Critical Pedagogy and the Mythopoetic: A Case Study from Adelaide’s Northern Urban Fringe
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This paper reports on a series of interviews from within a critical action research study with teachers in Adelaide’s northern fringe. These interviews focused on what motivated and sustained teachers who had worked for many years within an area of significant socioeconomic challenge. In the context of a synthesis between critical and mythopoetic approaches to educational practice, the paper explores features of the personal and professional lives of teachers. Among the features that emerge include: the interpersonal nature of the relationship between teachers and students; the complexity and paradox in public schools that seek to achieve accountability through power-oriented regimes of testing and curricula; the presence of emotional labour, love, and hope in teachers’ work; and the role of powerful metaphors in sustaining teachers in the pursuit of spaces of social justice in students’ school experience. The voices that emerge from these interviews demonstrate that an approach to critical pedagogy that ignores the interpersonal, the imaginal, and the emotional is an insufficient basis for achieving critical aims. The paper contends that the head, heart, and hands are required for socially just middle school reform.
KeywordsCritical Theory School Reform Emotional Labor Critical Pedagogy Teacher Identity
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