Being Critical of Critical Pedagogy!

When I was reading chapter 2 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire, it was more like I was reading the applications of ‘Mindfulness’.  One of the issues brought up in this article was about power dynamics in a class setting and how certain actions of the student could make them disrespectful to the teachers. It actually happened with me and my friends in one of our history classes in high school. I remember some of us (students) questioning on the events that our history teacher was discussing, and which we did not agree to but were stopped in between and were seen as bad students who did not respect teachers and consider themselves knowing more than the teacher in the class. Us questioning was seen as disrespectful to the teacher which was never our intention (of course).

In theory and for discussion purposes, critical pedagogy seems to be so ideal and so important but it is hard to implement. The onus is on the teacher to take charge of what is been taught, why is it being taught and how it is being taught. But, it is difficult to implement it in the class. And it is difficult because it is not easy to take criticism from students. Teachers are considered to be the ones who deliver knowledge to the students and the preconceived notion is that teachers cannot be questioned. It is time to change the stereotype and make the class, an environment to be a two-way process for both teachers and students.


7 thoughts on “Being Critical of Critical Pedagogy!

  1. When students point out a teacher’s mistake, they often face a wide range of reactions from their instructor. I have had teachers take it lightly, apologize for the mistake, correct it and move on. While others stubbornly and irrationally defend their position just to avoid admitting their mistake. I remember being kicked out of an economics class in undergrad for correcting my professor and insisting that his equations are wrong. After I went to his office, he still did not want to completely admit I was correct and ended up saying to me “I think you might have a point, Ill check it out and get back to you”. He never did get back to me, but still.

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  2. Your post reminded me to wonder how the gifted program teacher teach a class full of genius? In my country, the top one high school has a gifted program, the students there is top among top students in the whole country with IQ over 140 or more. I don’t know what kind of teacher been qualify and can survival among these genius students…

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  3. Hi Kushboo, the Freire writing also reminded me of the week we talked about mindfulness. I also struggled with how to ask certain questions in high school so as not to offend my teacher. I always wanted to know what the real-world applications were in my math classes, but its hard to get your teacher to hear genuine interest when they expect to hear “when am I ever going to use this?”.


  4. Hi Khushboo,
    I think this is a great reflection on critical pedagogy. With most things, it can be difficult to know where to start or how to begin when concepts are new. BUT, I would say that a great place that ALL of us can start from is one where we aren’t afraid to admit we don’t know everything. As soon as we say those words to our students, we remove the wall that separates the teacher from the students. In that moment, we open up with an invitation to be the “learning community” that we’ve been talking about all semester. Those words also show the student that their questions and observations are welcome, so they will be more engaged with the course–because they immediately know that “we’re all in this together.” Critical pedagogy may seem difficult because it can feel like a lot of responsibility–and it is–BUT, the work is so worth it! I think you are smart to spend time figuring out what critical pedagogy will mean for you as an educator–what we do in our classrooms has direct impacts on society.

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  5. Great post, Khushboo! I imagine ideal things are never easy to implement. You have to cross many barriers, personal and professional. However, once they are crossed, there is a completely different world waiting and for good. The idea behind teaching and education is not clear to many educators and teachers and that is the main problem, I believe. Teaching itself is a difficult task and if someone asks to add more to the plate, the natural instinct is to move away from that towards the comfort zone. And yet all good things are just out of that comfort zone.

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  6. I was amused by “And it is difficult because it is not easy to take criticism from students.” because I think it’s difficult for most people to take criticism. But your point is very valid, because when we see criticism as questioning our authority or status as the expert, especially when we do not think that the people that are making the criticism is “allowed” to do so, the surprise/embarrassment car cause people to be even more defensive. It’s very important for us to remind ourselves, when this inevitably happens, that we should facilitate learning and education and not act defensively.

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  7. Hi Khushboo, I really enjoyed reading your post as it resonated with an experience I had studying abroad– though I am sad you had the experience. The undergrad university that I attended really encouraged dialogue between the students and the professor. I never felt that the professors looked at us as below them. However, when I studied abroad, the educational system was much more of a banking concept– they gave us knowledge and how dare we question them. I questioned something the professor said (obviously not in a disrespectful way) and the professor took it as a sign of total disrespect which I never intended. The rest of the semester was very awkward and tense. Like you, I believe the class should be a two-way street. I think that both students and professors can learn from eachother.


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