Reconstructing Education: Toward a Pedagogy of Critical Humanism

Reconstructing Education: Toward a Pedagogy of Critical Humanism

Reconstructing Education: Toward a Pedagogy of Critical Humanism

Reconstructing Education: Toward a Pedagogy of Critical Humanism


Drawing on elements of progressive education, existential theory, feminist pedagogy, and values education, Reconstructing Education combines the holistic-psychological concerns of humanistic education with the sociopolitical contextualization of critical pedagogy. This empowering example of an educational system that motivates students and encourages them to become active members in a truly democratic society also reviews this century's educational theories and the way this new theory and practice developed over the past 17 years in one of North America's most experimental postsecondary programs, The New School of Dawson College.


The North American institutionalization of the training of educators has resulted in the formation of some epistemologically questionable discrete categories with which to formulate the educational experience. These categories are theoretical/educational foundations; curriculum development; pedagogy/educational psychology; and the social, historical, and comparative contexts in which formal education takes place.

While each category is instantly recognizable as a part of the whole, this division--which is reproduced through territorial divisions within higher education--does not reflect the reality in which teaching and learning are experienced by educators and students. Rather than experiencing teaching and learning in discrete categories, participants are involved in a dynamic process in which educational philosophy (whether overt, informal, or invisible), subject matter, pedagogy, and the context in which this activity is taking place are dynamically and mutually informing. While these four elements of education cannot be ignored, they also cannot be separated.

Educational theory is often presented in a manner divorced from the specificity of its praxis and its possible application. Indeed, theory has often been articulated after a praxis has been seen to "work." However, the criteria of "working" are not always articulated, and within state-run educational systems it is probably accurate to assume that the criteria for a praxis which "works" may be those which work in the interest of the state and a power elite who most benefit from the structures and system of rewards built into educational systems.

Pedagogy is not always regarded as a complex, intermeshed series of preoccupations but is often reduced to the positivistic ruminations of social scientists in the field of education, whose work is often funded by the state . . .

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