Transformative Pedagogies & Critical Constructivism


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This presentation focuses on the connections between learning theories and transformative pedagogies (i.e. feminist, critical, and ecojustice theories).

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Transformative Pedagogies & Critical Constructivism

  1. 1. Transformative Pedagogies Kurt Love, Ph.D. Central Connecticut State University
  2. 2. Docility or Democracy? • Does current education policy and curricula encourage docility or active democracy? • What are the actions of an active populace? How can education produce these actions?
  3. 3. From Constructivism to Critical Constructivism • What are the major elements of constructivism? • What are the major elements of critical constructivism?
  4. 4. 3 Types of Curricula • Mainstream Curriculum - Curriculum that is explicit • Hidden Curriculum - Messages that are implicit • Null Curriculum - Messages that are silenced, omitted, or just simply not included. These also are critical views of the mainstream and hidden curricula
  5. 5. 3 Types of Curricula • Mainstream Curriculum - Columbus was a strong, brave “explorer” that opened the doors for European colonization of the Americas. • Hidden Curriculum - Europeans are more advanced and sophisticated than the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Eurocentrism, patriarchy, technology over nature. • Null Curriculum - Columbus violently exploited and dominated the indigenous peoples of the Americas, which was part of a larger European mindset that allowed for genocide, enslavement, assimilation, colonization and in contemporary settings, globalization (or global Westernization).
  6. 6. Hidden Curriculum in a Teacher’s Practice Heterosexism Sexism Naturism Anthropocentrism Corporatism Eurocentrism Classism Patriotism/ Racism Militarism Teaching Practice
  7. 7. Power & Knowledge • The focus in critical constructivism is on the relationships between power and knowledge.
  8. 8. Evolution of Learning Theories Behaviorism Can only see behaviors; thinking is a mystery; mind is a “black box.” Cognitivism Lots of thinking going on in the brain; focused on the individual learner Sociocognitivism Learning largely happen in a social context Constructivism Learning is in a social context and interacts with our prior knowledge and experiences Critical Includes a focus on power and knowledge Constructivism relationships
  9. 9. Religionism Militarism Anthropocentrism Traditional Teaching Patriotism M L U Classism Sexism Heterosexism C U R I Racism R Religionism Militarism Anthropocentrism U Patriotism C Classism Sexism U M L Heterosexism C U Racism R I R U C Docility Christopher Columbus was a Columbus is a neutral great explorer who person in history discovered the New World Columbus was brave and strong Docility
  10. 10. Transformative Teaching Reading the World Context For Learning Curriculum How is Christopher Columbus seen by different peoples? Movement Who benefits from Columbus seen as a “hero?” Towards Who benefits from Columbus seen as a Social Justice Columbus seen as “hero” gives legitimacy to Europeans who used colonization, murderer & colonizer? genocide, and slavery for hundreds of years in the Americas.
  11. 11. Hidden Curriculum in a Teacher’s Practice What did did you learnschool today, dear little boyboy mine? What you learn in in school today, dear little of of I learned that Washington never told a lie mine? I Ilearned that soldiersnot so bad learned that war is seldom die I learned about that great ones we have had I learned the everybody's free We fought in the teacher said to me That's what Germany and in France And that's what II learned in my chance And someday might get school today And that's what I Ilearned in school today That's what learned in school That's what I learned in school What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine? What did you learn in school today,my friends boy of I learned that policemen are dear little I learned thatmine? never ends justice II learned that our government must becrimes learned that murderers die for their strong Even if we make a and never wrong It's always right mistake sometimes And that'sleaders learned finest men Our what I are the in school today That's what I learned in school And we elect them again and again And that's what I learned in school today That's what I learned in school
  12. 12. What is Learning? • Learning is a process of changing one’s relationships with her/his community, which consist of interconnections with nature and society. Assumptions: • Information is diverse, culturally grounded, and a representation of a value system (knowledge/power relationship). • The learner is constantly challenging their own location in relationship to culture, ideology, power structures, technology, and nature.
