The acclaimed lyricist Oscar Hammerstein once wrote, "You have to be carefully taught." Most will agree that properly educating children is essential for the good of a society. However, the best method of educating students is a much more debatable topic. What is the best way to educate a student? Is it through memorization? Discussion? Exploration? Experimentation? Through the ages many scholars, teachers, and other accredited individuals have offered their opinions on the science of teaching, or pedagogy. One such man is Henry Giroux, the author of Modernism, Postmodernism, and Feminism. In his introductory chapter to this novel, Giroux sets his principles for critical pedagogy. Among these principles is one belief that reads, "Critical pedagogy needs to create new forms of knowledge through its emphasis on breaking down disciplinary boundaries and creating new spaces where knowledge can be produced."
What does this belief mean to me? In order to understand my interpretation of the principle as a whole, it is necessary to understand my interpretations of the various words and phrases that make up the rule. Take the first phrase, "… to create new forms of knowledge…" I interpret "new forms of knowledge" as knowledge expressed in forms other than the traditional. For example, "old" forms of knowledge may be names, dates, numbers, and concrete facts that are memorized without being fully understood. On the other hand, "new" forms of knowledge may refer to abstract ideas, concepts, and theory, without definite answers. The next phrase of the principle speaks of, "…breaking down disciplinary boundaries…" I would define "disciplinary boundaries" as any boundaries or limits that prevent learning from taking pla...
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...-hand. For example, no one should have to figure out on their own body that hair is flammable, or that a wet tongue will stick to a metal flagpole on a cold day.
So, does critical pedagogy really need to create new forms of knowledge through its emphasis on breaking down disciplinary boundaries and creating new places where knowledge can be developed? Learning in this manner can be beneficial because the information is better understood, more fully realized, and more easily applied by the student. However, this manner of learning can also be counter-productive because the information is obtained much more slowly, and little effort is made to learn from previous research and mistakes. What is the most effective way to teach? While the best method of teaching will be under constant scrutiny, all will agree on one point. You have to be carefully taught.
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