I’m trying to write something about radical education or critical pedagogy at the moment. I’m particularly interested in how it can inform the development of career guidance practice which seeks to enhance social justice.
One of the problems with talking about radical education is that it is a complex and pluralistic tradition. It is possible to name some names who we associate with it (Friere, Illich, Giroux and so on) and to have a sense of what it means, but it is more difficult to define. Radical education is politically engaged, leftist, and participatory. It is for the poor and powerless and for equality and difference. It is critical of traditional education practice and makes the argument that education fosters hierachy and inequality.
However, in thinking about the implications for guidance I’m going to need to nail it down a bit more clearly and to describe what radical education practice looks like to provide a basis for innovations in the guidance field. So I’ve come up with the following four component definition.
Radical education practice is about…
1) Fostering criticality and an understanding of both text and context. So engagement in radical education is about building your understanding of what you are studying and how it fits into the world.
2) Offering participants an opportunity for democratic participation in and co-production of education. Radical education provides us with opportunities to experience the power and compromise that characterise democracy. It offers up the curriculum and the outcomes of learning as a site for democratic decision making.
3) Empowering participants by helping them to develop both individual and collective solutions to their problems. It helps people to realise that despite the inequalities that exist in society they have agency and the power to change and control their lives. In particular it encourages them to see that democratic collective action is the most effective weapon of the poor and less powerful.
These first three factors can all take place in the classroom/learning space. However the fourth, and arguably most important, component of radical education is
(4) The participation in Praxis. Most challengingly radical education asks its participants to put learning into practice. It argues that ideas should lead to actions and that political activity creates radical opportunities for learning and changing the world.
So what do people think? Is this a viable definition? How should I develop it/change it to increase clarity and connect it more effectively with the tradition?
As ever any ideas are appreciated.