  13. 13. Model of... Learning as a process of changing one’s relationships with her/his community, which consist of interconnections with nature and society Teacher and students use dialogue to create learning Adults view knowledge Teacher treats knowledge as as subject to critical produced and located in questioning based on its culture, history, ideology, and cultural, historical, power relationships with Students see their own ideological, and ecological relationships with a curriculum locations and power society and our relationships that is culturally, historically, relationships with nature ideologically, ecologically located
  14. 14. Power & Knowledge • Bricolage • Critical Hermeneutics • Objectivism • Reductionism • Epistemology • Semiotics
  15. 15. Power & Education Power-Over Power Power-With Domination Nature Ecological over nature, sustainability, social injustice, human-nature docile & connection, oppressed Education social justice, student students engaged in creating social Community and ecological justice Nature
  16. 16. Power & Nature • Power-Over & Nature: • Technology & profit over ecological sustainability • Power-With & Nature: • Ecological sustainability • Human-nature connection
  17. 17. Power & Community • Power-Over & Community: • Conformity, consumerism, & inequality • Power-With & Community: • Democratic equality • Vibrant cultural commons
  18. 18. Power & Education • Power-Over & Education: • Students become “good workers” and participate in oppression of people and nature • Power-With & Education: • Students create knowledge, engage in socially just communities, and promote ecologically sustainable practices & relationships
  19. 19. Power-Over to Power-With
  20. 20. What is Hegemony? • Hegemony is the perpetuation of social injustices (i.e. classism, racism, sexism, heterosexism). • Hegemony allows for the powerful elites to retain their power while non-violently controlling the less powerful groups. • Hegemony is perpetuated through social consensus, social forms, and social structures including schools, church, media, political system, and family.
  21. 21. Different Pedagogies Power Spiritual? Eco-Justice Nature Traditional Pedagogy Pedagogy Critical Education Pedagogy Multicultural Community Feminist Education Pedagogy
  22. 22. Pedagogies of Hegemony • Traditional Pedagogy - maintain the current power structures (social stratifications & power imbalances) via conveying information that was constructed through the same power imbalances • Multicultural Pedagogy - The dominant group permitting (or tolerating) marginalized groups to have a place in society ONLY if there is no inclusion on power issues in cultural and social differences.
  23. 23. Transformative Pedagogies • Feminist Pedagogy - Critique the patriarchical conditions that are embedded and often invisible in curriculum and teaching practices • Critical Pedagogy - Critique the power structures that produce knowledge and are embedded and invisible in curriculum and teaching practices
  24. 24. Transformative Pedagogies • Eco-justice pedagogy - Resist(Western of the processes of Western Globalization the formation Monoculture) by engaging in the revitalization of the cultural commons (practices that are not dependent on a monetized system)
  25. 25. Major Feminist Critiques of Education Feminist Theory • History of patriarchy • Objectivity • Objectification of nature • Isolationism, individualism • Embedded in language
  26. 26. WHAT IS FEMINISM? What do you think that feminism is? Come up with as many examples of patriarchy that you can think of. Are only men capable of acting in a patriarchal way? Can only women be feminists?
  27. 27. A LITTLE HISTORY... First Wave Feminism - Late 1800’s in U.S. and Western Europe, focused on women’s suffrage and how men control women in the home. Second Wave Feminism - 1960’s-1970’s in U.S. and Western Europe, focused on “body politics,” what’s private is public/political, women’s movement Backlash - During the 1980’s in the U.S., strong patriarchal figures (Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh, Rambo, Rocky, and Andrew “Dice” Clay) gained popularity and provided a discourse against the civil rights movements of the previous twenty years.
  28. 28. A LITTLE HISTORY... Third Wave Feminism - 1990’s - Present globally, focused on intersectional analysis of race, gender, class, and geopolitical location Critique: These “waves” are from the perspective of White, middle class women in the U.S. and in Western Europe. Black females in the U.S. argued that they have been working on all three “waves” since the late 1800’s. Furthermore, White females often instituted racist conditions against Black women during the first and second waves.
