Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Critical Pedagogy: A Community Conversation

"Learning is a process where knowledge is presented to us, then shaped through understanding, discussion and reflection." - Paulo Freire

Learning involves the social construct of knowledge, so guiding students to reason democratically, continually question, and make meaning from a critical analysis of everything they learn, establishes autonomy, self-regulation, purpose, and increases the awareness of students, so that they become branches of learning, rather than objects, of the world. So, this is similar to the old adage, “Be in the world, not of the world”, which relates to dispelling conformity to social norms or patterns of the world, but be transformed by the renewing and empowering of knowledge.

There are a number of racially diverse students that are part of learning communities in which cultural capital is frequently accompanied, and commonly differ from typical norms and world-views, so it’s vital to place the need of the student as primary. Critical reflection aids in placing racially diverse students needs and considerations primary through an analysis of self or critical critique of beliefs and behaviors, so it’s imperative to acknowledge the impact of your worldview and the influence it will reflect on the construction of students’ conception of self and the forming of their beliefs formed into knowledge by discussion.

What resonated most was Paulo indicated that learning isn’t necessarily dichotomous in which it’s amiss to accept one side, because knowledge isn’t restricted to solely reason, content, emotions, or fallacies, but should seek connections between understandings, interactions, and emotions. I really appreciate Paulo’s notion that teaching isn’t about transfer, but the construction of knowledge and possibilities. As educators we are tasked with identifying students’ prior knowledge and creating environments for students to construct new knowledge or add to existing knowledge, so it’s necessary for us to understand our students’ diverse world-views in effort to make their learning more meaningful as well as identify ways they are able to learn, construct, and produce their knowledge.

Learning is a self-governing process to some degree, so we should eliminate some of the reliance on the teacher to prevent authority dependence. The end goal is to empower and establish student’s ownership on their learning, so in effort to do so, a collaborative relationship should be constructed to make learning more meaningful as it applies to their cultural background, experiences, discipline, and world-views. So, this is similar to the old adage used in the advertising world, “In order to know the consumer, we have to be the consumer”, which relates to the teachers becoming learners, and the learners becoming teachers.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Encouraging & Collaborating Learning Differences

If we begin by choosing to value that both ourselves and our students have a human dignity, then we have a common ground to establish a learning relationship.

- Dale Knepper, Instructor, Fresno Pacific University

There is a unique voice in each student that represents their own experiences, logic and reasoning, stories, cultural backgrounds, ideas, thoughts, misconceptions, perspectives, abilities, and knowledge, which requires an environment to value, respect, and support their diverse voices while responding to their assorted need(s) and developing their unique skill-sets and moxie that will ultimately lead students to areas of constructing personal meaning to them.

Initiating investigation and exploration begins with The Knowledge Partner (Teacher), establishing a climate that equally values the voice of each student and develop processes for students to establish connections that promote a healthier, holistic learning climate/environment and student achievement. There are shared roles and responsibilities between The Knowledge Partner and the student in building an inclusive environment. The Knowledge Partner is responsible for accommodating the need(s) of each student, promote deep thinking, challenge assumptions or beliefs, assist in reflecting on ideas or thought for further elaboration, provide constructive feedback, and most of all encourage creativity, questioning, and reasoning. 

While The Knowledge Partner is committed to student diversity and appreciating the various learning differences, the ultimate goal is to provide meaningful, authentic activities, assignments, and materials that will aid students in connecting and engaging with the material as well as one another effectively. The Knowledge Partner works collaboratively with each student as well as each student working with one another in constructing/ creating knowledge and providing the necessary resources in to deepening understanding in content area. 

The focus of The Knowledge Partner in an inclusive environment is being aware of your own hidden biases, cultural assumptions, and stereotypes that possibly could influence interactions or interfere with students' learning and providing students with the opportunity to develop their skill-sets, mastery, and depth of content in the specific area of focus. Overall, inclusive pedagogy isn’t solely about race, gender, or cultural backgrounds, but a compilation of everything as a whole to transition from “one-size fits all” approach, to a more “tailored approach” to the unique need(s) and voice of each student.