Tomy Ward Education
Education for Critical Times
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Monday, 28 July 2014 10:34

Critical Education Praxis in a Time of Global Crises: Critical Pedagogy in Bicultural Community Development

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There are two papers here. One on Theory, the other on Practice. They are interconneted, and deal with the important relationship between the two essential spheres of activity in any project that aims to be part of a process of social, cultural anf political transformation.  Together, these spheres are indivisible. Together, as a form of praxis they constitute the indispensible requirement for effective activism. Each depends on the other for its meaning, existence and effectieness. Separate, each is not only meaningless, but contributes to the conterproductice reinforcement and reproduction of the status quo power. As academics we like to talk. We theorise endlessly about the best way to teach to bring about social change. When we do act, it is usually within the relatively safe confines of our own academic world. But as Paulo Freire has so beautifully noted:

"It is very common to find intellectuals who authoritatively discuss the right of the subordinated classes to liberate themselves. The mere act of talking about the working class as objects of their reflections smacks of elitism on the part of these intellectuals. There is only one way to overcome this elitism, which is also authoritarian and implies an inconsistency in intellectuals' revolutionary discourse. These intellectuals ought to stop speaking about and start speaking with the working classes. When educators expose themselves to the working classes, they automatically begin to become re-educated" (Freire, P. and Macedo, D., 1987. Literacy: Reading the Word and the World, New York, Routledge and Kegan Paul:136).

Both were written for the Critical Pedagogy Conference: Critical Education In and Era of Crisis, in Thessaloniki, Greece, in June 2014.

The title of the two papers: Capitalism and Community Health: An Indigenous Perspective, refers to a project conducted in my small New Zealand town of Whakatane (population 15,000) - a town serving a 50% indigenous Maori community that heads the statistics in all of the major negative social indicators. This is the story of a project that aims to correct this unacceptable situation - the design and development of a bicultural Community Hub, conceived, developed and operated by the community. Both Joe Kincheloe and Paulo Freire have stressed the importance of working outside of Western European culture and of immersing oneself and assimilate the feelings and sensitivites in the knowledge and epistemologies that move in ways unimaginable to many Western academic impulses. Kincheloe observes that only now, in the Twenty-first Century, are European peoples just starting to appreciate the value of indigenous knowledge(s) about health, medicine, agriculture, philosophy, spirituality, ecology and education. We have much to learn, as academics, from these cultures, not only about their cultures but also about our own - about our rapacious greed, our exploitation of planetary resources, our poverty-stricken individualism, and abouth the arrogance with which we continue to assume that we are God's gift to the planet; the mistaken belief that with our capitalism we have a superior world view that needs to be spread ever more completely through a process of neocolonialism.

The work presented here takes the domain of Community Health as its starting point. It compares modern western models with a number of different indigenous models, before developing a more explicit and wholistic model of community develomet which then forms part of the Practice that is described in Part 2.

To download Part 1: The Theory. click here

To download Part 2: The Practice, click here.


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