Part 3: Designed for Co-Creation: Teacher & Student
By E. Russ Bermejo, MSW, Lecturer
This is Part 3 of a 4-part blog post.
Read Part 1: An Invitation to CBU Faculty and Students
Read Part 2: Designed for Courage: Me & Myself
The Second Relationship: Teacher & Student
Once we transform the relationship with ourselves, we can move towards transforming our classrooms and lecture halls.
I am currently re-reading Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, a book I first encountered as an undergraduate sociology student at UCLA and frequently cited in numerous papers during my MSW graduate program. As a new educator, I am reading this book in renewed ways.
In the Pedagogy of Oppressed, Freire takes a critical look at the “banking method concept” of education, which sees students as passive learners who are containers and receptacles to be filled by the teacher. It is perhaps one of the prime examples of human disconnection and it happens on some level every day in our (my) classrooms. Freire asserts that this type of education is dehumanizing since it sees students as merely in the world, not with the world or with others. Students are spectators, not recreators and are given no scope for creative freedom or critical thinking. In other words, this type of education shares an ideology of oppression.
Freire proposes a problem-posing pedagogy which aims to raise critical consciousness. To liberate students into this critical consciousness, we must help them engage in active learning. Active learners take new information and apply it, rather than merely taking note of it. Firsthand use of new material develops personal ownership. When subject matter connects directly with students’ experiences and contexts, they care more about the material they are learning and will act on it. So as educators, we must work to stimulate critical thinking and awareness in our students so they can transform reality.
Taking active learning seriously means re-thinking the traditional classroom and even turning it inside out or upside down. One pedological strategy that has drawn increasing attention in higher educational settings is “flipping” in which the classroom format is turned completely around. In the flipped-classroom, the students view and listen to lectures on their own time freeing up class time for experiential exercises, group discussion and question and answer sessions. The classroom now becomes a space to work through problems, advance concepts and engage in collaborative learning, active interaction and dialogue. The professor serves as a mentor, coach, facilitator and tour guide of learning opportunities rather than just a lecturer or grader (Gerstein, 2012)
Freire challenges us to re-examine the teacher-student relationship so both are simultaneously teachers and students. Essentially, we teach each other. This is only possible if I recognize that knowledge is inherently about power. But when teaching and learning is a mutual and relational endeavor, power is shared and relationships are restored. Co-creation replaces our need for control and reclaims our capacity for connectedness which good teaching depends on. It’s pretty awesome that we get to create environments in which students can be active creators of knowledge that can transform the world.4
Reflect and Discuss:
- What is your reaction to the idea that teaching as a mutual endeavor in which you and the students teach each other? Why is this paradigm shift particularly challenging for us in higher education?
- How are you nurturing critical thinking and awareness in your classroom and instruction? What changes do you need to make to ensure you are developing this essential skill for your students?
Coming Next: Part 3: Designed for Action: Researcher and Participants
4 In the revised Blooms Taxonomy framework (2001), creating, designing, constructing, assembling, developing, formulating, authoring, is considered to be the highest level of thinking. See https://www.bloomstaxonomy.net/
Freire, Paulo (2018). The Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 50th Anniversary Edition. 4th Edition. Bloomsbury Academic.
Gerstein, J. May 15, 2012. Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture for Higher Education. www.usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com