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From educational pragmatism to critical literacy pedagogy: transformations in teaching practices Bessie Mitsikopoulou Faculty of English Studies, University.

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Παρουσίαση με θέμα: "From educational pragmatism to critical literacy pedagogy: transformations in teaching practices Bessie Mitsikopoulou Faculty of English Studies, University."— Μεταγράφημα παρουσίασης:

1 From educational pragmatism to critical literacy pedagogy: transformations in teaching practices Bessie Mitsikopoulou Faculty of English Studies, University of Athens English Literacy Coordinator, Second Chance Schools

2 What is educational pragmatism? The new educational pragmatism embraces a technical training without political analysis, because such analyses upset the smoothness of educational technicism… [it] urges us not to burden students with political thoughts and to leave them alone so that they can best focus on their technical training. To the educational pragmatist, other social and critical preoccupations represent not just a waste of time but a real obstacle in their process of skills banking. (Paulo Freire 2006).

3 Pragmatism Reduces human problems to the level of technical difficulties and solutions Is often defined as the only rational choice (Chua 1983, 39)

4 “Vulgar” and “Critical” Pragmatism Cherryholmes (1988) (a) “vulgar pragmatism” accepts unquestionably explicit and implicit standards, conventions, rules and discourse practices that we find around us is therefore socially reproductive, reproducing accepted meanings and conventional ways of doing things places emphasis on practice and separates it from theory for the sake of “making things work better” promotes local ideologies as global, and past ideologies as present and future (b) “critical pragmatism” starts from the premise that our standards, beliefs, values, guiding texts, and discourse practices themselves require evaluation and appraisal” it therefore brings a sense of crisis to our choices

5 Pragmatism in English Language Teaching Pennycook (1997) A technical training which ignores sociocultural factors Focus on the training of students on specific language skills Fragmentation of knowledge which lacks contextual understanding Difficult for students to make connections between obtained knowledge and their lived experience => Yet, teachers’ day-to-day decisions in the English classroom have been found to both shape and be shaped by the broader sociopolitical orders outside the classroom (Auerbach 1995, Benesch 1996, Canagarajah 1993, Peirce & Stein 1995) Assumption Much of ELT operates on the pragmatist paradigm and has readily available a discourse of pragmatism.

6 Towards a “critical pragmatism” Pennycook (1997: 266) “If we are to encourage research that is pragmatic in the sense of looking at the everyday contexts of teaching, I would argue that this should be a critical, rather than a vulgar pragmatism, and insist that while we do have to get on with our teaching, we also have to think very seriously about the broader implications of everything we do.”

7 Critical literacy In a critical or emancipatory literacy pedagogy students become knowledgeable about their histories, their experiences, and the culture of their everyday environments. In addition, they must also become able to discern the dominant culture’s codes and signifiers in order to escape their own environments. In an educational context shaped by a critical literacy, teachers must constantly teach a dual curriculum: a)A curriculum that empowers students to make sense of their everyday life, and b)A curriculum which enables students to obtain the tools for mobility valued in the dominant culture. (Macedo, 2006: xiii)

8 Aims of the paper (a) to explore the effects and the changes brought about in teachers’ perceptions of their work when they move away from a pragmatic paradigm towards a critical literacy pedagogy b) to discuss the transformations in the English teachers’ teaching practices It will be argued that the identified changes constitute integral elements towards an emancipatory critical literacy.

9 Data Work in progress Interviews and questionnaires with English language teachers working at Second Chance Schools (SDE) in Greece. My own interpretation as a participant from the position of coordinator of English literacy at SDE.

