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Critical Pedagogy

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Critical Pedagogy: Teacher and student engagement is critical in the classroom because it has the power to define whose knowledge will be...

Critical Pedagogy:

Teacher and student engagement is critical in the classroom because it has the power to define whose knowledge will become a part of school-related knowledge and whose voices will shape it. Students are not just young people for whom adults should devise solutions. They are critical observers of their own conditions and needs, and should be participants in discussions and problem solving related to their education and future opportunities. Hence children need to be aware that their experiences and perceptions are important and should be encouraged to develop the mental skills needed to think and reason independently and have the courage to dissent. What children learnout of school — their capacities, learning abilities, and knowledge base — and bring to school is important to further enhance the learning process. This is all the more critical for children from underprivileged backgrounds, especially girls, as the worlds they inhabit and their realities are under represented in school knowledge.

Participatory learning and teaching, emotion and experience need to have a definite and valued place in the classroom. While class participation is a powerful strategy, it loses its pedagogic edge when it is ritualised, or merely becomes an instrument to enable teachers to meet their own ends. True participation starts from the experiences of both students and teachers.

When children and teachers share and reflect on their individual and collective experiences without fear of judgement, it gives them opportunities to learn about others who may not be a part of their own social reality. This enables them to understand and relate to differences instead of fearing them. If children’s social experiences are to be brought into the classroom, it is inevitable that issues of conflict will need to be addressed. Conflict is an inescapable part of children’s lives. They constantly encounter situations that call for moral assessment and action, whether in relation to subjective experiences of conflict involving the self, family and society, or in dealing with exposure to violent conflict in the contemporary world. To use conflict as a pedagogic strategy is to enable children to deal with conflict and facilitate awareness of its nature and its role in their lives.

Learning to question received knowledge critically, whether it is found in a ‘biased’ textbook, or other literary sources in their own environments, can be built by encouraging learners to comment, compare and think about elements that exist in their own environment. Women and dalit activists have used songs as a powerful medium for discussion, comment and analysis. Repositories of knowledge exist in different mediums, hence all these forms, whether television programme, advertisements, songs, paintings, etc., need to be brought into create a dynamic interaction among learners themselves.

A pedagogy that issensitive to gender, class, caste and global inequalities is one that does not merely affirm different individual and collective experiences but also locates these within larger structures of power and raises questions such as, who is allowed to speak for whom? Whose knowledge is most valued? This requires evolving different strategies for different learners. For example, encouraging speaking up in class may be important for some children, while for others it may be learning to listen to others.

The role of teachers is to provide a safe space for children to express themselves, and simultaneously to build in certain forms of interactions. They need to step out of the role of ‘moral authority’ and learn to listen with empathy and without judgement, and to enable children to listen to each other. While consolidating and constructively stretching the limits of the learner's understanding, they need to be conscious of how differences are expressed. An atmosphere of trust would make the classroom a safe space, where children can share experiences, where conflict can be acknowledged and constructively questioned, and where resolutions, however tentative, can be mutually worked out. In particular, for girls and children from under-privileged social groups, schools and classrooms should be spaces for discussing processes of decision making, for questioning the basis of their decisions, and for making informed choices


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CLEAR CTET: Critical Pedagogy
Critical Pedagogy
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