Culture as Part of Learning … Essay
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The author of this brief report has been asked to synthesize and analyze, rather than simply summarize, a chapter from the Nieto text about pedagogy and empowerment. A good read of the chapter reveals some strong and prescient points about learning and how to empower people to do the same. What follows in this report is a set of ruminations and reflections about what comes to mind while going through the chapter and really thinking about the implications of what is said by Nieto. Just a taste of what is to come includes the aforementioned empowerment, how culture can and should be used as a tool to pass knowledge and how students are spurring some transformation of their own when it comes to the schools that they inhabit and learn in. While some may show disdain for focusing on what makes people different, it should instead be looked upon as something that cannot and should not be ignored or bypassed.
Nieto starts the fifth chapter by discussing what precisely critical pedagogy is and how it dovetails with empowerment. Something that really hit a nerve with the author of this report is states "most students usually do not have access to a wide range of viewpoints, but this is essential if they are to develop the important critical judgment and decision-making skills they will need to become productive members of a democratic society" (Nieto, 1999, p. 131). This rings a bell because so many children nowadays are only shown a mere portion of the world and how it operates as they grow and develop. The reasons and scope of this limitation varies and can run the gamut from religious views (some extreme), poverty or other things. Regardless, parents are often guilty of wittingly or unwittingly giving a closed perspective about what the world is truly like, even at a strictly basic level, and this is extremely reckless to say the least. When considering all of this when comparing it to what critical pedagogy is, this can set learning children behind the curve as they start off with a very limited perspective. That all being said, the author of this report that Nieto goes a little too far when it is said that the aim of pedagogy is to help in the "developing of the important social action predispositions and attitudes that are the backbone of a democratic society, and learning to use them to help alter patterns of domination and oppression" (Nieto, 1999, p. 130). The reason the author of this report urges caution when it comes to that phrase is that too much focus on race, culture and differences is not a good thing because focusing on what makes us different potentially contributes to the divisiveness that pervades society in the United States right now. To be sure, telling the truth (gradually) to young learners about the world we live in and what is happening is one thing. However, indoctrinating students in a way that defines precisely what is "oppression" is quite another. For example, there are some that say that crime is a product of an unequal society. Others say that crime is a manifestation of free will run amok when some people decide to do the wrong thing. Reasonable people can debate and disagree about which one of those is correct (or more correct). However, only preaching from a certain perspective is not a good idea. The key should be to teach kids how to think and not what to think.
Another important topic mentioned in the chapter and that the author of this report touched upon in the introduction is multiculturalism as a part of critical pedagogy. Once again, this is something that has to be done carefully. For example, there is a fine line between suggesting that being proud of one's heritage is a good thing. On the other hand, allowing anyone (minority or not) to feel any sort of superiority as compared to other races or to engender any sort of animosity between different cultures (even if unintentional) is not a way to go. Even so, using culture as a means to make the teachings relatable to the students can be a key way to facilitate and advance learning. Indeed, learning about other cultures and the strong upsides of diversity are… [END OF PREVIEW]
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