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What Is Cp?

By Author: Adelaide.White
Total Articles: 41

The concept of critical pedagogy (CP) has been around in the E LTprofession for almost two decades (Canagarajah 2005), but it has only been relatively recently that we have seen heightened interest in its principles and practical implications. Most of the discussion on CP has been limited to its rationale and not much has been done to bring it down to the actual world of classroom practice, for which it was originally intended. The present paper seeks to present a snapshot of CP by delineating its principles and suggesting some areas of application for L2 practitioners.

Unlike most of the other concepts and ideas one encounters in the literature on L2 teaching, CP is not a theory, 'but a way of "doing" learning and teaching' (Canagarajah op.cit: 932), or borrowing Pennycook's (2001) terminology, it is teaching with an attitude. What critical pedagogues are after is the transformation of society through education, including language teaching. CP deals with questions of social justice and social change through education. Critical pedagogues argue that educational systems are reflections of the societal systems within which they operate, and since in all social systems we have discrimination and marginalization in terms of race, social class, or gender (Giroux 1983), the same biases are reproduced in Links London educational systems. In other words, the same people who have the power to make decisions in society at large are the ones who also have the power to design and implement educational systems, and consequently, their ideas and values get accepted and promoted while the values and ideas of others are not given voice. Education, as a result, is a political activity in which the rights of certain classes are systematically denied.

By viewing education as an intrinsically political, power-related activity (Freire 1973), supporters of CP seek to expose the discriminatory foundations of education and take steps towards social change in such a way that there is more inclusion and representation of groups who are left out. CP puts the classroom context into the wider social context with the belief that 'what happens in the classroom should end up making a difference outside the classroom' (Baynham 2006: 28). In language teaching, critical practice is 'about connecting the word with the world. It is about recognizing language as ideology, not just system. It is about extending the educational space to the social, cultural, and political dynamics of language use' (Kumaravadivelu 2006: 70).

The political implications of education, in general, and L2 teaching in particular, might not be completely evident to many professionals; teaching English, they argue, is teaching a new system of communication and it does not have much political/critical significance. The problem is, however, that any Links Of London Bracelets language is part of the wider semiotic system within which it was shaped and is infused with ideological, historical, and political symbols and relations (Pennycook 2001). The identity of a language is shaped as a result of what has happened to it, and what it has done to others; if we look back upon the history of English and its close connection with the spread of colonialism, we find ourselves pausing, pondering, and admitting that English is not an innocent language. Exposing some of the values that underlie the spread and promotion of English, and questioning some of the assumptions based on which the profession currently operates are at the heart of CP and discussions dealing with linguistic imperialism (Pennycook 1998).

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