Friday, April 19, 2013

Some Resources and Readings

This is a short article by Scott Thornbury that includes an outline of basic tenets of critical pedagogy.

He lists the following principles:
Critical Pedagogy...

1. is transformative, and seeks social change 
2. foregrounds social inquiry and critique
3. challenges the status quo and problematizes ‘givens’
4. devolves agency to the learner
5. is participatory and collaborative 
6. is dialogic 
7. is locally-situated, and socially-mediated 
8. is non-essentialist, i.e. it doesn’t reduce learners to stereotypes, but rather legitimizes individual identities 
9. is self-reflexive

And here are two entries from his blog that touch on the idea of critical practice:
Critical Pedagogy
Linguistic Landscapes

There are also a number of blogs that offer resources, ideas, activities, and thoughts on critical practices in language learning.  One of the most well known is esletc.  Though a lot of the materials seem to be aimed at highly proficient learners, there is a lot of information there that might be useful to you.
The Freire Project is another site with information, resources, and links for critically minded educators.  And here is a blog aimed at sharing lessons and activities for English learners in Turkey (some of which seem to have a 'critical' edge to them).
I encourage you to have a look around the web for other resources, idea, and activities that you might be able to adapt to your own teaching and learning settings....

Here is a guide to reading images (adapted from resources at "The Critical Thinking Consortium") that you may be able to adapt to your practice:

Explaining Images
adapted from “The Critical Thinking Consortium”

                                                            Observations                                                               Inferences
Who is in this picture? (Gender, Social Class, Sexuality, Status)

What are these people doing? / What is happening?

When was the picture taken?

Where is this? (Region, Country, Culture...)

Why is the person doing this?

We can also combine this exercise with adaptions of the “critical questions” we discussed in class: 
1)  Who took this picture?  Whose perspective does this show?  What other perspectives can we imagine?

2) Who is the intended audience?  Who will see this picture?  What will they probably think about this picture? 

3) Who is represented?  Who or what do the figures, places, and objects represent?  What might be missing from this image?  

Friday, April 12, 2013


What is the story?

Who tells the story?

What names do we use?

The Dialectic
Oppressor  -- Oppressed 
Theory  --  Practice
Object  --  Subject

Banking Education

Received Readings and Oppositional Reading

Who is the ideal audience?
What is the intended message for the ideal audience?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Some Guiding Thoughts/Questions on Freire

In response to a few people who mentioned they would like to focus more specifically on our readings, their meaning(s), and their relevance, I have attached a few thoughts/questions related to the first two chapters of "Pedagogy of the Oppressed".  You do not need to answer these for class, but they might bring some focus to your reading:

First, Freire is offering us a very clear example of dialectic thinking.  In dialectic thought, any idea or "thesis" is understood in relation to an opposing idea or "antithesis".  Knowledge is gained when one is able to move beyond what seem to be contradictions between the "thesis" and "antithesis" towards a "synthesis".  In Freire, we see repeated references to various dichotomies.  For example:

Oppressor - Oppressed
Object - Subject
Theory - Practice

In each of these examples, Freire seeks a synthesis that brings us to a new level of understanding.  When reading these two chapters, try to pay close attention to the ways Freire attempts to synthesize these various dichotomies.

Oppressor - Oppressed
What does Freire mean in saying that a dichotomy between Oppressor and Oppressed leads to the dehumanization of both?
What can be done to "synthesize" this dialectic?  Why is this "synthesis" so difficult? (hint, he discusses this for the first several pages of Chapter One)

Object - Subject
This dialectic is very closely related to the ways we name the world, and involves the relationship between our thoughts and our actions (see p. 56).  Freire denies the idea that we have access to a purely objective world, just as he denies the idea that our subjectivity can be separate from the world.  In short, the objective world and the self are in a dialectic relationship.
What does Freire's object-subject dialectic (p. 32) suggest about HOW we might transform the conditions of oppression?  What is "praxis" and how does it attempt to resolve a dichotomy between theory and practice?
Why/how does 'banking-education objectify the world?  How can problem-posing challenge this objectification?

Freire claims that "problem-posing education affirms men and women as beings in the process of becoming-as unfinished, uncompleted beings in and with a likewise unfinished reality"? (p. 65).  What do you think is the significance of understanding ourselves as incomplete or unfinished beings and how does this help us synthesize the oppressor - oppressed dialectic?

Some terms commonly associated with Freire:
Banking Education 53-57
Problem-posing 60,63
Dialog 47,49,
Praxis  33-35,47,60
Conscientization 48,49,60,63

"Any situation in which some individuals prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence....  to alienate humans beings from their own decision-making is to change them into objects (p. 66)."

Friday, April 5, 2013

Critical Theory & The Frankfurt School

Why think about pop culture?
What are some of the effects of pop culture?
(How) Can we 'read' pop culture in a critical manner?
Should pop culture become a relevant part of our work as critically engaged language teachers?

(+)                                                                                           ( - )
Improving the Korean 'brand'                                                      Unrealistic depictions of beauty
Generating capital                                                                    Distraction
                                                                                               Pressure to be beautiful

Tools for Thought:
"The philosopher, pacing his Oriental rug, was in a dark mood"
(example by Paul Fry)

The Frankfurt School:  Europe in the mid 1920's

Industrialization, modernization, and the invention of "modern times"

What is "The Culture Industry"?

진달래 꽃”(김소월)

나 보기가 역겨워
가실 때에는
말없이 고이 보내 드리오리다.

영변에 약산진달래꽃
아름 따다 가실 길에 뿌리오리다.

가시는 걸음 걸음놓인 그 꽃을
사뿐이 즈려밟고 가시옵소서.

나 보기가 역겨워
가실 때에는
죽어도 이니 눈물 흘리오리다.

Azeleas” (역례 3)
If you go away
Through with me
I will quietly let you go.

I will gather azleas in armfuls
At Yaksan hill in Yongbyon
To scatter them on your path.
Tread with a tread,
Light and gentle,
On the flowers as you go.

If you go away
Through with me
Never will I weep though I perish.

Standardization, Passivity and Pseudo-individualism?

"The Aura" and Ritual

The destruction of the aura through traditional artistic display

Aesthetics in Politics vs  Politicizing Aesthetics

Reading an image: