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Teachers as pedagogues, intellectuals and activists for promoting social justice through education
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Educational Studies (from 2013).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4817-0135
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to investigate how teachers prepare themselves to play their role of developing their students critical thinking to understand the injustice and power relations in their society. The emphasis is on teachers as subjects and their role on preparing “critical citizens” (Moyo, 2013) that will promote democracy and social justice. 

Teachers are expected to work with different functions of education such as qualifications, socialization and subjectification (Biesta, 2015). Kincheloe (2008) describe teachers in a critical context as follows:

Teachers working in a critical context rebel against the view of practitioners as information deliverers, as deskilled messengers who uncritically pass along a canned curriculum. Highly skilled scholarly teachers research their students and their communities and analyse the curricular topics they are expected to cover. In light of such inquiry, these teachers develop a course of study that understands subject matter and academic skills in relation to where their students come from and the needs they bring to school…  (Kincheloe 2008, 118).  

My attempt to understand the role of teachers is inspired by critical pedagogy. According to this perspective, teachers who are willing to give room for their students and encourage them to be critical citizens are considered “problem posing educators” (Freire, 1970), “radical teachers” (Giroux, 1983), “public intellectuals” (Giroux, 2011), etc. According to Freire (1970) these teachers recognize the role of “teacher-student” and “student-teacher”; they teach their students and they are also ready to learn through their students´ reflections and from their life experiences. 

These teachers in addition to their good theoretical understanding are also activists in their society. Through participation in organizations such as teachers´ unions, local cultural and social associations they are well informed about the current issues and demands of their society.

In their classrooms, together with their students through “generative themes” (Freire, 1970) raises issues that are not only about school subjects but also relevant to the society at large. By using “dialogic metod” (Ibid., Shor & Freire,1987) they gradually approach the issues from different angels; this enable them to see inequalities and injustice some sectors of the society are experiencing. Beyond understanding, in practice they work on promoting democracy and social justice.  

I would like to give two examples from the literature I reviewed. The first one is about an American high school teacher, who brought a leather soccer ball and put it in front of his students of Global Studies. He asked them to write anything about the ball and he told them they are allowed go to the front touch it and investigate it as they want. They wrote about it from different perspectives but all of them missed the text in small letters on the ball, that says Made in Pakistan. When the teacher showed them that, they started wondering why it was made in Pakistan, who produced it, how was the working condition for those who produced it, etc. This lead them to critically reflect and discuss even other issues related to materials produced abroad and the exploitative relations involved (Smyth, 2011). 

The second example is about students from poor farmer families in Tuscany region in Italy. They were helped by their teacher, Don Lorenzo Milani to be aware of their underclass non-privileged position in their society and their school. Eight pupils from the school, Barbiana school wrote a book titled, Letter to A Teacher (Lettera). In their book, they criticized the school system for failing them and the privilege middle class children received in their expense (Mayo, 2013). 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
Teachers, pedagogues, intellectuals, activists, critical citizen, critical pedagogy
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-68959OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-68959DiVA, id: diva2:1244498
Conference
ECER 2018: Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research? 4-7 september, 2018. Bolzano.
Available from: 2018-09-01 Created: 2018-09-01 Last updated: 2019-06-03Bibliographically approved

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Abraham, Getahun Yacob

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