For Radical Educators and Librarians

Name: Roa, Molly.

Topic: E.T.

Citation: Keer, G. (2016). “Barriers to critical pedagogy in information literacy teaching.” In N. Pagowsky & K. McElroy (Eds.), Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook  (pp. 65–74). Chicago: Association of College & Research Libraries.  Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gr_Keer/publication/319945161_Barriers_to_Critical_Pedagogy_in_Information_Literacy_Teaching/links/59ee28c6a6fdcc32187daeff/Barriers-to-Critical-Pedagogy-in-Information-Literacy-Teaching.pdf

Summary: This entire book was featured previously on this blog, but I wanted to highlight this chapter in particular. Keer reflects all the ways in which librarians must confront our limits as critical pedagogues and how we can work to rethink our roles in the air or neutrality demanded by librarians. While Keer doesn’t come to any firm conclusions, his work challenges the reader to assess critical pedagogy as a theory in contrast with our roles in the library, ways in which we can work effectively and our limitations. This chapter is essential for radical anti-neoliberal educators and librarians to better assess our roles in the classroom, library, and library profession.

Opinion: As a queer woman, I found this work very helpful. I have been interested in critical pedagogy since undergrad, and have struggled to find a way to combine my library profession with my ethics of anti-authoritarianism and liberation for marginalized communities. In fact, this ethical issue can at time be a persistent issue for me in my day-to-day at work in a public library. Keer acknowledges this difficulty and also the overall lack of research and resources that are librarian specific on critical pedagogy.

A foundational article that reads like it could be written today

Cothran, T.
ET
Wiggins, G. (1989) The futility of trying to teach everything of importance. Educational leadership. 47(3), p. 44-59. Retrieved from http://www.ibmidatlantic.org/Wiggins.pdf

Summary: Sadly, this 1989 article reads like it could be written today. Whether in 1989 it was a reflection of changing thought on our educational system or a challenge to the status quo, I’m not sure. Wiggins argues eloquently for an inquiry driven process to learning, noting that students can’t possible learn everything there is they need to know by 12th grade. Rather, it should be our job to teach them to question, to check their own assumptions, and the skills to find the answers they need to solve a problem or provide a deeper understanding to something of interest/need.

Evaluation: I think this is an insightful article. I find it a bit distressing that we haven’t moved forward in this direction more in the 30 years since it was written. This was before we saw the explosion of access to information brought about by the internet and our personal handheld devices! In Wiggins arguments, there a couple of key take-aways for me. He talks about standards and how standards should reflect a process rather than content. This makes me think about how the AALS standards are written. I’ve often reflected in my lesson designs that if you are building a strong unit, learners will access those standards throughout their learning process depending on where they are in their learning journey. That’s not to say that some won’t need to be pushed to go deeper, but it’s an argument for meeting learners where they are and helping them become stronger.

He is clearly advocating for teachers as facilitators of learning. He even calls for teachers to be an “intellectual librarian.” This makes me consider how we, as librarians, model this kind of process in our spaces. What can we do (even with our fixed schedules etc.) to engage learners when they encounter our spaces (physical or virtual).

I particularly appreciated his parallel of learning as related to sports or the performing arts. As someone with a theater background, I can honestly say that my most connected learning has come about when developing theater pieces. Depending on a show, history comes alive and I can see it and it’s importance — it’s not just a bunch of names and dates on a page. Scientific arguments and mysteries may be revealed. I question the status quo and want to know more. It’s also a collaborative learning process. If you are an actor, you are deeply immersed in the why and how of your character. A designer is immersed in creating a visual or aural world. All of these pieces come together (aka all of these people collaborate) to create something that is larger than any one of them could on their own. It reminds me of Dr. L’s advocacy for a meaningful culminating activity.

Critical Pedagogy in the Classroom

Martinez, Evelyn

A, M. (1970, January 01). Critical Pedagogy in the Classroom. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from http://maljewari.blogspot.com/2013/03/how-does-critical-pedagogy-look-like-in.html

This is an excellent website that offers information, tips, lesson plans and links to other resources to help teachers create a learning environment whereby students are encouraged to become critically conscious and active learners.

http://maljewari.blogspot.com/2013/03/how-does-critical-pedagogy-look-like-in.html

Critical Pedagogy: Teaching Multicultural Literature in High School

Martinez, Evelyn

The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature – Theory Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2017, from https://www.learner.org/workshops/hslit/session7/

The lesson and video contains lessons incorporating selected works by Octavia E. Butler and Ruthanne Lum McCunn that can be used for the teaching of multicultural literature in the high school setting.  The lesson is written using the educational philosophy of critical pedagogy. 



https://www.learner.org/workshops/hslit/session7/