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Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed

June 22, 2010

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Marking the first anniversary of the final phase of my education program (practicum ended on June 19th, 2009, and my first class of summer session was the following Monday) I have finally got around to reading the one book most professors considered a must for all educators. While one would hope that just by reading this book, anyone could become a better teacher, it is really more instructions on becoming a revolutionary. The introduction, by Freire’s friend Donaldo Macedo, was excellent for preparing me for the many misinterpretations the Pedagogy of the Oppressed has endured over the years, especially mentioning the linguistic distortions during the first Gulf War. While Macedo strives to show the clarity of Freire’s work, I must admit I found it a little daunting to follow all of his ideas.

The main points which I can recall from my first reading are: the fear of freedom that keeps the oppressed under the thumb of the oppressors, the need for dialogic praxis as opposed to “banking” education and how generative themes are best used by teacher-students and student-teachers. Knowing how to apply these concepts in the various classrooms I visit will be the next challenge for me as a teacher on call, but knowing that I can still further my education while working in the same field is a step in the right direction. Over the past year, I have become involved with the Teachers Federation, attended meetings and learned more about the need for social justice in the schools and the union itself. It would be very manipulative of me to become involved for my own advancement, with the sense of false generosity Freire writes about, yet I do not feel that I embody the cultural synthesis required. At least knowing that there are ways to improve is something to look forward to when school starts up again.

While many of my professors mentioned this book in lectures, it was never a required reading, and now I understand how universities attempt to be transformative places, yet are placed in the elite framework so that even the teachers they produce are not fully free from oppressive leanings. Perhaps this is largely due to the numerous North American texts which were required, and it becomes very apparent, without Freire even mentioning it, that Canada and the United States have become the world leaders in “banking” (and look at the mess this has created, economically and environmentally speaking). It was very refreshing to read someone genuinely concerned with social justice, writing about experiences mostly in South America. The 30th anniversary edition of this transformative book must have met with much objection in North America, but nevertheless must have gained lots of support at the grassroots level. Can’t wait to return to the text for another read.

The Virtual Globe

June 2, 2010

In preparation for my graduate studies, I began to wonder which technologies will be needed the most in education.  My UBC application looked at the DGlobe, a fictional device for the classrooms designed by the author Douglas Coupland in jPod, and while I don’t know if I can amass the same resources as he proposed to actually create such a device, I began to think what applications could (and should) be created.  It suddenly came to me… the Virtual Globe.

I know, it sounds a little derivative, but instead of satellite cartography this device will recreate the world inside the Globe Theatre, famed for mounting most of the complete works of Shakespeare.  It really can’t be too hard to design: there are numerous sketches and floor plans of the building, the stage and audience could be full of Weta-ed players and patrons, and most importantly, we have the complete works of William Shakespeare, already part of most high school curricula.  What needs to be done, and I am willing to commit some serious academic time to this project, is combine all these elements to give students a 360° view of what happened inside this historical site.

I can imagine what some of the critiques of the Virtual Globe may be, and have come up with some responses.  First of all, the Globe has already been rebuilt, and the plays of Shakespeare are frequently performed around the world.  There is no reason to cancel the school field trip out to see such a performance, even for those lucky enough to make the trip to London.  However, there will be an ease of access, brought right into the classroom, of any and all of the plays without the cost and organizational challenges of such field trips.  Plus you have all the features common to most DVDs: pause, rewind, zoom and maybe even commentary tracks.  Secondly, the complete works are already in print, widely obtainable and would promote literacy better than any video or virtual reality could.  Not to knock the time-honoured tradition of reading a book, but one must also consider that the original author never intended his (or her as some scholars have put forward) works to be read by anyone but the actors.  No performance of the plays, whether on stage, on film or this proposed virtual reality will ever be able to accurately recreate the experience of being in late 16th century London.  However, just as Shakespeare’s contemporaries and fellow King’s Men John Heminges and Henry Condell compiled the collected works for the use of future generations, perhaps this sort of virtual application was exactly what they wanted, all those years ago.  Finally, I suspect many other faults could be found for having such technology brought into the classrooms, teachers who will find it difficult and unwieldy to use, and detractors who would claim the whole idea is doomed to fail.  In response to all of the above, to borrow the lines from Shakespeare: “screw your courage to the sticking place, and we’ll not fail.”

The 1998 Oscar-winning film Shakespeare in Love showed us the insides of the Rose and the Curtain up-close with all the comings and goings of the players putting on a play.  Students should be allowed access through the Virtual Globe to explore the plays, the people and the traditions this historic site has provided the world.

Application sent

May 14, 2010

How to apply

Today I completed and sent off my on-line application for the Masters in Educational Technology, which will be an on-line course over the next five to ten years!  I understand something of the perils of academic inflation, and perhaps by the time I get my masters most jobs in education will require a PhD or higher (seems funny, but the educational training has already undergone so many changes from in the last ten years).  It is a field of study I have had an interest in since 2007, and now the time may be ripe for further studies.  Hopefully in a few months from now my blogroll will have a couple more scholarly links to check out.

Anniversary

April 23, 2010

Here is a card designed by my wonderful wife to celebrate our third anniversary.  The photo was taken downtown, by the Burrard Street Station, moments before entering the Hyatt Regency to attend the BCTF annual general meeting.  Thank you so much, Yuko, for being there with me, and for being my lovely wife.  Happy anniversary, my love!  ❤ ❤ ❤

Rally this Weekend

April 7, 2010

If you are downtown on Saturday April 10th and in the neighbourhood of the Art Gallery, come meet the ralliers and give us your support.  Educators and other concerned groups will be out to show the provincial government that  even with lower and lower voters in elections (only about 50 % of British Columbians went to the polling stations last May) we all still have  a voice, and we shall be heard.  Find out more information about the Rally for a Better BC here: www.betterbc.org and I look forward to seeing you around noon this Saturday!

Essay Proofreading Services

April 1, 2010

As many TOC are anticipating a slowdown with the number of calls per week (not that there have been many calls hitherto), I have put an ad on Craig’s List for Essay Proofreading.  Here is the link: http://vancouver.en.craigslist.ca/van/wet/1671853522.html.

Welcome to the Blog

March 31, 2010

This site is intended to give teacher and employers in the education field a feel for what my day-to-day experiences are as a Teacher On Call as well as a Tutor.  To protect the identity of students and others, no names will be posted.