I plowed through the Giroux chapter last night and it made my knees hurt, as they always do when I walk in an ever-tightening circle. Reading Maha Bali’s cliff notes this morning was refreshing, however, and my knees are feeling better already.
Thank you. I found the Freire and hooks readings a lot more revealing, a lot more enlightening, but that is surely attributable to my lusophone and African-American heritage. Maha Bali’s mention at the end of her notes on the “multiplicity of views” challenging the grand narrative brought to mind an essay I once read on multiple working hypotheses, which can be found here: http://www.accessexcellence.org/RC/AB/BC/chamberlin.php. Hope to blog more in the next couple of days.
more later (including an after-action report on my morning library instruction workshop)…
Workshop went well. Sophomores. 10 minutes of instruction and 45 minutes in the stacks carrying out assigned tasks. I didn’t force them to form groups as with the freshmen, but definitely firmly suggested it, empowering them to make the decision. Most saw the utility of working in groups but we did have one “lone wolf.” Further, each team was assigned the complete list of scenarios.
For most, the content of the exercises was as interesting as the process of conducting the search. Students were creative, in fact, innovative in their execution. I encouraged teams to exchange information with other teams when they found themselves “lost,” and to cross check their searches with Google searches to uncover additional search terms (pearl- growing method).
Moving from group to group, I stressed to students the several aspects of the scenarios, for example, that the A&T Four were all freshmen, or that North Carolina’s education system was ranked near the best of the nation following the Sanford reforms. It clicked with them at various levels, which was “self-actualizing” for them as well as for me.
It was also interesting the way the groups did or did not implement a division of labor to cover all six scenarios. The class required that each person post a summary to findings to Blackboard, and in retrospect, it may have worked better had we required each team to post summaries, as a group. At a minimum it would have avoided the mad rush of students copying notes from teammates at the end of class.
Back to Giroux. I underlined (in pencil) passages I wanted to recall, but I put check marks in the margins of passages I definitely wanted to remember. What follows are paraphrased summaries of the margin-checked ideas:
1. Critical pedagogy is only relevant if it addresses “real social needs,” is “imbued with a passion for democracy,” and “provides the conditions for expanding democratic forms of political and social agency.” p.74
2. Critical pedagogy requires “an ongoing indictment ‘of those forms of truth-seeking which imagined themselves to be and placelessly valid'” (Gilroy, 2000). p. 75
3. Critical educators should be aware of and “attentive to the ethical dimensions of their own practice,” especially regarding their encouragement of critical reflection and moral and civic agency. p. 76
4. “Rather than providing students with an opportunity to learn how to shape and govern public life, education is increasingly being vocationalized, reduced to a commodity that provides privileges for a few students and industrial training for the service sector for the rest, especially those who are marginalized by reason of their class or race.’ p. 78
5. Educators should 1) resist “attempts on the part of liberals or conservatives to reduce the role of teacher to that of either technicians or corporate pawns,” and 2) refuse “attempts to reduce classroom teaching exclusively to matters of technique and method.”
6. “Critical pedagogy must: 1) be interdisciplinary and radically contextual, 2) engage the complex relationships between power and knowledge, 3) critically address the institutional constraints under which teaching takes place, and 4) focus on how students can engage the imperatives of critical social citizenship.”
Well, as you can imagine, there are plenty opportunities for this level of critical pedagogy in information literacy and library instruction. Content hand in hand with process and method, variety and diversity in examples, cognitively and culturally, and providing students the option to make their own decisions, hew their own paths, and respond responsibly to the outcomes.