  29. 29. DIFFERENT LEVELS OF PATRIARCHY Daily Living - Most visible (Car dealerships, service people, church, pay scales, etc.) Research & Construction of Knowledge - Less Visible (Carol Gilligan, heart attacks, Puerto Rico) Social Construction of Reality - Least Visible (Language, scientific philosophy, worldviews, ideologies)
  30. 30. SOCIAL STRUCTURE Since birth, women and men are driven down rigid paths of gender roles which not only encompass actions and behaviors, but thoughts and emotions. Science and math are continually seen as rational, independent, objective, impersonal, unemotional, and competitive. Thus, the production of knowledge has gone through a very narrow lens that has been legitimized by a patriarchal lens.
  31. 31. SCIENCE & OBJECTIVITY Can objectivity ever exist? Objectivity claims that we can somehow separate ourselves from our history, location, gender, culture, class, race, etc. and “relocate” to a “neutral” position from which to see the universe, nature, and phenomena. Donna Haraway calls this process a “god-trick.”
  32. 32. WHERE ARE WE? Sandra Harding’s “Strong Objectivity” Bring in as many different peoples into scientific research which can strengthen “objectivity.” Donna Haraway’s “Situated Knowledge” Researchers need to bring in their positions(i.e. race, history, culture, gender, location, class, etc.) into their work because knowledge is always constructed through who we are.
  33. 33. STANDPOINT THEORY The acknowledgement that we can never be neutrally located. With that, we need to always be aware of how social, historical, and cultural processes are constructing us, our thoughts, and our knowledge production processes such as research. Our knowledge is always produced from someone’s or a group’s “standpoint.”
  34. 34. FEMINIST PEDAGOGY What does this mean for your practice? What are some concrete examples of how you would tap into feminist theory as a way to make decisions about your own activities, lesson plans, curriculum, etc.?
  35. 35. WAYS OF KNOWING What are the different ways that we come to know information and construct knowledge? Observation Relationships Measurement Experience Historically Power Relations Intuition Intergenerationally Media Spiritually Emotionally Senses
  36. 36. THE EARTH Western Science: The Earth is a collection of materials, minerals, and chemicals in systems. Which “ways of knowing” construct this knowledge? Which “ways of knowing” are excluded? What is missing from this description of the Earth?
  37. 37. THE EARTH Indigenous Science: The Earth is an integrated, interdependent, interconnected, nurturing and spiritual being that reciprocates life through balance and sustainability. Which “ways of knowing” construct this knowledge? Which “ways of knowing” are excluded? What is missing from this description of the Earth?
  38. 38. Major Critical Critiques of Education Critical Theory • Power is concentrated in the production of knowledge • Subjects seen as disconnected from power and as a result are viewed as neutral. • Subject areas perpetuate hegemony of socioeconomic classes and race
  39. 39. Critical Pedagogy Major Focus: Understanding and disrupting power imbalances that are present in educational settings especially as affected by issues of class
  40. 40. Critical Pedagogy: Major Principles Liberatory Education: An educational experience that allows for students to question power in society. Class Struggle: The primary mode of analysis comes from looking at how socioeconomics limits people’s power. Jean Anyon’s study of how knowledge is treated differently based on the class of the students. Hegemony: Power concentrated with the dominant elites and maintained nonviolently through social structures.
  41. 41. Critical Pedagogy: Major Principles Cultural Capital: Those knowledges that are valued by the dominant elites Reading the World vs. Reading the Word: Understanding and investigating social justice issues vs. having technical decontextualized knowledge Naming: Exposing and identifying those social processes that promote hegemony and social injustice
  42. 42. Critical Pedagogy: Major Principles Cognizable Objects: An object from every day life that is used for deconstructing social processes that create social injustice. Generative Themes: Topics that students raise that become classroom topics for investigation and exploration.
