Teacher educators' perspectives of and dispositions to critical pedagogy in a multi-ethnic developing nation

Year: 2019

Author: Bailie, Addisu

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Critical pedagogy aims at providing students and teachers with the skills and knowledge necessary to challenge deep-seated assumptions that legitimate disempowering political and social practices that structure every aspect of society. In light of this perspective, it is presumed that teachers serve as agents of social change. For this to happen, teacher education plays a pivotal role by fostering the knowledge and dispositions necessary for their role. This study therefore aimed at exploring teacher educators' conceptions of and dispositions to critical pedagogy in a north-western university in a multi-ethnic developing country. To this end, in-depth interviews were conducted with eight teacher educators who have been teaching foundation courses for many years. The interviews focused on their conceptions of critical pedagogy and their dispositions to engage in critical pedagogical perspectives. The interview data were analyzed through thematic analysis using the constant comparative method. The results revealed two categories of conceptions of critical pedagogy. The first type is considering critical pedagogy as a teaching methodology that takes a constructivist perspective in which knowledge is socially constructed , and thus focuses on fostering critical deliberations in implementing the prescribed curriculum. On the other hand, three of the interviewees were found to have an emancipatory view in which the relationships between politics, ideology, power, and education and pedagogy are problematized with the aim of understanding and transforming schools and society. Teacher educators' dispositions to critical pedagogy were also found to have different patterns. Most of them had the willingness and commitment to question, challenge and critique dominant ideologies, unequal power relations, social injustices, etc at theoretical and global levels. For example, Neo-liberalism and education, multiculturalism, ideology and curriculum are most likely to be discussed without fear of apprehension. Nevertheless, the types of issues that they tend to discuss and reflect on with reference to local and national contexts depend on their assumptions of the consequences those discussions might possibly incur. They appeared to be at ease when dealing with gender and disability issues. However, they considered politics and ethnicity as issues of high risk in the contexts in which they live and work. Hence, they tend to avoid discussions on educational issues in relation to context-specific power, political and ethnic relations. Unless both teachers and students engage in authentic and critical reflection upon the nature of educational practices and the institutional and socio-political contexts in which they are practiced, transformative outcomes could not be achieved.