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Thinking in a crisis

I don’t know if it is guilt, or a feeling of inadequacy, or fear – probably all three. But having lived in a country where critical thinking, and more particularly critical writing or speaking, could land you in prison or worse, I’m inclined to consider critical thinking very carefully and tend to err on the side of caution more often than not.

Is critical pedagogy difficult? That wasn’t the issue – it wasn’t only difficult, it was damned dangerous: not WHAT I was trying to teach but THAT I was trying to do it in the first place. Any criticism of the regime, however frivolous, was treated with a severity that gave one lots of pause; mentioning a name with so much as rising intonation could be read as subversive and “being followed” had far more more sinister repurcussions than the odd “retweet”. When people “fell” from the fifth floor while being questioned for criticising the language of instruction in schools; when children “went missing” because they demanded to be taught in their mother tongue; when detention without trial was commonplace for “educational trouble makers”, trust me, self-preservation and good old-fashioned cowardice kept me from any serious attempt at a critical pedagogy. And I avow that all but the most single-minded and resolute or those who have nothing to lose would brazen out their particular strand of critical pedagogy in the face of real and present danger.(Would you rather BE Julian Assange, or talking about him?)  It is easy to indulge in the call for “education for change”  or a critical pedagogy when the worst that can happen is a huffy footstamp from some uptight corner of the establishment. But when you risk everything – including your life – to proclaim loud and clear what it is that you wish would change or how you propose to change it,  it is perhaps politic  just to haul out the syllabus and get on with it – hoping that HOW you do it may light the smallest flame, or awaken the tiniest idea.

But enough of that. In today’s world of surging globalisation, cascades of information, unstoppable development in technology and seemingly endless options, making change a way of life rather than something devoutly to be wished, perhaps a new type of critical pedagogy can be entertained:  one which promotes real critical thinking when it comes to selecting and managing information; one which embraces the new, but not wantonly, and one that, probably most importantly, encourages ever more mindfulness (see Jeremy Comfort  http://tinyurl.com/39dv5x6    and  Peter Franklin  http://tinyurl.com/2eoe4ls ).

This was supposed to be a dogme post – ah well…….

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4 responses »

  1. Superb. It makes my post on courage very lame indeed.

    Reply
  2. Hi David

    Thank you so much. It was a scary time, but courage is a strange thing. Sometimes I did just say, “The hell with it,” and teach critically. Waiting for the knock at the door gets easier the more you do it.

    Today, living in a country where freedom of speech is more or less a given, I have held THINGS up for examination and occasionally lambasted them purely because they are “sacred cows”. And this, as you have also expressed, is scary because – and I don’t know if you have found this too – but I have found that criticising or speaking out against some THING often results in a deluge of personal attacks. I have never, to my knowledge anyway, made critical remarks about anyONE, but have been on the receiving end of a fair number of personal attacks because I have dared to question “the establishment.”

    You too have shown courage in the things you have done. A small voice cryng in the wilderness, or a small boy asking for more demands an exposure of the soul which is way more vulnerable than the body and takes much longer to heal.

    Candy

    Reply
  3. Ah, but this is what I love about dogme – beit dogme teaching, dogme teacher-training or dogme blogging… one never knows exactly where it might lead.

    Very moving post!

    K

    Reply

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