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Working for Social Justice Inside and Outside the Classroom

A Community of Students, Teachers, Researchers, and Activists


Edited By Nancye E. McCrary and E. Wayne Ross

What were once distinct professions for serving others and building knowledge are now communities of workers struggling against a tide of increasingly unregulated capitalism that is being fed by human greed. Teachers have become education workers, joining a working class that is rapidly falling behind and that is increasingly being silenced by the power elite who control nearly all the wealth that once supported a thriving middle class. Working for Social Justice Inside and Outside the Classroom delivers critical counter-narratives aimed at resisting the insatiable greed of a few and supporting a common good for most. The book is dedicated to hopeful communities working against perpetual war, the destruction of our natural environment, increasing poverty, and social inequalities as they fight to preserve democratic ideals in a just and sustainable world. Written by some of the most influential thinkers of our time, this collection is a tapestry of social justice issues woven in and out of formal and informal education.
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Chapter Twelve: Broadening the Circle of Critical Pedagogy


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Broadening the Circle of Critical Pedagogy

E. Wayne Ross

Critical pedagogy is understood (and misunderstood) in myriad ways. Most often associated with Paulo Freire’s (1970) problem-posing approach in opposition to the traditional banking method of education, it is also closely connected with neo-Marxist, critical theory-based analyses of education, schooling, and society. Despite popular perception, and the conceptualizations of critical pedagogy by some of its most well-known proponents, there is no single ideological perspective or particular social movement that defines critical pedagogy.

The dominant conceptualizations of critical pedagogy are unnecessarily narrow, both politically and philosophically. As a result, a pedagogical approach that is undeniably powerful has been undermined and its impact blunted. Critical pedagogy has become less a process of students investigating the world and constructing personally meaningful understandings that aid them in the struggle to overcome oppression and achieve freedom and more akin to an a priori set of beliefs about the world presented as maps to be followed. In other words, critical pedagogy has met the enemy and he is us, or at least includes us. If critical pedagogy, as a process of education, is to achieve its aims it cannot exempt itself from the same uprooting and examination of its own underlying assumptions, pronouncements, clichés, and received wisdom.

My aim here is to broaden the circle of critical pedagogy. I will illustrate how we might increase its uptake by teachers...

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