a librarian reflects on the first week of #MOOCMOOC

I first discovered Paulo Freire on the dusty street corners of Bissau, where dog-eared, well-used copies of his books could be found in plenitude. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t read any of them, but I remembered the name! For the purposes of this blog post, I want to reflect on two ideas mentioned/alluded to in chapter two of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the teacher-student contradiction, and meta-consciousness. Then close with thoughts on the Emily Dickinson poem, “From all the jails the Boys and Girls.” .

But first a digression. Is it just me, or am I seeing shades and shadows of Fanon throughout the reading. Does anyone know if Freire and Fanon ever met? I am sensing a very strong connection…

I begin teaching next week. I am very excited about it. And worried just a bit. Will I emulate my previous instructors and aim to be “the sage on the stage?” Or will I exert effort to break away from the old mold and earnestly seek to resolve the teacher-student contradiction that Freire talks about? I am a librarian, and so much of library instruction is “one shot” teaching, definitely the “banking method,“ where one tries to pour as much information into the students’ heads as possible in that one hour per semester. But how about a new method? How about we turn the students loose, in the stacks and in the databases, and set them on a path of true, memorable, and transformative discovery, discovery in the stacks? Some preparation will be necessary. We will need to “flip the classroom” and encourage a certain amount of “programmed” self-learning prior to the encounter.

But that brings up another issue, one which will repeat itself as we proceed. Is there a foundational need for critical information literacy that underlies the critical pedagogy push? Or is that just an effort to dichotomize, to postpone, to obfuscate students’ engagement. Freire says the teacher-student “…is not ‘cognitive’ at one point and ‘narrative’ at another. She is always ‘cognitive,’ whether preparing a project or engaging in dialogue with the students…In this way, the problem-posing educator constantly re-forms his reflections in the reflections of the students…the role of the problem-posing educator is to create; together with the students, the conditions under which knowledge at the level of the doxa (common belief/popular opinion) is superseded by true knowledge, at the level of the logos (knowledge of a higher system of thinking and of the world).” (p. 81)

to be continued…