1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Critical Pedagogy: Notes from the Real World - An Unreview

Joan Wink, Critical Pedagogy: Notes from the Real World, 3rd ed. (Pearson, 2005). 

This rambling and philosophically incoherent book is filled with questions such as "So what is Critical Pedagogy?" and even a chapter entitled "What in the World Do I Think It Is?", but Wink seems incapable of providing a clear definition of critical pedagogy. Instead, we get "gems" like this:

  • One way to begin this chapter would be for me to list several definitions of critical pedagogy right now. I am resistant  to doing that because readers might be tempted to memorize any one of them as if it were the true definition (24). 
  • In other words, Dear Reader: You are a numskull too dimwitted to be trusted with a definition. Or is it perhaps that a definition would require some clarity on the part of the Writer? 
  • Critical pedagogy means that we see and articulate the entire critical context of teaching and learning. We are not afraid to say what we see, and we move to take action. Critical pedagogy gives us the courage to say what we have lived. Critical pedagogy challenges us to question our long-held assumptions (67).
  • Got jargon? Got pious platitudes? Got a Party Line?  Little wonder that I had the same experience reading Wink's book that I had in reading stuff by Paulo Freire and John Dewey: these three all write in a faux mystical fashion. Here's an example from Freire
  • "There is no possibility for teaching without learning. As well as there is no possibility of learning without teaching" (Wink, qtd at 85). 
  • Whisky Tango Foxtrot, Over? If you dig brilliant flashes of the obvious these three will surely brighten your horizon.
All of this critical pedagogy talk reminds me of this clip from Whit Stillman's classic Barcelona: "Yeah, but they never talk about that [the actual text]. Or in the case of education, they never talk about content of education -- it's all about hegemony, class, power, race. In other words, education became an ideological battleground and supremely uninteresting.  Is it any wonder that education is such a mess with "sages" like this being touted as gurus and deep thinkers?

Give me a serious Marxist over any of these educators so fixated on praxis that they are utterly disinterested in academic disciplines and human subjects with actual intellectual, moral and spiritual needs.

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