Becoming a Critical Educator: Defining a Classroom Indentity, Designing a Critical Pedagogy

Becoming a Critical Educator: Defining a Classroom Indentity, Designing a Critical Pedagogy

Becoming a Critical Educator: Defining a Classroom Indentity, Designing a Critical Pedagogy

Becoming a Critical Educator: Defining a Classroom Indentity, Designing a Critical Pedagogy

Excerpt

When I think about current conditions for public education and about the task of educating teachers, a phrase I often use with my friends comes to mind: “I wish I had a magic wand.” I tend to make that wish when I'd like to extricate good people from difficult circumstances, from complex messes not of their own making, from fates they don't deserve. I use it, too, when an overwhelming challenge presents itself and the immediate and impossible question seems “Where do we begin?”

These factors all describe precisely the conditions I see children, teachers, and my colleagues caught in. Social inequities continue to grow worse because as a society, we like to pretend that racism and other forms of discrimination are behind us; that American society genuinely offers equal opportunity to all its constituencies and is without social class distinctions; that any existing poverty is a result of laziness and lack of initiative. Meanwhile, corporations and politicians concerned with profit rather than people are increasingly promoting rhetoric and implementing policies to define and constrict the entire field of education—even as professional educators are being educated (or pummeled) into believing that political issues can be kept outside the classroom, that education can be a politically neutral process. The results of these many factors include an array of vicious contemporary conditions for children, teachers, and teacher educators.

Wanting to make a difference in these deplorable circumstances, and wishing for but lacking a magic wand to impose a quick fix, I've opted instead to try to pursue change beyond my own classroom with this text. The issues are complex: How to persuade readers that there is no such thing as apolitical education? That race, class, gender, sexual orientation matter very much indeed—and not just to students, but to teachers themselves? That the agenda being imposed is a deliberate . . .

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