This week I read chapter 5 of both bell hooks’ “Teaching to Trangress” and Stephen Brookfield’s “Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher”. hooks delved into the idea of theoryas a liberatory practice (which seems logical to me, one needs a framework to build an identity), whereas Brookfield covered his process for teaching in a democratic classroom. The course uses the term critical distance for these two paired concepts, which to me is problematic. It’s putting a label that doesn’t fit well on an idea that is useful. The idea, as I see it, is that instructors have a position in the classroom that no matter what they do to break down those barriers, instructors still will be set apart by virtue of what they know. People will still look to them as an authority on the subject. That distance between the students and instructors can be shrunk, but never eliminated.
A lot of the ideas Brookfield talks about are just principles of good communication – know your audience, check your assumptions about that audience, and refine your message. The transparency angle is key in that process, if people understand why they are doing something, they are much more understanding about engaging in it – even if it is unfamiliar. Of course, that’s building trust.