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Critical Pedagogy 4th Ed – Welcome to My Real World

Except from:
Wink, J. (2011, 4/e, pp.1-2) Critical Pedagogy: Notes from the REAL WORLD. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Kids, cows, and computers are central to my life. Family, friends, and fun fill my days. Pedagogy and passion sustain me as I continue to focus on power and problems in schools and society. Critical pedagogy has taught me that power and problems have one thing in common: There will always be enough for all of us. Think of it this way: Power and problems are not finite; they are not fixed; and they certainly are not like a piece of pie-If I give some away, there will be no less for me. Power is the process of collaborating with others as we seek varied solutions to complex problems, which are ever changing.Critical pedagogy continues to teach me that critical pedagogy is also complex and evolving. It is not finite; it is not fixed; it is not easily defined and understood in a neat little package. However, initially, I think it is helpful to understand that critical does not only mean criticize. Critical also means to see deeply what is below the surface-think, critique, or analyze. Pedagogy does not only mean how a teacher teaches. It is about the visible and hidden human interactions between a teacher and a learner, whether they are in a classroom or in the larger community. Critical pedagogy looks for the why that leads to action.

Pedagogy is to good interactive teaching and learning in the classroom as critical pedagogy is to good interactive teaching and learning in the classroom and in the real world.

The first edition of this book was written in the midst of my real life as a professor at a state university. I was teaching full time, and most pages were written between 3:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M. and on weekends. I longingly watched as other professors went away and wrote in peace during their sabbaticals. The second edition was written in the midst of my other real life on the prairies during a sabbatical. The anticipated peace of the prairies seemed elusive, as the compelling reality of ranch life often took priority over a paragraph. Lives are filled with change and contradictions, yet we are often surprised when we bump into this predictable life process. Schools, too, continue on a path of change and contradiction. The third edition was written at the university and at the ranch as I juggled my two oh-so-real worlds. As I write this fourth edition, my real world, if anything, is more real. I am semi-retired from the university, and working more than I ever have. How do I write? In the nooks and crannies of life and always somewhere precariously balanced between grit and grace; between prairie life and another paragraph; between cows and computers; between muddy boots and a manuscript. Like Maxine Greene, I find I am a complete failure at retirement, and I’m almost ready to accept that, at least in my life, there will never be a period of pure peace to write. Like many of you, my personal and preofessional lives are completely intertwined.

Life is often filled with contradictions, ironies, and unforeseen joys. My life in schools has been much the same. When I started teaching, I imagined that it would be predictable, controllable, and safe. I thought, “I will teach, and they will learn.” As Edelsky (1991) writes, I was sure that I would be cool and detached; I was confident that every moment would be rational. My experiences in schools have taught me something different. Human relationships are at the heart of schooling (Cummins, 1996, p. 1). Indeed, it has been the passion and the personal interactions that have put the power in pedagogy for me. Although many of my experiences in schools and in life are not as I thought they would be, it is only the study of critical pedagogy that made me realize that the potential of pedagogy is all about people. I thought my life in schools would be about me, teaching. I now think that Paulo Freire was right: Education is radically about love (personal communication, N. Millich, November 3, 1998).

Now here is the point: each of us has our own real world. It informs us; it enlightens us; it amuses us; it challenges us. And each of our worlds is a part of who we are. Each of our worlds contributes to and enriches us and others. Our own unique real world is the culture we know best; it is where we feel most at home; we speak the language; we know the perspective. No one’s real world is the best; it is just what we know. No one’s culture is the best; it is just what we know. No one’s language is the best; it is just what we know. Critical pedagogy has enabled me to appreciate and celebrate others’ ways of knowing even when I don’t understand and might not have experienced them. It is the legacy of my real world that informs my perspective. As I reflect on my life on the prairies and my other life in schools and the community, I draw these conclusions:

Prairies The greater the diversity, the healthier the environment.

Perspectives The greater the diversity, the broader the thought.

People The greater the diversity, the better the democracy.

It is the legacy of critical pedagogy that gives me the courage to express my perspective. I am confident that critical pedagogy will encourage you to read and write your world.