ADED 4P91 – Week 2 Reflections “Critical Orientation to Learning”

For those reading who are not in Brock University’s Adult Education program, I’ll be doing weekly (or almost weekly as time permits) reflections on the readings which come from Stephen Brookfield’s “Becoming a Critical Teacher” and bell hook’s “Teaching to Transgress”. If you don’t care for these, that’s fine, I’ve categorized them with the tag “ADED 4P91” so you can choose to ┬áignore them in your feed. I suspect I’ll try to make sense of how this, and everything else fits with education technology. Maybe it will all make sense, or maybe it will cloud the issue. The course is titled “Power and Pedagogy”, which is ultimately what I feel drove me from teaching. What right do I have to tell other people what the best way to learn something is?

Brookfield writes a lot about authenticity and the anxiety of teaching in the first chapter of his book. While I understand why one would want to stress the “authentic”, we all perform when we teach (unless we are terrible teachers), leading to what I always question as an “unauthentic experience”. We make split second choices to share, or not share, what we think is appropriate, based on what we sense, or even worse what we know. That reinforces the power structure that is explicit, and implicit in classrooms around the world. It’s also manipulative, because we as teachers are selective about how the course is run, conducted and all the other minutia we engage in. Teaching is ultimately a manipulative act, to get students, or learners, to do things that they might not do on their own.

hooks on the other hand delves into a more personal exploration about her teaching – which I empathized with. I wonder if the crux of my own personal feelings of what it means to be a teacher; which often have undertones of bettering one’s self, climbing social ladders, as a way of escaping poverty or other societal problems, collide with how hooks feels about teaching. I wonder if I have the same crisis of faith every time my assumptions are wrong – much like the incident with hooks and her student who wanted to pledge to a fraternity.

Brookfield spends a lot of time talking about assumptions as well, and breaks them down to their roots and does a great job illustrating how these assumptions set us down the wrong path. I get that assumptions about learners are short cuts we shouldn’t take, but in the way education is structured, how can we afford to spend the kind of time needed to truly understand our students?

Assumptions, when wrong can be a catalyst for change. I wonder if that’s the subtext of both chapters this week?

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