It is our relationship with a young person upon which most of our work, as a practitioner, hinges. And this is a relationship that can ‘develop only when the persons involved pay attention to one another’ (Barry and Connolly 1986: 47). What effective workers with individual young people do is highly skilled work, drawing on, through different stages in the process, a range of diverse roles and capacities. Done well the practitioner moves seamlessly through the stages, but the unifying core is the relationship between young person and the worker. (Collander-Brown 2005: 33)
First, as we listen to our students, we gain their trust and, in an on-going relation of care and trust, it is more likely that students will accept what we try to teach. They will not see our efforts as “interference” but, rather, as cooperative work proceeding from the integrity of the relation. Second, as we engage our students in dialogue, we learn about their needs, working habits, interests, and talents. We gain important ideas from them about how to build our lessons and plan for their individual progress. Finally, as we acquire knowledge about our students’ needs and realize how much more than the standard curriculum is needed, we are inspired to increase our own competence (Noddings 2005).
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Most students really appreciate seeing a finished product. If you are to really benefit from model essays, you need to learn how to read the ‘techniques of the writer’. The following exercise helps you to get started with developing your ‘read the writer’ skills.
Critical pedagogy challenges both students and teachers to channel their experiences of oppression into educating and empowering marginalized peoples. Critical pedagogues approach education as a process of social, cultural, political, and individual transformation, where social equity can be nourished or social inequity perpetuated. According to critical pedagogues, notions defining rational classification of people into categories that diminish their social affect and importance keep them oppressed. Oppressed peoples thus require not only awareness of inequities they suffer but also an understanding of ways that oppressive social mechanisms and beliefs endure, and of resistance strategies. Reflection on one’s own experiences of oppression and the feelings of frustration, shame, guilt, and rage that accompany those experiences help shape practices of critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogues redirect these feelings that can incite violent acts, submission, and/or ongoing repression into dynamic dialogue that defines literacy in terms of participatory citizenship.
The greatest gift that we can give is to ‘be alongside’ another person. It is in times of crisis or achievement or when we have to manage long-term difficulties that we appreciate the depth and quality of having another person to accompany us. In Western society at the end of the twentieth century this gift has a fairly low profile. Although it is pivotal in establishing good communities its development is often left to chance and given a minor status compared with such things as management structure and formal procedures. It is our opinion that the availability of this sort of quality companionship and support is vital for people to establish and maintain their physical, mental and spiritual health and creativity.
At one level, the same could be said of a ‘good’ subject teacher in a school. As Palmer (1998: 10) has argued, ‘good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher’ (emphasis in the original). However, the focus of pedagogues frequently takes them directly into questions around identity and integrity. This then means that their authenticity and the extent to which they are experienced as wise are vital considerations.
In service-learning writing courses, students either “compose texts for non-profit or community organizations, connect social theories with the experiences of disenfranchised groups, learn about literacy and community theory through tutoring experiences [and/] or develop collaborative problem-solving partnerships” (Ball and Goodburn 79)....
If we look to these traditions we are likely to re-appreciate pedagogy. Here I want to suggest that what comes to the fore is a focus on flourishing and of the significance of the person of the pedagogue (Smith and Smith 2008). In addition, three elements things out about the processes of the current generation of specialist pedagogues. First, they are heirs to the ancient Greek process of accompanying. Second, their pedagogy involves a significant amount of helping and caring for. Third, they are engaged in what we can call ‘bringing learning to life’. Woven into those processes are theories and beliefs that we also need to attend to (see Alexander 2000: 541). To reword and add to Robin Alexander (2004: 11) pedagogy can be approached as what we need to know, the skills we need to command, and the commitments we need to live in order to make and justify the many different kinds of decisions needed to be made.
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If we insist that all students write about everything they have learned in their study courses at the same time and in the same place (e.g. in examinations), we are not giving all of our students equal opportunities. Some students are not daunted by the exam experience while others suffer ‘exam nerves’ and perform at the lowest level of their capabilities. (Wonderland University, 2006, p. 4)
The idea of pedagogy and teaching as a craft got a significant boost in the 1990s through the work of Brown and McIntyre (1993). Their research showed, that day-to-day, the work of experienced teachers had a strong base in what is best described as a ‘craft knowledge’ of ideas, routines and situations. In much the same way that C Wright Mills talked of ‘intellectual craftsmanship’, so we can think of pedagogy as involving certain commitments and processes.