Critical Pedagogy is supposed to be about liberating students – but how can we do that in a academy-controlled classroom, where we are the teachers, all-knowing (at least about what we are teaching, but usually not even though), and they are the poor, culture-obsessed students coming to us to show them the way to higher learning?
Well, step back – deep breath. This is going to be hard going.
We want to show students the inequality in the power levels that exist all around them. Can we do this? Supporters of the pedagogy say that it’s possible – but it involves not taking advantage of our positions of authority. We must give powers back to our students – the power to decide what to learn, how to learn it and what environment to learn it in. They have the power and they must learn how it works when they handle it or when others hold it over them. Some students are not comfortable with this. Situations happen where the teacher must simply go back to a traditional teacher-student relationship. But there are perks…
Students can learn about the differences in the “oppressed” and the “oppress-ers.” They can look at both sides of the coin – their relationship to other teachers or their position as an educated individual. Where do they fit in in society? Where do others? How can they affect those power dynamics democratically? And how does this all make them a better writer?
Friere, Shor and others believe that this is the answer. We just have to understand the eternal presence of paradoxes. After all, we are all human, and so, the world exists with an infinity of possible choices, creating those paradoxes.