Call recording: Learning to make a difference
This is the recording of the Conscious Learning webinar which took place on September 14, 2021.
What can we gain by looking at learning as a social phenomenon, which is all about following one’s curiosity, engaging one’s uncertainty, and making a difference in one’s life and/or the world? How is this perspective helpful when considering what we are doing in the Deep Adaptation Forum, and other social spaces in our lives?
In this webinar, we discussed Bev & Etienne Wenger-Trayner’s perspective on social learning, and how it can be useful to understand the changes happening to people in online communities.
We also touched on Paulo Freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed, on learning as apprenticeship, mutual learning, the importance of safety and belonging for learning and personal change to happen… among other topics.
ABOUT THE CONSCIOUS LEARNING WEBINARS
This webinar is part of the Conscious Learning Festival (July to September, 2021), itself an offshoot of Wendy and Dorian’s participatory Action Research project in the Deep Adaptation Forum (see here). These webinars touch on the topics of learning, change, and Deep Adaptation. Where relevant, they will highlight the presenters’ “learning journey” into the Deep Adaptation Forum and beyond.
Read more about the Festival here, and feel free to convene a discussion of your own!
See here for a list of upcoming webinars, and here to watch our call recordings.
I try to bring good people and exciting projects together within the Deep Adaptation Forum, where I am currently part of the core team. I am also studying social learning and radical collective change as part of my PhD at IFLAS, University of Cumbria.
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Summary of Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Paulo Freire
José Paulo Paes de Andrade Freire was a Brazilian educator and philosopher. He is best known for his work as an advocate of critical pedagogy, which focuses on the development of social consciousness in students. In this book, he discusses how to foster deep learning among students by helping them build their own understanding instead of merely transmitting knowledge from teacher to student. Freire believed that true education must be based on dialogue between teachers and learners so that they can develop critical thinking skills while exploring important issues relevant to society at large.
Criticism of the “banking model” of education
Main article: Banking model of education
In terms of pedagogy, Freire is best known for his attack on what he called the “banking” concept of education, in which students are viewed as empty accounts to be filled by teachers. He notes that “it transforms students into receiving objects [and] attempts to control thinking and action, leading men and women to adjust to the world, inhibiting their creative power.
Culture of silence
According to Freire, unequal social relations create a “culture of silence” that instills a negative, passive, and suppressed self-image onto the oppressed, and learners must, then, develop a critical consciousness in order to recognize that this culture of silence is created to oppress. A culture of silence can also cause the “dominated individuals [to] lose the means by which to critically respond to the culture that is forced on them by a dominant culture.”
He considers social, race, and class dynamics to be interlaced into the conventional education system, through which this culture of silence eliminates the “paths of thought that lead to a language of critique.”
Paulo Freire defines critical consciousness as the ability to intervene in reality in order to change it. Critical consciousness proceeds through the identification of “generative themes”, which Freire identifies as “iconic representations that have a powerful emotional impact in the daily lives of learners.” In this way, individual consciousness helps end the “culture of silence” in which the socially dispossessed internalize the negative images of themselves created and propagated by the oppressor in situations of extreme poverty. Liberating learners from this mimicry of the powerful, and the fratricidal violence that results therefrom is a major goal of critical consciousness. Critical consciousness is a fundamental aspect of Freire’s concept of popular education.
History of application
The ancient Greeks first identified the essence of critical consciousness when philosophers encouraged their students to develop an “impulse and willingness to stand back from humanity and nature… [and] to make them objects of thought and criticism, and to search for their meaning and significance. In his books, Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Education for Critical Consciousness, Freire explains critical consciousness as a sociopolitical educative tool that engages learners in questioning the nature of their historical and social situation, which Freire addressed as “reading the world”. The goal of critical consciousness, according to Freire, should be acting as a subject in the creation of a democratic society. In education, Freire implies intergenerational equity between students and teachers in which both learn, both question, both reflect and both participate in meaning-making. Using this idea, and describing current instructional methods as homogenization and lockstep standardization, alternative approaches are proposed, such as the Sudbury model of democratic education schools, an alternative approach in which children, by enjoying personal freedom thus encouraged to exercise personal responsibility for their actions, learn at their own pace rather than following a previously imposed chronologically-based curriculum. In a similar form, students learn all the subjects, techniques, and skills in these schools. The staff is minor actors, the “teacher” is an adviser and helps just when asked. Sudbury model of democratic education schools maintain that values, social justice, critical consciousness, intergenerational equity, and political consciousness included, must be learned through experience, as Aristotle said: “For the things, we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
Hi everyone, I enjoyed listening to this conversation. It, and other recordings I’ve listened to from PDA, remind me a little of ‘quaker’ style, with such deep and earnest listening, and reflections. I loved the insight that adapting is learning; I think too – adapting and learning are actually ‘changing’, which is miraculous! In my experience and learning that is actually such a hard thing for human beings to do, to actually change.
I also love that learning how to really converse is being found to be a core activity of PDA – it is just such a counterpoint to how I felt after first reading Jem’s paper, and how I’ve heard some others have felt – the panic, terror and impulse to run; but here what is being found as essential in response are these skills of the heart.