07 SES 06 A, Misclusion, Precarity and Social Justice
The purpose of this study is to investigate how teachers prepare themselves to play their role of developing their students critical thinking to understand the injustice and power relations in their society. The emphasis is on teachers as subjects and their role on preparing “critical citizens” (Moyo, 2013) that will promote democracy and social justice.
Teachers are expected to work with different functions of education such as qualifications, socialization and subjectification (Biesta, 2015). Kincheloe (2008) describe teachers in a critical context as follows:
Teachers working in a critical context rebel against the view of practitioners as information deliverers, as deskilled messengers who uncritically pass along a canned curriculum. Highly skilled scholarly teachers research their students and their communities and analyse the curricular topics they are expected to cover. In light of such inquiry, these teachers develop a course of study that understands subject matter and academic skills in relation to where their students come from and the needs they bring to school… (Kincheloe 2008, 118).
My attempt to understand the role of teachers is inspired by critical pedagogy. According to this perspective, teachers who are willing to give room for their students and encourage them to be critical citizens are considered “problem posing educators” (Freire, 1970), “radical teachers” (Giroux, 1983), “public intellectuals” (Giroux, 2011), etc. According to Freire (1970) these teachers recognize the role of “teacher-student” and “student-teacher”; they teach their students and they are also ready to learn through their students´ reflections and from their life experiences.
These teachers in addition to their good theoretical understanding are also activists in their society. Through participation in organizations such as teachers´ unions, local cultural and social associations they are well informed about the current issues and demands of their society.
In their classrooms, together with their students through “generative themes” (Freire, 1970) raises issues that are not only about school subjects but also relevant to the society at large. By using “dialogic metod” (Ibid., Shor & Freire,1987) they gradually approach the issues from different angels; this enable them to see inequalities and injustice some sectors of the society are experiencing. Beyond understanding, in practice they work on promoting democracy and social justice.
I would like to give two examples from the literature I reviewed. The first one is about an American high school teacher, who brought a leather soccer ball and put it in front of his students of Global Studies. He asked them to write anything about the ball and he told them they are allowed go to the front touch it and investigate it as they want. They wrote about it from different perspectives but all of them missed the text in small letters on the ball, that says Made in Pakistan. When the teacher showed them that, they started wondering why it was made in Pakistan, who produced it, how was the working condition for those who produced it, etc. This lead them to critically reflect and discuss even other issues related to materials produced abroad and the exploitative relations involved (Smyth, 2011).
The second example is about students from poor farmer families in Tuscany region in Italy. They were helped by their teacher, Don Lorenzo Milani to be aware of their underclass non-privileged position in their society and their school. Eight pupils from the school, Barbiana school wrote a book titled, Letter to A Teacher (Lettera). In their book, they criticized the school system for failing them and the privilege middle class children received in their expense (Mayo, 2013).
I reviewed literature that deals with the role of teachers as pedagogues which work with school subjects, intellectuals who are reasoning through dialogue with their students and activist who work close to their communities. I focused on the literature that describe the teacher as facilitator and partner in the process of developing their students, the future critical citizens. The study is mainly based on the written experiences of critical pedagogues. Through their lectures, writings and their actions many of them inspired their colleagues and their students on critical understanding of the educational system and the society at large. The authors of the articles and books that I used have a long-time experience in the field. Some of them wrote based on their empirical study, on how themselves or their colleagues used some critical methods to create awareness about oppressive/exploitative systems. Some of these literatures provide good examples of how students were helped to investigate beyond limited information provided by advertisements about products. There are also cases where they were supported for self-reflection and dig deep in to the injustice in their society. Through reading these literatures I was out in their world and got access to materials that could be used for this conference paper.
Preliminary results The result of the literature I reviewed shows that these teachers are expected to be pedagogues, intellectuals and activists with the aim of empowering their students coming from the underprivileged classes and standing along these groups in the society. They are expected to connect education in the classroom with the reality outside the schools, by including their students´ day to day reality in their lessons. The teaching task is expected to include creating a systematic awareness among the students about the injustice and inequality within their society. These teachers are expected to reveal the hidden reality of exploitation by the cotemporary capitalist system against the masses of the population locally, nationally and globally. Teachers as trained professionals are knowledgeable on how to take care of their students, on how to help them gain the subject knowledge, organize them in groups to work together to learn from each other and think together to solve some problems. They also know what to teach, how to teach and why they are teaching the content. Intellectual teachers more than teaching the subject matter, motivate their students to understand the society outside their school. They have deep knowledge of their society acquired through reading historical facts, by following local media and through direct communication with members of their communities. In addition to their own knowledge they encourage their students to investigate by themselves, to find out the injustice in their community and the needs of their community. Activist teachers work with different interest groups with the aim of ameliorating the problems of their community. These teachers as pedagogues, as intellectuals and as activists serve as bridges between their classrooms/schools and the larger society. They understand the importance of fighting for just society. They are role models for their students.
References Apple, M. W. (2013). Can education change society? New York: Routledge. Biesta, G. (2015). What is education for? On good education, teacher judgement, and educational professionalism. European Journal of Education, 50(1), 75-87. Foucault, M. (2000). Michel Foucault, Power, essential works of Foucault 1954-1984 (ed. Faubion, J. D.). New York: Penguin Books. Freire, P. (1970/2012). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum. Giroux, H. A. (1983). Theory & Resistance in Education: A pedagogy for the opposition. London: Heinemann Educational Books. Giroux, H. A. (2004). Critical Pedagogy and the Postmodern/Modern Divide: Towards a pedagogy of democratization. Teacher Education quarterly, Winter, 2004. Giroux, H. A. (2011). On Critical Pedagogy. New York: Continuum. Kincheloe, J. L. (2008). Critical Pedagogy. New York: Peter Lang. Mayo, P. (2013). Echoes from Freire for a critically engaged pedagogy. New York: Bloomsbury. Shor, I. & Freire, P. (1987). What is the “Dialgogical Method” of Teaching? Journal of Education, 169 (3), 11-31. Smyth, J. (2011). Critical Pedagogy for social justice. New York: Continuum. Smyth, J., Down, B., McInerney, P. & Hattam, R. (2014). Doing critical educational research: A conversation with the research of John Smyth. New York: Peter Lang.
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