Critical Education for Critical Times
14 May 2010, University of Nottingham
The development of a critical educational movement has been long in the making, and is now urgently overdue. These are without doubt critical times. The futures of public and common life hang in the balance. Intellectual and political openness and academic space are being increasingly curtailed and foreclosed. Student and worker-led occupations of marketised state institutions proliferate in recent months; so too does their suppression. How should we as educators be orienting our work, our relationships with each other, and with publics, communities of struggle and social movements? What constitutes critical education in these critical times?
‘Critical Education for Critical Times’ explored different responses to these questions through a series of participatory workshops and dialogues. Each workshop, facilitated by educators with experience in critical pedagogy and/or popular education, will draw on this experience to introduce new work in empowering, prefigurative, transformative and critical pedagogies that are linked to social and political movements. We will open these examples up for criticism and discussion, and hope to consolidate the knowledge produced during the day into a common resource for further developments of educational theory and practice.
CECT was organised by the Critical Pedagogy WM collective, sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, and supported by the Nottingham Free Schooland Critical Pedagogies Group.
Podcasting Critical Pedagogy and Popular Education
3 July 2009, Aston University
This seminar expanded upon ideas discussed the 20 February 2009 event. Whilst the prior event explored the relevance and importance of the bodies of ideas known as Critical Pedagogy and Popular Education for HE teachers and educators, the 3 July event sought to take forward the discussion from that day with a slightly different focus. In 2008 Dr Gurnam Singh, one of the members of the SIG, obtained funding from C-SAP (the Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics of the UK Higher Education Academy) to develop a series of podcasts on themes associated with Critical Pedagogy and Popular Education. Gurnam, with, support from other colleagues, has now completed a series of 8 podcasts that will provide the basis for the day’s activities. The day will be divided into two sessions, with the morning session bringing together as many as possible of those who participated in making the dialogical podcasts with Gurnam will discuss the significance of this process for themselves and the wider audience. The afternoon focused on the work of the Critical Pedagogy and Popular Education SIG to both publicise the availability of the material on the C-SAP website and consider the wider issues raised by the podcasts.
To download the full series of podcasts, visit the Resources page of this site.
Politics, Democracy and Practice
20 February 2009, Coventry University
This day was organised for Higher Education (HE) teachers and educators to think about the relevance and importance of the bodies of ideas known as Critical Pedagogy and Popular Education. We invited all those who:
- believe in academic excellence but not elitism
- are concerned about the creeping culture of neo-liberal managerialism in HE
- are uncomfortable with the idea of academics as entrepreneurs
- are concerned that the business culture in HE is corroding collegiality
- believe in the positive value of widening participation in HE
- are looking for new, creative ways of working with students
- believe that education still plays a vital role as a vehicle for progressive social change
- would like to connect to others who share these concerns
We believe it is important for progressive educators to meet and share ideas precisely at a time when the current economic crisis and growing popular discontent with neo-liberal policies across the world make it vital to elaborate alternative, participatory strategies for addressing the educational challenges of our times.
We saw this as a moment where we could (re)politicise, critique and reclaim the categories of existing discourse (such as ‘widening participation’, ‘inclusion’, ‘employer engagement’, ‘diversity’ etc.); and where we could together articulate our private troubles not simply as individual grievances but as the public issues they represent. The day sought to provide an opportunity for teachers in higher education across the full disciplines/subjects to share, update and develop our ideas and commitments to radical pedagogical practices that seek to promote inclusivity, social responsibility, ethical reflexivity and political awareness. We aimed particularly to develop:
- a critical understanding of key ideas and methods associated with critical pedagogy and popular education
- creative ideas for enhancing their pedagogical practices through engaging in sharing of ideas and critical dialogue with colleagues from different institutions and disciplines
- ideas and strategies for building alliances, networks and communities of practice amongst academics, students, citizens, activists and social movements.
The day covered workshops on a range of themes and issues, including:
- The Moment of Critical Pedagogy – Why Critical Pedagogy? Why Critical Pedagogy Now?
- The ideas of Popular Education in Research and Politics
- ‘Race’ and Social Justice in the University and in the Community
- Gender, Sexuality and Critical Pedagogy
- Performance as a Critical Tool
- Conversational Podcasting
The day also included a performance from Banner Theatre, one of Britain’s longest established community theatre companies, who have extensive experience of working with marginalized and disadvantaged communities.
Learning for democracy (Jim Crowther, Senior Lecturer in Community Education / Programme Co-ordinator for the BA(Hons) in Community Education – The Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh)
‘Tell us about it! Capturing the student voice (Terry Finnegan, Senior Lecturer, University of the Arts, London)
‘They Get Free Mobiles, Don’t They? workshop‘ (Banner Theatre)
A location of possibility’?: critical pedagogies in the university classroom (Cath Lambert, Academic Coordinator, The Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research, University of Warwick)
Culture as an educational tool (Dave Rogers, Banner Theatre)
From ‘anti-racist’ to ‘post-racist’ education: problems and possibilities (Gurnam Singh and Stephen Cowden)
Critical Pedagogy and Popular Education Weekend
30 November – 2 December 2007, Birmingham
This weekend seminar brought together 20 participants from Canada, England, the Irish Republic and Scotland, as well as two popular educators from Venezuela, to share experiences in critical pedagogy.