maybe, maybe, someone else will come and rescue this by responding to my extensive blog post, Jef's post and H's lovely story too. Or, if you want, we can continue picking our wounds and nursing our bruised egos?

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Steven.
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Jun 14 2014 13:00

Yeah, Hieronymous, there was some really interesting stuff in your posts, it's a shame you have just removed them

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Jun 14 2014 14:02

I'm really up for actual discussion of this, (even if I find H's posts go a bit over my head) and Caiman I'm absolutely happy to move on and accept an actual apology, because as you say, your contributions did make me and others (esp women) feel unable to post.

However, 'I apologise IF I upset anyone' followed by accusations of egotism isn't really the best way to apologise I think.

I'm not trying to be antagonistic and I'm sure you're as sick of the bickering as I am, but until you can stop making little digs at every opportunity you get, it's not going to be a constructive discussion. I'm sure it's not on purpose and I'm sure you genuinely want to have a productive discussion, which is great. But I'm just saying that will be difficult if you can't change that behaviour.

I really do appreciate you making the effort Caiman, and I will try to as well, and I hope this doesn't come across too wanky.

EDIT - just to clarify, I'm not trying to have a go, just wanted to clarify how I think the discussion could be more useful for all of us

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Jun 14 2014 16:10

Have just read properly Caiman's post #9, and rather than being about radical pedagogy it's about the last discussion which turned into a row and got locked. Which has then triggered commie Princess to respond, also about the last row, and not about radical pedagogy - which is what this discussion is meant to be about.

Although now that Hieronymous has removed all of his posts (and I must admit I'm not entirely sure why) I'm not sure it's worth me trying to keep this discussion on topic as it's pretty much wrecked…

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Jun 14 2014 18:28

Cooked's post began with what seemed like a good faith critique of the tone of myself (and others), which I fully accept and think proper. I'm sorry for being aggressive. But Cooked didn't really address any of the points in the thread and quickly jumped to unprincipled name calling. I took Cooked's smear as flamebait. I think personal experiences are better shared on personal blogs -- like the fine one Caiman created -- where it's possible to express oneself honestly and feel that your ideas won't be judged in comparison to others in a completely irrelevant and ad hominem manner. I'll post a link if my co-workers and I create a blog.

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Jun 14 2014 20:29

TIL certain people on libcom can be dicks and others cannot.