Both the hooks and Brookfield readings looked at how critical reflection changes teaching and learning practices. I don’t know if anything I’ve read this past week changes much for me – I have always been hypercritical of my own work (sometimes to my own detriment). I recognize that being hypercritical and reflecting critically are two different things though.
If we look at Friere’s work, and his dialogue between objectivity and subjectivity (within the first chapter in Pedagogy of the Oppressed) – as teachers we should strive for that middle ground. I think the only vehicle that gets us into that middle ground is the ability to reflect and think about other perspectives. The subjectivity of experience and the objectivity of best practices make us the best we can be. I have often played devil’s advocate, mainly in an attempt to think about potential arguments against my position. In essence this is negotiating that middle ground between objectivity and subjectivity. The mere act of thinking about how one could do something better is critical (unless of course you’re so full of hubris that you think you couldn’t do it better).
This week I read chapters 3 and 4 from bell hooks’ “Teaching to Transgress” and chapter 3 from Stephen Brookfield’s “Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher”. bell hooks dealt with multicultural teaching and a conversation with herself examining her readings of and influence by Paolo Friere. Brookfield wrote about using autobiography as a starting point for questioning your own assumptions.
Both authors used these chapters to inform me about themselves, as any good reflective process starts with. We have to know ourselves to know our limits, reasoning, purpose and shortcomings.
hooks touched on an interesting point, one that I have heard before, in that she questions herself about Friere’s use of sexist language (and moreso his staunch lack of revision in subsequent editions). She says “I never wish to see a critique of the blind spot overshadow anyone’s…capacity to learn from the insights. ” It’s an interesting position to take. The twenty year old me is outraged with the inconsistencies of such a position, but the forty year old me understands that we all are (too) human and everything has weaknesses and blind spots. It’s a bit of a difficult reconciliation, and certainly speaks to me because I missed the male pronouns in Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In my defense, I did read Pedagogy of Hope first, and returned to it more than Friere’s Oppressed. I vaguely recall from the introduction of Hope that there was some mention and explanation – which would’ve occurred after hooks would’ve published this book. Maybe I just internalized and accepted that Friere and I were speaking as one?
The sessions so far have all pointed that you need to know yourself (as much as one can know themselves at their current age), identify your potential blind spots, expose them. I guess going forward it will deal with strategies to minimize their effect on the class.