10 The example of Second Chance Schools 48 schools all over Greece Alternative schools which aim to provide a ‘second chance’ using innovative methods: a pedagogy of multilitacies is officially employed (subjects: English literacy, mathematical literacy, etc) The profile of the students at SDE Target group: adults, who have not completed their basic education Many students work, have families, and various responsibilities They have their own beliefs, values, views

11 1a) In what ways have your teaching practices changed since you moved to SDE? English in the typical school context: not a popular subject => negative impact on the English language teacher. English in SDE: the most popular subject (together with IT) => positive impact on the English language teacher. BEFORE in typical schoolsNOW in SDE Teaching English Follow pre-specified course aims and objectives according to the level of students (e.g. demoticon, gymnasium, lyceum) Teach English in the context of a pedagogy of multiliteracies Flexible programme Aims: defined by both teachers and students together => teacher activated Aims of the course

12 1c) In what ways have your teaching practices changed since you moved to SDE? Follow closely a specific curriculum with specific content; restrictions as to what to teach; time pressure to cover curriculum content. Restrictions as to what to teach; time pressure to cover curriculum content The curriculum outlines a general framework with suggested themes and content which each teacher is invited to adapt to her/his classes. Flexibility to move freely with content; not pressed by the curriculum to cover specific content BEFORE in typical schoolsNOW in SDE Curriculum Teacher-centered pedagogy: traditional teaching not based on students’ experience of the world – only occasionally drawn on it Learner-centered pedagogy: Experience learning which systematically draw upon the students’ experience and knowledge of the world

13 1d) In what ways have your teaching practices changed since you moved to SDE? Despite localization, most EFL textbooks focus on the life of middle-class students in Anglophone countries. Design tasks which are in some ways related to the everyday life of the students. Bring the outside world into the classroom. Schools with different identities: multicultural schools, schools in tourist places, SDE in prisons, etc. BEFORE in typical schoolsNOW in SDE Curriculum Emphasis on school genres.Familiarize students with genres in English they are likely to meet in their everyday life. E.g. - forms to complete for online booking, boarding card, departures/arrivals board - labels of medicines

14 1e) In what ways have your teaching practices changed since you moved to SDE? Select a textbook from the market and follow it closely Do not follow a specific textbook; choose materials from several different sources; Ts develop their own teaching materials Coursework primarily conducted through project work BEFORE in typical schoolsNOW in SDE Materials Have a relatively small portfolio with teaching materials Ts have a relatively big portfolio with teaching materials they develop and use

15 1e) In what ways have your teaching practices changed since you moved to SDE? Teacher alone with students in class Frequent co-teachings with more than one teachers working together (διαθεματικές συνδιδασκαλίες, εργαστήρια, σχέδια δράσης) BEFORE in typical schoolsNOW in SDE Working with colleagues No counseling nor psychological support for the students There is counseling and support by a psychologist and a career consultant

16 1g) In what ways have your teaching practices changed since you moved to SDE? Occasional in-service seminarsTeachers at SDE regularly attend two-day in-service seminars every year which introduce them to the philosophy of SDE schools and the ways to teach English literacy to the specific student body BEFORE in typical schoolsNOW in SDE Teacher education Evaluating students with grades (1-10, 1-20 scales) Descriptive evaluation Expectations according to the starting point of each student Student evaluation Written exams periodically and at the end Portfolio

17 1i) In what ways have your teaching practices changed since you moved to SDE? Behavioural problems on the part of the students brought tension in the classroom. A relatively homogenous level of literacy Do not have to deal with behavioural problems, smooth teaching Yet other problems: - tired students - students with low self-esteem and claim they “cannot make it” - students who are practically illiterate - students with memory problems BEFORE in typical schoolsNOW in SDE Class management Atmosphere in class: competitiveTeam spirit StrictnessNegotiation

18 1j) In what ways have your teaching practices changed since you moved to SDE? Seating arrangement: in rows watching the teacher => implies a teacher-centered pedagogy Seating arrangement: in circle =>a first step towards a student- centered pedagogy BEFORE in typical schoolsNOW in SDE Class management As a teacher put it: Είμαι ελεύθερη να σχεδιάζω, να επινοώ, να πειραματίζομαι και να μεταμορφώνω τη διδασκαλία της γλώσσας σε βιωματικό περιβάλλον. Έγινε πιο ζωντανή, πιο παραστατική η μεθοδολογική μου προσέγγιση. Έχω φύγει από τα coursebooks, στηρίζομαι αποκλειστικά σε επικοινωνιακές μεθόδους. Οι θεματικές ενότητες συναποφασίζονται με τους εκπαιδευόμενους και αυτό είναι πραγματικά πολύτιμο καθώς δεν πρόκειτα να ξαναζήσω μια τέτοια διδακτική εμπειρία. Το κυριότερο όμως όλων είναι πως η πρόκληση του να δουλεύεις με ενήλικες έχει ενεργοποιήσει στρατηγικές μεθόδους που δεν φανταζόμουν πως διέθετα. (SDE Kalamatas)

