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…….