Critical Pedagogy Bites: Delivering a Decolonised Curriculum

Vikki Hill, Staff

In our four filmed interviews ‘Critical Pedagogy Bites’ (2018), we explore how we can decolonise our curriculum by using critical pedagogy as a means to address oppressive power relations within the learning and teaching space. Decolonisation of the classroom/lecture theatre/ studio involves not only what we learn and teach, but the way that we learn and teach.

Critical Pedagogy is most typically associated with the work of Paulo Freire, the Brazilian Educationalist, who was interested in raising literacy levels amongst peasants. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), Freire criticised traditional rote learning methods that alienated the learner (and the teacher) and instead aimed to develop self-reflexivity in the learner and awaken a critical consciousness. Education is intimately linked to the production and reproduction of social relations, power and politics. Therefore, the critical pedagogue argues that questions of oppression, social justice and democracy are not distinct from the acts of learning and teaching.

In Critical Pedagogy #4, Gurnam expands on the importance of non-hierarchical dialogue and exchange to develop critical consciousness, to connect ideas to lived experience (and vice versa) and to affect change in the world. In practice, the pedagogical approaches that we, as both educators and students, can take forward would be to realise that creative teaching methods on their own are no guarantor of transformative learning but we should aim to deploy a broader canvas – visual, auditory, tactile, that can engage and stimulate.

In Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks writes “I enter the classroom with the assumption that we must build “community” in order to create a climate of openness and intellectual rigor… It has been my experience that one way to build community in the classroom is to recognize the value of each individual voice.” (1994, p40)

By decolonising our pedagogy, the learner can create a new framework for negotiating the idea of intelligence that is both critical and action orientated leading from personal perspective transformation to social and political change.

This article was originally written and published in Decolonising the Arts Curriculum: Perspectives on Higher Education Zine 1 (2018).

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