“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
--Audre Lorde

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Critical Pedagogy and Library Instruction Report Back

Submitted by alycia on Sun, 05/09/2010 - 11:27

Writing after a thorough brain workout at the Critical Pedagogy and Library Instruction session held here at home base in the Brooklyn College Library yesterday.

Ira Shor, presenting the first portion of our event, was really enlivening. I appreciated how he infused discussions of class, social consciousness and context into all what he spoke about. A few notes that I jotted down from his talk follow below.

After Ira's talk, we had planned to have three separate breakout discussion sessions led by three critical teaching library scholars (Tom Dodson, Emily Drabinski, and Alana Kumbier), but since our group was a bit smaller than expected, the consensus determined to have one larger discussion. I found that this, and the discussions held throughout the day were very fruitful and considerate, and I hope that this event inspires further conversation and collaboration between librarians and their teaching colleagues. And I hope that we can implement Jenna's suggestion to have an interlibrary tour of instruction--a program to share, collaborate and improve upon our shared teaching methods. Let's keep the conversations we had with this event going!

A few notes from our conversations with Ira Shor:

  • Find a question that intrigues students. Don't comment on their answers, judge, or place yourself into the conversation.
  • Instead of answering a question as the instructor, you can reframe it and ask it of the class. Resist answering questions.
  • What do we do when our experience contradicts data? Examine the data critically, put the data and the experience in conversation with each other.
  • Stephen Toulmin, warrant and claim
  • Activity: complete this sentence: "For good health, it helps to..."
  • "How do you know that this is true?"
  • Validate students: "How many people agreed with what this person said?" provide support for those who are volunteering to participate
  • Critical Pedagogy: A social justice curriculum specifically designed to question the status quo and promote democracy, peace, equality and ecology, at home and abroad.
  • QSQ (questioning the status quo) can mean many things--Tea Party members question the status quo...
  • Other important words for Crit Ped: bottom-up, oppositional, insurgent, counter-hegemonic.
  • The term "pedagogy," however, is limiting, exclusive and imposes a hierarchy of teaching. Shor prefers Critical Teaching or Critical Learning, both of which exclude less. Finds that K-12 teachers do not identify or use the word pedagogy.
  • Cultural action for freedom; no such thing as impartial teaching.
  • Power never leaves discourse alone. It can't let discourse happen freely.
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed: "Narration Sickness." When we are lectured and over-addressed by authority, we become compliant and authority dependent.
  • Say as little as possible in the classroom.
  • To adapt Freire for US urban college students, need to try to remember to: Historicize, Materialize, and Personalize.
    • Historicize: C Wright Mills: "socialogical imagination"
    • Materialize: concrete; you can taste, feel, touch and believe in what you are learning. Higher education teaches us to display a high status discourse, which is abstract and theoretical (as opposed to material). Make teaching as tangible as possible.
    • Personalize: discover the local, daily life of the people in the room with you.
  • "Advice I give to myself" Responsibilities: Desocialize (saying as little as possible for as long as possible), Demystify (a "good" class is a quiet class?? allow students to ask questions), Demythologize (myths work to organize people and thoughts; examine myths--American Dream, etc. and the ways that dominant culture teach us about the world)
  • Mutual investigation vs. lecturing
  • Power of Ideology; what is good, what is possible, and what exists.
  • Participatory, dialogue, pose problems, share power, seek student expression.
  • The banking model divides us from students.
  • The knowledge-making process is owned by everyone.
  • Mutual ownership of the knowledge-making process (teacher and student)
  • Activity posed as a problem: Why are we in the library today?
  • Jürgen Habermas, Lifeworld
  • Unofficial texts that the class creates together and official texts--librarians are in charge of all the official texts
  • Because...
  • Teacher after every class invites students to talk about the class and be accountable to students.

zomg thank you for taking and

zomg thank you for taking and posting such great notes!

I feel you on "thorough brain workout." I was exhausted when I got home.

More discussion

Further reporting on the event and thoughtful consideration over at Library Praxis, one of my favoritest blogs ever: http://librarypraxis.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/brooklyn-college-critical-...

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