ADED 4P91 – Week 7 “Critical Conversations and Class”

This week we read chapter 7 in bell hooks “Teaching to Transgress” and chapter 12 in Brookfield’s “Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher”.

I felt, for once, that hooks’ book was tougher to get through than Brookfield’s – maybe it was because we’re in the middle of testing some changes to undergraduate education at my institution; one of which is the start of a learning portfolio program. This program really values critical reflection, which aligns perfectly with what Brookfield is talking about in his chapter. The sorts of strategies – well considered – are intriguing to examine and imagine how that might take place in my institution. It was also interesting to read Brookfield write about the Devil’s Advocate approach to critical thinking – which is something I do quite often in workshops that I deliver. Often I off-handedly mention the downside to some technology. I know some people I have worked with don’t like my approach – in fact I question it sometimes too – but I feel it would be intellectually dishonest for me not to mention the potential problems.

I often struggle because I deliver training that is very guided, and I often wonder if it stifles creativity, askance views of commonly used technology, dictates a way of thinking around technology’s role in the classroom… lots of questions. I don’t really have time, or to be honest, energy to break down what I do to really investigate these things. It would be too much, because there’s too many ways for it to go wrong. Without having me as a knowledge expert, I sabotage much of what I do because I speak from authority. How can someone call me with confidence and ask me how to fix something if they don’t trust that I know more about the system than they do?

These crises of faith (an odd statement when dealing primarily with technology) come far too frequently. Maybe it’s time to do something else? I guess I’ll continue to struggle.

Brookfield provides some guidance, and I recognize that the answers to my questions will only come from within. It’s useful to know that others struggle with this – some constantly, some persistently. And those struggles ultimately come from the responsibility that we take on ourselves, the roles we assume and feel we need to play. In some senses, it seems like an easy out to say that the system forces us into these roles.

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