Academic journal article Educational Foundations

Engaged Pedagogy and Critical Race Feminism

Academic journal article Educational Foundations

Engaged Pedagogy and Critical Race Feminism

Article excerpt

   Oh, fix me
   Oh, fix me
   Oh, fix me
   Fix me, Jesus, fix me.

We're still blaming teachers. At conferences and in publications, we 're still blaming teachers. In the news and at school board meetings, we're still blaming teachers. We're still talking about what teachers aren't doing and what they don't know. Teachers are faulty and broken. And everyone has something to say about how to fix them.

Yes, it's the teachers who are broken, faulty, and require fixin'. But I submit to you that teachers, like the students they serve, are victims. They get smashed by school districts with wrecking balls of bureaucracy, limited resources, and inadequate pay. They get smashed by impractical professional development that does little to support the realities of day-to-day school life. But sadly, they are also wrecked by us: teacher educators. But we are victims, too. We suffer the indignities of a political tenure track system that rarely values collaborative work in schools and school communities. We suffer the injustice of state and NCATE standards that devalue true social justice and academic freedoms that embrace a true and authentic meaning of curriculum.

But rarely do we get at the source. It is rare that we talk about how teachers are developed. How are teacher education programs structured? In what ways are these programs evaluated? And, in what ways do teacher educators engage in and model critically reflective self-assessment and evaluation toward the continual improvement of a praxis that supports educational equity?

As a woman of color scholar whose work focuses on the intersections of social foundations and curriculum theory in the context of urban teacher education, I am an advocate and purveyor of scholarship and praxis that raises the intellectual value of the work of teachers and teacher educators who wholeheartedly and unselfishly support those who are most likely to be underserved in the educational arena, k-20.

I advocate for and subscribe to the praxis of engaged pedagogy as defined by cultural critic and scholar bell hooks (1994). I advocate for and subscribe to the theoretical and conceptual notion of critical race feminism as defined by legal scholar and social activist Adrien K. Wing (1997). What I propose is a classroom praxis of engaged pedagogy from a critical race feminist perspective. In this article, I will describe hooks' engaged pedagogy in the context of the experiences I gained from a group of African American pre-service teachers in a social foundations course. This will be followed by a description of critical race feminism. The article will conclude with a discussion on engaged pedagogy from a critical race feminist perspective.

Engaged Pedagogy

bell hooks (1994) speaks elegantly about the process of teaching students "in a manner that respects and cares for" (p. 13) their souls as opposed to "a rote, assembly line approach" (p. 13). As a contrast to the 'safe' place of lecture and invited response, hooks moves to a place of resistance as she espouses "a progressive, holistic education ... more demanding than critical or feminist pedagogy" (p. 15). hooks advocates an education that goes beyond the classroom (Florence, 1998) and relates to students as whole human beings. In the context of the social foundations classroom at a historically Black university, this required finding ways to get to know my students and their connections to their families. This meant students interjecting their experiences regarding such issues as parental involvement to include their right to question the value of attending local school board meetings as part of their learning experience. Beyer (as cited in Florence, 1998) suggests that this may mean including elements of popular culture in the classroom experience. In my social foundations classroom, my students expressed a preference for writing rap and poetry to deliver their ideas, rather than the essay style writing required in the syllabus I developed. …

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