Ethics, Critical Pedagogy, and Teaching Underground


Reposted from Hybrid Pedagogy:

“Not every change we would like to make can be accomplished within the policies set forth by our university, though. That’s where the third line of resistance comes in: teaching underground. Academic instructors can influence the intellectual and social development of our students outside the boundaries of the course. We can also influence the way our colleagues think about things. Further, our role as critical pedagogues need not be limited to the professional relationships we have with students and colleagues. We have an educational role to play outside the university, as well.

For example, while what we do during class, prep, and grading time is important, what happens during office hours often has a greater impact on our students. Even better can be meetings over coffee or the throwing of a frisbee. And education need not be limited to our tuition-paying university students. As a parent and the member of a vibrant faith community, I have two very important educational charges outside my professional life, in which I seek to put my critical-pedagogy ideals to work. Social media is another locus of pedagogy, if we use it as such. Many of us teachers use social media for pedagogical development, seeking the ideas of others that we can can appropriate for our own teaching. But we can also use it as an others-oriented place to teach other educators, especially given the large population of educators seeking to learn from others on those platforms.

These are not the only ways in which we can seek change and resist harmful practices in education. But I have found it helpful to frame my educational work in these three ways. For instance, I used to try and do everything that I found important in every class. When institutional policies or student preferences got in the way, I became frustrated — either with the policies, or the students, or with my own inability to make it all work. However, recognizing the difference between the first and second lines of resistance helps me see the value in making incremental local changes while pursuing big change outside the immediate context of my classes. Likewise, taking opportunities to “teach underground” helps me accomplish aims outside of class that I cannot (yet) accomplish in class. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on the broad goals and help each other to make significant, incremental gains on the local level, both in class and off the books.”

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