Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pedagogical Framework

I am only marginally familiar with Vygotsky; his theory emerged in a second language acquisition course that I took at City College. Freire appeared in another completely unrelated course, and our class struggled with his work and only scratched its surface. Despite all this, I still manage to feel invested in these particular frameworks.

First, our curriculum is based on PCAP’s, which requires its students to learn basic skills through context (please forgive me if I misrepresent PCAP’s work, Wynne). The material is career oriented, so its students are working on multiple units focused on college, health care, or business (and working on multiple literacies as well). They are building up their reading strategies and problem solving skills by looking at materials that are meaningful to them. The students often collaborate with other students with similar goals and focus. I find that these collaborative activities are the more beneficial interactions. I sometimes wish that I had been taught in this way.

Second, we definitely try to meet students “where they are at.” We build off their experiences, using their language to generate a concept of the content material and activities that we practice. They often define what they are doing before we contribute our input to their definitions. I think this fits Freire’s critical pedagogy. I suppose we are seeing if our worldviews are commensurable.  This requires them to make text-to-self and text-to-world connections when reading, which I hope also helps them with their reading strategies and critical thought. We also require them to reflect on this practice through writing.

I might be confusing this with constructivist pedagogy, but I believe there are bridges that can be built between each framework. 

Since my cohort is all-male, I hope to fit in a feminist framework. Some of the stuff they say makes me shiver. I have no idea how to do this. It probably fits in with Frierie's critical pedagogy.

I am interested in gaining greater insight into these Vygostsky and Freirian frameworks as well as learning more about Bloom’s taxonomy and Dewey’s Cycle of Inquiry.

I hope that through Web 2.0 they can create and share with the larger community and get some valuable feedback. I hope to break them out of a self-conscious cycle and help them become active participants and negotiators instead of passive receivers or occupants of academia. Also, I find that it is very difficult to coax my cohort into reflecting on their own thinking particularly when it comes to math. They are very self-conscious about this (writing too!), so I hope they can gain by lurking.



  1. No need to be afraid of feminist frameworks. We feminists are actually pretty cool people and our theories and frameworks are quite inclusive, diverse, and open. That being said, I think one of the things most feminist theories (whether pedagogical, psychological, cinematic, rhetorical, or whatever) hope to engage readers/students/scholars where they are to then help them get to where they need or want to be. We also encourage finding common ground as a jumping-off place from which to build and learn from each other. We enjoy building bridges. Well... most of us do.

    There are certainly theorists and scholars who are more interested in blaming, alienating, and burning bridges, though they tend to thrive in very small communities of scholarship and pedagogy. I was initially ostracized from the Feminist & Women's Studies Division of the National Communication Association because I didn't (and still don't) play "victim" feminism. I always figured that the women's movements were efforts to empower women, so scholarship should be about embracing that approach and finding ways to empower women and other marginalized groups rather than focusing on and thus reinforcing victimization. How dare I! But I persisted, and my scholarship has since garnered favorable reviews.

    I take this same approach in teaching, in how I approach teaching, and in how I interact with students. I try to empower my students by first establishing common ground and focusing on what they already know. Once they realize their knowledge and experience has been validated and celebrated, I find they are much more willing to build upon that foundation, to realize that there is still much to learn. I also reinforce the fact that I have as much to learn from them as they can learn from me (if they want to) because we all have different experiences, beliefs, worldviews, etc., and I'm always open to learning from others. This creates a kind of shared learning that, I think, is what you're hinting at in your pedagogical approach. Or I could be completely wrong. Wouldn't be the first time. And I'm not afraid to be wrong. It's how I learn. :)

  2. I was raised on anti-hierarchy and anti-hegemony group of feminism, but I find that bridge building can't stop the offesive language/action. I'm sure the academic and quotidian languages won't end it either: most of it refuses the equity and equality of a diversity people with a variety of differences. Sometimes the grammar of oppression is deeply engrained in these languages: they are the mainstreamed privileged languages of our society: this is where they (we) are. It's a dangerous place to remind them, a group of fathers, that someday their daughters will be spoken about in the same way that they speak of other females. Often tried, often rebutted with a lot of unnecessary vim. And who can blame them; who am I to tell them their language is violent? Therefore, I feel a language outside of this grammar is required because the master's language is not the tool that will undo the master's house. And I don't have that language. And it's certainly not within my experience either. I hope that makes sense.

    You are not wrong about my pedagogical approaches, but I don't feel like yours and what Freirie or Dewey describe are far from each other. For me, each of the more formally explained pedagogical frameworks proves useful when I need to step back and reflect on whether or not the students goals and objectives are being achieved; it's important for me to reflect and ask, "Did I miss something? Is this lesson useful? Am I doing things that help them?" Maybe this is because I am new. And, for me, the frameworks do share many aspects with my approach or PCAP approaches. Being relatively new at teaching, I initially thought it should all be intuitive; I feel very at home in conversation with my fellows, but such familiarity makes me anxious.

    1. Hi, Daryl,
      I love your openness to reflection. If it's because you are new, than I hope you keep that "beginners" perspective. I hope you keep it new, because your questioning, your reflection is the best model for your students. You are seeing connections in frameworks and how they can apply in your specific situation. Brilliant. Intrigued by your sense that it "should all be intuitive," your conversations with your fellows--but how this familiarity makes you anxious.