19 2) In what ways has the move from a typical school to SDE affected how you perceive your work as an English teacher? I feel that my students respect me and what I offer them more. At the end of each hour they thank me. I feel that part of my job is now to enhance their self-esteem. I feel that I address the personal needs of each student separately. I need to use more my imagination I have different expectations from each one of the students depending on their potential. I feel that what is taking place in the English literacy classroom is part of social interaction. I realize the importance of mutual trust among students and teachers. I feel that learning is a kind of experience process. “Αισθάνομαι ως σύμβουλος-συνοδοιπόρος”

20 2) In what ways has the move from a typical school to SDE affected how you perceive your work as an English teacher? Teacher Responses Η μετάβαση αυτή με έχει μετατρέψει από απλό μεταφορέα γνώσεων στην Αγγλική γλώσσα σε εμψυχώτρια και διαπραγματεύτρια. Η αλληλοεπίδραση με τους εκπαιδευόμενους με βελτίωσε σαν εκπαιδεύτρια γιατί μέσα από τον διάλογο και την ομαδοσυνεργατική δεν παύω να μαθαίνω κάτι καινούργιο για την διαδικασία της διδασκαλίας. H ευελιξία που μου παρέχεται να έχω την δυνατότητα να συνεργάζομαι τόσο στενά με τους εκπαιδευόμενους για τον σχεδιασμό δραστηριοτήτων ή σειράς μαθημάτων, επισκέψεων κ.λ.π. προσαρμοσμένες στις εκάστοτε ανάγκες τους, με κάνει να αισθάνομαι ότι πραγματικά συμβάλλω στην διαμόρφωση συμπεριφορών και στάσεων που θα βοηθήσουν τα άτομα αυτά να ανταποκρίνονται αποτελεσματικά σε διάφορες επικοινωνιακές περιστάσεις στην Αγγλική γλώσσα σε ένα μεταβαλλόμενο πολυπολιτισμικό περιβάλλον.

21 3) Which do you think are the main aims of English literacy at SDE? In the context of a critical pedagogy: (a) A curriculum that empowers students to make sense of their everyday life To develop basic literacy in the English language (skills, knowledges, discourses) which “will be telling in their life” in specific sociocultural contexts (e.g. local community: tourist, traditional in-land, multicultural schools, etc) To come into contact with a variety of genres they are likely to meet in their everyday life (e.g. labels, signs, computer and internet instructions, etc.) To develop basic communication skills in English To develop meta-cognitive skills

22 3) Which do you think are the main aims of English literacy at SDE? In the context of a critical pedagogy: (b) A curriculum that enables students to obtain the tools for mobility valued in the dominant culture. To learn how to learn, and to focus less on what to learn To make students feel active European citizens. To come into contact with a dominant language and to build a European identity. To offer them an additional job qualification. To improve themselves To realize the role of English in today’s world and to familiarize them with the culture of Anglophone nations.

23 A teaching practice in the agenda of English teachers at SDE Needs Analysis a system of aquiring information about the target situation as the basis for designing curricula and materials a comprehensive account of linguistic items, affective and cognitive factors in an attempt to develop a thorough understanding of what students know and do not know describes what is expected of students, not what might happen if their wishes were elicited and acted on Assumes that students will fulfill, not question, target situation requirements

24 What is rights analysis? Benesch (1999) “the continued uncritical use of needs analysis … must be problematized and balanced with analysis that makes room for student dissent and activism” (108) RIGHTS ANALYSIS By considering rights in addition to needs, wants, lacks, Benesch shifts the attention from the requirements to the possibility for engagement and change Rights: not a set of pre-existing demands but a conceptual framework for questions about authority, control, participation and resistance It does not assume that students are entitled to certain rights or that they should engage in particular types of activities; it assumes that the possibility for engagement exists It highlights power relations and theorizes students as potential active participants rather than compliant subjects

