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From educational pragmatism to critical literacy pedagogy: transformations in teaching practices
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From educational pragmatism to critical literacy pedagogy: transformations in teaching practices

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    2. What is educational pragmatism? The new educational pragmatism embraces a technical training without political analysis, because such analyses upset the smoothness of educational technicism [it] urges us not to burden students with political thoughts and to leave them alone so that they can best focus on their technical training. To the educational pragmatist, other social and critical preoccupations represent not just a waste of time but a real obstacle in their process of skills banking. (Paulo Freire 2006).

    3. Pragmatism Reduces human problems to the level of technical difficulties and solutions Is often defined as the only rational choice (Chua 1983, 39)

    4. Vulgar and Critical Pragmatism Cherryholmes (1988) (a) vulgar pragmatism accepts unquestionably explicit and implicit standards, conventions, rules and discourse practices that we find around us is therefore socially reproductive, reproducing accepted meanings and conventional ways of doing things places emphasis on practice and separates it from theory for the sake of making things work better promotes local ideologies as global, and past ideologies as present and future (b) critical pragmatism starts from the premise that our standards, beliefs, values, guiding texts, and discourse practices themselves require evaluation and appraisal it therefore brings a sense of crisis to our choices

    5. Pragmatism in English Language Teaching Pennycook (1997) A technical training which ignores sociocultural factors Focus on the training of students on specific language skills Fragmentation of knowledge which lacks contextual understanding Difficult for students to make connections between obtained knowledge and their lived experience => Yet, teachers day-to-day decisions in the English classroom have been found to both shape and be shaped by the broader sociopolitical orders outside the classroom (Auerbach 1995, Benesch 1996, Canagarajah 1993, Peirce & Stein 1995) Assumption Much of ELT operates on the pragmatist paradigm and has readily available a discourse of pragmatism.

    6. Towards a critical pragmatism Pennycook (1997: 266) If we are to encourage research that is pragmatic in the sense of looking at the everyday contexts of teaching, I would argue that this should be a critical, rather than a vulgar pragmatism, and insist that while we do have to get on with our teaching, we also have to think very seriously about the broader implications of everything we do.

    7. Critical literacy In a critical or emancipatory literacy pedagogy students become knowledgeable about their histories, their experiences, and the culture of their everyday environments. In addition, they must also become able to discern the dominant cultures codes and signifiers in order to escape their own environments. In an educational context shaped by a critical literacy, teachers must constantly teach a dual curriculum: A curriculum that empowers students to make sense of their everyday life, and A curriculum which enables students to obtain the tools for mobility valued in the dominant culture. (Macedo, 2006: xiii)

    8. Aims of the paper (a) to explore the effects and the changes brought about in teachers perceptions of their work when they move away from a pragmatic paradigm towards a critical literacy pedagogy b) to discuss the transformations in the English teachers teaching practices It will be argued that the identified changes constitute integral elements towards an emancipatory critical literacy.

    9. Data Work in progress Interviews and questionnaires with English language teachers working at Second Chance Schools (SDE) in Greece. My own interpretation as a participant from the position of coordinator of English literacy at SDE.

    10. The example of Second Chance Schools 48 schools all over Greece Alternative schools which aim to provide a second chance using innovative methods: a pedagogy of multilitacies is officially employed (subjects: English literacy, mathematical literacy, etc) The profile of the students at SDE Target group: 18-35 adults, who have not completed their basic education Many students work, have families, and various responsibilities They have their own beliefs, values, views

    23. A teaching practice in the agenda of English teachers at SDE Needs Analysis a system of aquiring information about the target situation as the basis for designing curricula and materials a comprehensive account of linguistic items, affective and cognitive factors in an attempt to develop a thorough understanding of what students know and do not know describes what is expected of students, not what might happen if their wishes were elicited and acted on Assumes that students will fulfill, not question, target situation requirements

    26. Dialectical relationship of needs and rights Rights analysis does not come to replace needs analysis. A dialectical relationship between the two allows us to take into account both the requirements and dissent. The starting point can be the institutional requirements but a vision of student engagement can provide the momentum for change. This dual focus of compliance and resistance allows students to choose which aspects of the course they want to accept and which they want to challenge (Benesch 1999: 325-26) The combined use of needs and rights analysis can thus be seen as a step towards critical pedagogy

    27. Resistances to critical pedagogy at institutional level (e.g. school principal) Dont we need a final exam to see what these students have learnt? Since we are called a school, we should have proper formal ways of evaluating students When we spend a lot of our time working through projects, we may not be able to cover all content they the students will need at individual teacher level I first teach them some things I consider important, things they will need to learn, and then ask them what they want to do (underlying assumption: I, the teacher, know what they need)

    28. Responses to counter arguments at institutional level (e.g. school principal) Introducing formal exams would be like taking a practice from a typical school and placing it in an alternative school. It doesnt belong here. (Alternative practice: student portfolio, descriptive evaluation) at individual teacher level I dont want to tell them things; I want to ask them to try to guess drawing on their experience as adults

    29. Transformation at work: A closing comment ???? ???? sta S?? pe????sa p????? ??e? d?a????ta?. ???a ????a? ?a? s??ft?a? e t?? ??e?. (A teacher of English literacy)

    30. Bibliography - On Pragmatism Allison, D. (1996) Pragmatist discourse and English for academic purposes. English for Specific Purposes 15(2):85-103. Benesch, S. (1993) ESL, ideology and the politics of pragmatism. TESOL Quarterly 27(4): 705-717 Cherryholmes, C. (1988) Power and criticisms: Poststructural investigations in education. NY: Teachers College Press. Chua, B.-H. (1983) Re-opening ideological discussion in Singapore: A new theoretical discussion. Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science 11(2): 31-45.

    31. Bibliography On critical pedagogy Auerbach, E. (1995) The politics of the ESL classrooms: Issues of power in pedagogical choices. In J. Tollefson (ed.) Power and inequality in language education. NY: CUP. 9-33. Benesch, S. (1996) Needs analysis and curriculum development in EAP: An example of a critical approach. TESOL Quarterly 30(4): 723-738. Canagarajah, A.S. (1993) Critical ethnography of a Sri Lankan classroom: ambiguities in student opposition to reproduction through ESOL. TESOL Quarterly 27(4): 601-626. Freire, P. (2006) Foreword to Literacies of Power. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press. Macedo, M. (2006) Literacies of power. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press. Pennycook, A. 1997. Vulgar pragmatism, critical pragmatism, and EAP. English for Specific Purposes 16 (4):253-269. Peirce, B.N. & Stein P. (1995) Why the Monkeys passage bombed: texts, genres and teaching. Harvard Educational Review 65(1):50-65.

    32. Bibliography English Literacy at SDE ??ts???p?????, ?. & Sa?e?????-Schultz, L. 2006. G?aat?s?? st?? ??????? G??ssa: ?????aa Sp??d??, ?e??d???????? ???t?se??, ??pa?de?t??? ????? ??a ta S???e?a ?e?te??? ???a???a?. ????a: ????T, ?????. ???????? G?aat?s?? sta S??. E-class at Created and maintained by B. Mitsikopoulou

    33. Project on the language of slogans