The pedagogical challenge: Facing the aporetic madness of social justice

Year: 2005

Author: Zipin, Lew

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The context for this symposium is an ARC linkage project – Redesigning Pedagogies in the North (RPiN) – currently in the first of three years. RPiN is a linkage partnership involving a University of South Australia team of 9 Chief Investigators plus other academic staff; the Northern Adelaide Secondary School Principal’s Network, spanning all 10 high schools in Adelaide’s northern suburbs; the Adelaide branch of the Australian Education Union; and the South Australian government’s Social Inclusion Unit. The project has a middle school focus, but includes one adult returning student program and one primary school.

Our political-ethical aim is more socially just schooling for students in one of the most severely ‘disadvantaged’ school catchments in Australia. Our educative aim is to design curriculum and pedagogy which engages students in meaningfully relevant learning that at the same time enables academic success. Our main strategy for doing this is to research the funds of knowledge (Moll et al) with which students identify in their lifeworlds beyond school; to build rigorous and at the same time meaningfully engaging school learning around this lifeworld-based knowledge; and to scaffold such lifeworld-relevant learning activities into productive connection with the learning of cultural capitals needed for mainstream academic success.

Methodologically, through early-stage roundtables and readings, Uni- and teacher researchers work together to develop our ‘ethnographic imaginations’ about student’s lives in local community sites beyond school. Extending from this the teacher researchers – assisted by Uni researchers – design pedagogies to engage students in rich curricular tasks that mobilise students as researchers of their own lifeworlds. It is hoped that these student projects will enable Uni- and teacher-researchers to know more about students’ lifeworld funds of knowledge, the pedagogies by which these are learned and taught in students’ out-of-school lives, and the identity formations that infuse these lifeworld ways of learning and knowing. All this then feeds into renewed action research cycles, further (re)designing curriculum and pedagogy that mobilises students as researchers of their lifeworlds.