Critical Reflective Practice, Critical Pedagogy, and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Unpacking Assumptions and Taking Action

Critical Reflective Practice, Critical Pedagogy, and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Unpacking Assumptions and Taking Action

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5649-8.ch003
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This chapter describes the frameworks of critical pedagogy, culturally relevant pedagogy, and related experiences that teachers engage in as part of the authors' antiracist professional development work. Critical reflective practice is at the core of these pedagogical approaches and is central in offering effective antiracist teacher professional development, with these frameworks having the potential to help teachers become aware of the ways that institutional racism pervades schools and society and the ways we are all complicit in perpetuating racism; shift the focus of oppressive educational challenges from individuals—including self as teacher, parents, and students—to systems of oppression; support teachers to develop the knowledge and skills to advocate and take action for antiracist attitudes, policies, and practices, both in society and in their own classrooms; support teachers' antiracist teaching that positions students to develop as critical, antiracist, and engaged citizens; and ensure that teachers and schools recognize and support the optimal development of every child.
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Theoretical Frameworks

In the recent and ongoing assault on public education, teachers have experienced a profound shift in the ways in which others view them and their work. School reformers have unquestioningly adopted the factory metaphor for schooling, positioning teachers as technicians tasked with following the mandates handed down to them by others (Giroux, 2020; Giroux, 2012). Teachers who had formerly embraced their knowledge and their responsibility of extending curriculum topics and creating innovative learning experiences are now “torn between their sense of what constitutes good teaching and the constraints of a bureaucratized and isolating system that does little to encourage initiative and experimentation” (Levine, 1995, p. 53). Relatedly, and not surprisingly, there is decreasing interest in entering the teaching profession and increasing numbers of teachers are leaving the profession, discouraged and dissatisfied (Learning Policy Institute).

Critical pedagogy and culturally relevant pedagogy are frameworks teachers can use to reclaim their agency and to examine their curriculum and the relationships they develop in their own classroom settings with their students, colleagues, and school communities. Researchers and educational theorists have challenged the notion of teachers as technicians whose sole responsibility is to transfer information to less-knowledgeable students (Adams, Blumenfeld, Castaneda, Hackman, Peters, & Zuniga, 2000; Brookfield, 2017; Giroux, 2020; Hooks, 2014; McLaren, 2015; Schön, 2017; Shor, 2012). Rather, teachers are encouraged to be critically conscious of the relationships between theory and their practice (Duncan-Andrade, Reyes & Morrell, 2008; Wink, 2011), to consider the moral dimensions of their profession (Hansen, 2017; Sockett, 2012), to create learning opportunities that are meaningful and liberating (Darder, 2015; Freire, 1970), and to create curricula that are culturally relevant to the diverse student population (Ladson-Billings, 2013; Ladson-Billings, 1995; Scherff & Spector, 2010).

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