Disrupting Disruption: Invitational Pedagogy as a Response to Student Resistance

Disrupting Disruption: Invitational Pedagogy as a Response to Student Resistance

A. Abby Knoblauch (Kansas State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-495-6.ch009
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As educators look for productive ways to encourage students to disrupt their deeply held beliefs, they often turn toward liberatory pedagogies. Such pedagogical practices, however, often provoke student resistance to what is seen as attempts at indoctrination to liberal politics. This chapter explores responses to student resistance, especially Kopelson’s (2003) performance of neutrality, and posits instead a pedagogical practice based in the theory of invitational rhetoric, one that asks instructors to (attempt to) relinquish their intent to persuade students. This invitational pedagogy provides a strategy to reduce nonproductive student resistance while allowing for critical inquiry within the college writing classroom.
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The issue of student resistance in the classroom has garnered a surfeit of responses, in part due to the slippery nature of the term “resistance” itself. Resistance to authority can connote positively, as is the case in much resistance theory, based largely on Freire’s landmark work Pedagogy of the oppressed (2003/1970) in which Freire details his literacy work in Latin America as a form of resistance against an oppressive social structure. Proponents of critical composition pedagogies (also often termed liberatory, emancipatory, or radical pedagogies), primarily drawing on the work of scholars such as Freire, Giroux (1983, 1988), and Shor (1980), also see resistance as productive. Bizzell (1991), hooks (1994), Kennedy (1999), and Pratt (1991), for example, write about resistance in terms of liberation from hegemonic structures. But, as Welsh (2001) points out, “legitimate” resistance is often imagined as students recognizing and working against dominant ideologies (p. 556-7). When students defy instructors’ efforts to unveil the false consciousness under which the students are assumed to be operating, however, such resistance is deemed less productive (or, more optimistically, simply a step toward more legitimate resistance of hegemony).

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