I see critical pedagogy at the core of endeavors that lead to several sub-fields, such as critical literacy, multicultural education, diversity education, school reforms, feminism, and the latest version of critical thinking. Pedagogy that can help change the status quo, the prevailing systems in all levels of human society in which oppression and injustice exist to benefit certain groups of people, because it is radical and to the point, attacking the causes or the roots of human problems. Oppression leads to dissent or resistance, and thus violence follows. I see our world as being more and more violent. Critical pedagogy, however, is like a two-pronged sword. It has to be based on compassion, faith in human being’s potential to be better, and wisdom at a high level of what life is and is not.
I am still struggling to combine Paolo Freire’s approaches with the politics of education in the real world in which conflicts and complexities have come very far, perhaps rather too far now.
Here are some of what I wrote or read in the past as part of my transformation since 2002, when I first greeted Freire and thinkers on his camp.
I see connections among the prominent schools of pedagogic thoughts actively talked about in the U.S. and international community and wish to bridge them as I move further to learn about a more innovative and peace-oriented education. I hope to be able to use the insights into all these interconnected issues in informing educational policy making processes in which I may have an opportunity in the future to participate.
Critical thinking started off as some sort of a way to enrich the pursuit of knowledge and truth. It used to be more of a literary, or epistemological, tradition, but has recently been developed to be more sociopolitical. In that light, critical thinking marries more happily with critical pedagogy and critical literacy. Critical literacy, to me, seems to be most loosely defined when it stands alone, but when it is combined with the more radical ideology of critical pedagogy and the latest version of critical thinking, which has become more sociopolitical (e.g. Paul, Elder, and Ennis), it becomes a very interesting field.
I have tried for the past few years to bridge the gaps that exist between the pure language learning and teaching pedagogy and the three schools of thoughts above. In TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Languages), the emphasis was, if not has been, placed predominantly on linguistic and cognitive and inadequately on the intellectual and spiritual aspects of social practices that are related to and often embedded in language use in the real world. I believe language education can go much further from where it stands now toward the more exciting, meaningful endeavors that move or change the world at all levels: personal, group, national, regional and global. I will share my work here when my reflections materialize.