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Using Critical Pedagogy to Educate for Democracy in the Graduate Classroom

Abstract: This qualitative study examines professors‘ teaching practices and students‘ experiences in graduate classrooms that exhibit critical pedagogy in order to educate for democracy. The university has been criticized as markets values have commodified teaching and learning to serve private interests. This threat challenges students being educated for democracy with respect to concern for equity issues and thus opposes the public good. The study embraces radical democracy that acknowledges both issues of power and difference in order to understand social relations. Freire (1973) conceptualized critical pedagogy in order for students to explore knowledge critically similar to their roles as probing citizens. The study engages Shor‘s (1992) agenda of values, a model of critical pedagogy, along with equity discourses of anti-racist and feminist thinkers. The study addresses three questions: (1) What are the professors‘ teaching practices and the students‘ experiences in the critical classrooms? (2) What is the pedagogical climate of the critical classroom that contributes to educating for democracy? (3) What is the purpose of actualizing critical pedagogy in order to educate for democracy? The data is collected through classroom observations and interviews with 15 students and 3 professors in three, 12-week graduate courses at a Canadian Faculty of Education. The critical classrooms were described through: experiences of standardized teaching and learning, student-centered teaching as a means to empowerment, role of teacher authority, silences among students and creating a language of possibility or projecting a grand vision of democracy. The pedagogical climate that contributed to the critical classrooms was: implementing student voice, constructing a political discourse, striving for social change and using teacher authority. Constructing multiples publics and developing the teacher-student relationship defined the purpose of critical pedagogy. It has been concluded that a pivotal point for critical classrooms is examining the intersection of power and difference among teachers and students. As exploratory research, limitations of the study, implications for theory and practice as well as future research are addressed.

Author: Romona Vivica Goomansingh

Source: University of Toronto - TSpace

Size: 1.08 MB
Last Updated: July 31, 2015