25 Needs and Rights analysis (Benesch 1999) A descriptive approach to the target situation A critical approach to the target situation where the teacher aims to transform existing conditions to encourage student engagement Needs analysisRights analysis Presents students’ experience from an institutional perspective and assumes student compliance with course requirements It is a complex discovery of what is possible, desirable, and beneficial at a certain moment with a particular group of students It reveals possibilities for change

26 Dialectical relationship of needs and rights Rights analysis does not come to replace needs analysis. A dialectical relationship between the two allows us to take into account both the requirements and dissent. “The starting point can be the institutional requirements but a vision of student engagement can provide the momentum for change. This dual focus of compliance and resistance allows students to choose which aspects of the course they want to accept and which they want to challenge” (Benesch 1999: ) The combined use of needs and rights analysis can thus be seen as a step towards critical pedagogy

27 Resistances to critical pedagogy at institutional level (e.g. school principal) “Don’t we need a final exam to see what these students have learnt? Since we are called a school, we should have ‘proper’ formal ways of evaluating students” “When we spend a lot of our time working through projects, we may not be able to cover all “content” they the students will ‘need’” at individual teacher level “I first teach them some things I consider important, things they will need to learn, and then ask them what they want to do” (underlying assumption: I, the teacher, know what they need)

28 Responses to counter arguments at institutional level (e.g. school principal) “Introducing formal exams would be like taking a practice from a typical school and placing it in an alternative school. It doesn’t belong here”. (Alternative practice: student portfolio, descriptive evaluation) at individual teacher level “I don’t want to tell them things; I want to ask them to try to guess drawing on their experience as adults”

29 Transformation at work: A closing comment Πριν έρθω στα ΣΔΕ περνούσα πολλές ώρες διαβάζοντας. Τώρα κάθομαι και σκέφτομαι με τις ώρες. (A teacher of English literacy)

30 Bibliography - On Pragmatism Allison, D. (1996) Pragmatist discourse and English for academic purposes. English for Specific Purposes 15(2): Benesch, S. (1993) ESL, ideology and the politics of pragmatism. TESOL Quarterly 27(4): Cherryholmes, C. (1988) Power and criticisms: Poststructural investigations in education. NY: Teachers College Press. Chua, B.-H. (1983) Re-opening ideological discussion in Singapore: A new theoretical discussion. Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science 11(2):

31 Bibliography – On critical pedagogy Auerbach, E. (1995) The politics of the ESL classrooms: Issues of power in pedagogical choices. In J. Tollefson (ed.) Power and inequality in language education. NY: CUP Benesch, S. (1996) Needs analysis and curriculum development in EAP: An example of a critical approach. TESOL Quarterly 30(4): Canagarajah, A.S. (1993) Critical ethnography of a Sri Lankan classroom: ambiguities in student opposition to reproduction through ESOL. TESOL Quarterly 27(4): Freire, P. (2006) Foreword to Literacies of Power. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press. Macedo, M. (2006) Literacies of power. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press. Pennycook, A Vulgar pragmatism, critical pragmatism, and EAP. English for Specific Purposes 16 (4): Peirce, B.N. & Stein P. (1995) Why the “Monkeys passage” bombed: texts, genres and teaching. Harvard Educational Review 65(1):50-65.

32 Bibliography – English Literacy at SDE Μητσικοπούλου, Β. & Σακελλίου-Schultz, L Γραμματισμός στην Αγγλική Γλώσσα: Πρόγραμμα Σπουδών, Μεθοδολογικές Προτάσεις, Εκπαιδευτικό Υλικό για τα Σχολεία Δεύτερης Ευκαιρίας. Αθήνα: ΥΠΕΠΘ, ΙΔΕΚΕ. Αγγλικός Γραμματισμός στα ΣΔΕ. E-class at Created and maintained by B. Mitsikopoulouwww.gunet.gr

33 Project on the language of slogans

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