Insider/outsider: A self-analysis of our practice as critical social educators

Year: 2012

Author: Pruyn, Marc, Cary, Lisa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


One of us was born in the Commonwealth, and the other in the States; yet we both have a bit of Aussie and Yank in us, having studied, taught and lived in both countries for many years. Combined, we have approximately 30 years of experience working in teacher education and are both social educators within the 'critical' tradition (Darder, 1991; Freire, 1970; Lather, 1991; McLaren, 1997). As we began to move from being mid- to late-career academics, we embarked on a reflective project that has us looking back on some of the pivotal teaching moments that have challenged, defined and matured us as pedagogues, researchers and critical theorists. We bring to bear, and problematize, perspectives as insiders/outsiders, as Australians/Americans, attempting to span two similar, yet very distinct political, cultural and educational systems and ways of looking at 'critical social education' for social justice (Cary, 2006; Pruyn et al., 2006).

We use an auto-ethnographic and 'critical incident' methodology (Boufoy-Bastick, 2004) to elicit our data, and then code them data using an emergent thematic interpretive approach (Bogdan & Bicklen, 2007).

In this paper we explore the four most prevalent categories of resistance/engagement we have thus far encountered:

* Resistance to politics/ideology (discomfort): 'Xena and Bamby have a discussion'
* Resistance to difference: 'Your mum's not an “Aussie Aussie”, your mum's Pilipino'
* Engagement with difference: 'I like that guy, too. But my dad says he's a pufta'

We believe this research will be helpful to those working in teacher education, social education, critical pedagogy and Civics & Citizenship Education; both in Australia and abroad.


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