  43. 43. Major Ecojustice Critiques of Education Eco-justice Theory • Nature seen as for-profit only • Consistent reduction of the cultural commons and commons-based practices • Knowledge as decontextualized • Language based on metaphors that supports competition and individualism
  44. 44. Roots of Ecojustice Theory & Pedagogy Ecofeminism - a feminist theory that describes the relationship between nature and women; includes an analysis of the added burden that women face, especially in third-world nations, when environment is compromised. Indigenous Education - rooted in Native American cultures and philosophies; includes a focus on humans as part of nature living with reciprocity.
  45. 45. Summary Points of Ecojustice Theory Eliminating eco-racism Revitalizing the commons to create a balance between market and non-market aspects of community life Ending the industrialized nations’ exploitation and cultural colonization of third-world nations
  46. 46. Summary Points of Ecojustice Theory Ensure that the hubris and ideology of Western industrial culture does not diminish future generations’ ways of living and quality of life Support an “Earth Democracy”--the right of nature to flourish rather than be contingent upon the demands of humans
  47. 47. Footpath = Your View of Reality? House Building Nature? Sidewalk Sidewalk Driveway Parking Lot Car
  48. 48. Our View of Ecology Creates Our Culture Our ecology is anthropocentric Our daily living ecology is seen as being separate from nature. Our technology is our ecology! Because our culture is separate from nature, our culture is separate from ancient wisdoms which are sustainable practices of living with each other and living with the Earth and all its inhabitants.
  49. 49. Technology = Ecology What happens to people when technology replaces ecology as a constant viewpoint and the main viewpoint of “reality”? What becomes of culture? knowledge? economics? value systems? health? relationships? views of dependence and interdependence? views of interconnectedness? systems of power? equity?equality? religion? sex? spirituality?
  50. 50. Teacher-as-Mediator Different from the constructivist view of teacher-as-facilitator Teacher-as-mediator - Teacher provides opportunities for students to explore two or more cultures, lifestyles, and relationships. The purpose is not only to compare, and understand the differences, but to ultimately consider what should be conserved from each for their own practices and lifestyles, as well as for their communities. Thick description - The complex act of studying, researching, and experiencing knowledge deeply.
  51. 51. Context is Everything! ❖ Traditional teachers often ask: “What facts and concepts do my students need to know?” Curriculum viewed as a package of facts to learn. ❖ Critical teachers ask: “What are the social, political, power-based, cultural, historical, and ecological issues that are happening in the world that are creating injustice?” The contextual problem that is posed in the classroom will have many, many pieces of the curriculum that will be covered.
  52. 52. The “Critical” Teacher Preparing Lessons ❖ “What are the social, political, historical, ecological issues that are current in the world that are creating injustice?” ❖ “Are the ways of bringing these critical contexts into the classroom that will naturally give way to covering the curriculum?” ❖ Constantly looking at the contextual problem and looking for connections to the curriculum.
  53. 53. Example: Global Warming Critical context: Global Warming Curriculum content that naturally comes out of Global Warming: Radiation, convection, conduction Atmospheric sciences Chemical Changes Fluid dynamics Chemical Equations Thermodynamics Stoichiometry Pollution Recycling & Conservation Chemical properties Fossil Fuels Caring for Environments Radiation, convection, conduction
  54. 54. What is Learning? • Learning is a process of changing one’s relationships with her/his community, which consist of interconnections with nature and society. Assumptions: • Information is diverse, culturally grounded, and a representation of a value system (knowledge/power relationship). • The learner is constantly challenging their own location in relationship to culture, ideology, power structures, technology, and nature.
  55. 55. Critical Education Resources ❖ Social Studies: Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States of America, James Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me ❖ Mathematics: Eric Gutstein and Bob Peterson’s Rethinking Mathematics ❖ English: Patrick Finn’s Literacy with an Attitude, anything on Critical Literacy (schedule an appointment with Dr. Cara Mulcahy in the Reading and Literacy department) ❖ Science: Kurt Love’s work, Angela Calabrese Barton’s Teaching Science for Social Justice, Wendell Berry, Sandra Harding, Donna Haraway, C. A. Bowers, Vandana Shiva