Teaching against the Grain: Texts for a Pedagogy of Possibility

Teaching against the Grain: Texts for a Pedagogy of Possibility

Teaching against the Grain: Texts for a Pedagogy of Possibility

Teaching against the Grain: Texts for a Pedagogy of Possibility

Synopsis

Conceiving of pedagogy as a form of cultural politics and teachers, therefore, as cultural workers, Simon offers a fresh vision of the notion of pedagogy. Grounded in an ethical and political stance devoted to the advancement of human dignity, Simon reflexively considers the basis on which teachers form their own dispositions and feelings, and urges them to consider not only what they might do as teachers but what social visions are supported by their practices. In this pedagogy of possibility Simon throws light on the significance of his theoretical commitments as applied to educational practice.

Excerpt

In 1979 my colleagues and I at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE, a graduate school of the University of Toronto) began what we clearly understood as a legitimation exercise. A number of us were developing teaching and research rooted in specific commitments to enhancing the degree of justice and compassion present in our community. What gave our work a measure of coherence was the view that education might be understood as a practice of cultural production whose effects influenced not only the distribution of material goods and available opportunity structures but as well, the social imaginary through which people defined both what was possible and desirable. As university faculty we were able to follow our own individual and collective interests with minimal constraint. However, students with similar commitments felt the absence of an institutional "home"; a community of interest with which they could identify and in which intrainstitutional support practices (speaker series, study groups, newsletters, bulletin board space) could be mobilized. It was in response to this need that we established the Critical Pedagogy and Cultural Studies Forum at OISE. Animating communication and collaboration among a growing number of faculty and students, together with our colleagues in the OISE Center for Women's Studies in Education we participated in creating an institutional legitimacy for the broad spectrum of academic work including feminist studies, critical studies, antiracist education and radical pedagogy.

In the context of this legitimation effort a number of us started publicly using the term "critical pedagogy." Not only did the term begin to ap-

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