Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Iranian EFL Teachers' Attitudes towards Critical Pedagogy

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Iranian EFL Teachers' Attitudes towards Critical Pedagogy

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

In education, critical pedagogy can increase social awareness in teachers and learners, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Critical pedagogy also has some positive impacts on administration in that it can help policy makers to decide properly.

McLaren (2003) defines critical pedagogy as "a way of thinking about, negotiating, and transforming the relationship among classroom teaching, the production of knowledge, the institutional structures of the school, and the social and material relations of the wider community, society, and nation-state" (p. 75). McLaren (2003) also explains that critical pedagogy is an approach adopted by progressive teachers attempting to eliminate inequalities on the basis of social class, and that it has also sparked a wide array of anti-sexist, anti-racist, and anti-homophobic classroom-based curricula and policy initiatives. According to Rashidi & Safari (2011), trying to define CP in a practice-oriented stance, CP is introduced not as a set of ideas, but a way of doing learning and teaching.

CP as an educational approach aims to remove social and political injustice and tries to empower learners to critically question, reflect on and act against an undemocratic and inequitable society. According to McArthur (2010), "critical pedagogy with its strong agenda for change is grounded on the belief that education and society are intrinsically inter-related; and because of that, the aim of education is for the improvement of social justice for all" (p. 493). Based on the studies done by Alibakhshi & Rezaei Mezajin (2013), CP "requires a democratic classroom environment, where students' viewpoints are highlighted through discussion and there is shared power and dialogue among teachers and students". It creates conditions for the empowerment of learners and prevents their marginalization (Aliakbari & Faraji, 2011). Every student in critical pedagogy classrooms must be an independent and creative learner. Learning is not confined to classrooms, but it extends beyond the classroom environment (Benites, 2012).

Larsen-Freeman & Anderson (2011) believe that increasing the awareness of social injustice is the most important aim of critical pedagogy in the curriculum; thus, CP is trying to create a more egalitarian society. According to Sahragard, Razmjoo, & Baharloo (2014) the major aim of critical pedagogy is to prepare students who can find a solution for both their own difficulties and the ones concerned with the society. It attempts to raise consciousness and develop cooperative learning among students.

According to McLaren (2000), Paulo Freire is generally considered to be "the inaugural philosopher of critical pedagogy" (p. 1). Along with Freire, many other scholars (e.g., Apple, 2009, 2010; Giroux, 1981, 1983, 1988a, 1988b, 1992; Kincheloe, 2004, 2008; McLaren, 1995; Shor, 1992) have also a crucial role in the promotion of CP in traditional education systems. Critical pedagogy had its ups and downs in educational circles, but today it has reached a stable position.

Most educators (Benesch, 2001; Canagarajah, 1999, 2002; Morgan, 1998; Norton, 1997; Norton & Toohey, 2004; Pennycook, 1999, 2001; Ramanathan, 2002) believe that critical pedagogy is an essential element in teaching English. Critical theory is the origin of critical pedagogy so they have the same philosophies and approaches.

Critical pedagogy roots itself in the belief that every citizen deserves an education. Education involves passion for one's subject matter, the ability to get student to think critically, being creative about subject matter content, creating a classroom of an active community revolving around the learning of material, and the strong desire to teach and to learn (Rahimi, 2011, p. 180).

According to Schugurensky (1998), critical pedagogues attempt to raise students' consciousness, by utilizing the principles of CP in instruction and curriculum to help students take control of their own education. …

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