May 10th Synthesis

We began our discussion with a focus on casuistry, a major focus in Lynch’s text. A casuistic pedagogy includes tailoring the decision making process to take into account past experiences that, while of course not the same, include aspects that can influence how a teacher sees a current situation. A part of this can also be related to Davis’ ideas of the “black market economy,” where certain situations call for a new sort of decision making process that does not stick to or evaluate from the traditional set of rules. Based on this, Dylan asked about the class’s own casuistic pedagogical experiences, and the ways in which certain experiences have influenced how they handle new situations. This led us to the question of how important it is to make our reflective processes overt, as we discussed that we are always in the process of evaluating certain situations based on previous experiences and reflections. For example, we discussed how in Kasey’s blog post, she brought up how her male-majority classroom interactions were different from her female majority classroom interactions, and this was influenced in part by her previous experiences with negotiating authority. This raises the question of the role of conscious reflection and seemingly unconscious reflection and how they influence a casuistic pedagogy.


Following our discussion of casuistry, Josh asked whether anyone had thoughts or reactions to the questions Lynch poses at the bottom of page 45. Rachel and others agreed that it didn’t seem as though Lynch fully addressed these significant questions–his literature review seemed to point out a number of ideas that were left somewhat neglected afterward. To my question, Rachel also pointed us to page 49, where Lynch observes “The teacher is positioned as a receptor of Acts rather than as their producer.” After taking a moment to (re?)read the text surrounding the questions on page 45 (to recall his aim in that section), we also acknowledged that Lynch claims: “When I’m asking about the sustainability of postpedagogy, I do not mean to ask how it can be turned into a program. I mean to ask how I can inhabit the attitudes that postpedagogy encourages, given that I am, as Burke would say, rotten with perfection and goaded by the spirit of hierarchy” (51).


Kasey’s question focused on reflection which may take place between Lynch’s “Monday morning” and “Tuesday morning.” Dr. Campbell had coined this the “Monday evening question” and discussed Dewey’s cultivated naiveté. We also discussed Dewey’s meditative approach to teaching and its connections to cultivated naiveté, mostly how one can be an experienced beginner teacher and, by gaining more experience, one can disrobe that experience in order to be open to new experiences. The handout we were given encouraged us to think about cultivating practices to reflect on experience and response between teaching classes. Some argued that this happens inherently, while others expressed keeping a written record or journal of teaching experiences may be useful. We also discussed how talking about our teaching experiences can help us reflect and lead to new insights. We completed and improve activity called “yes, and” to challenge how we respond and we could not ask questions or deny anything a peer previously shared. We had to affirm and enter the space of our peers. We reflected how “yes, and” affected our responses to one another and may connect to response in the classroom. To end class, we all shared our reflections of the course overall. Then, we headed over to Hopper’s for refreshments and good conversation.

Blog Post for May 3rd Readings

hi all,

As I mentioned in class last week, my research project will be focusing on asserting the importance of considering classrooms, schools, and universities themselves as commodified spaces and places (ambiences as Rickert might call them) when discussing postpedagogical theories (which Paul Lynch will discuss in our reading next week). In thinking along these lines, I was particularly struck by Elizabeth Ellsworth’s introduction to her aim in Places of Learning. As she claims in setting up her argument, “Bodies have affective somatic responses as they inhabit a pedagogy’s time and space… Because this experience arises out of an assemblage of mind/brain/body with the time and space of pedagogy, we must approach an investigation into the experience of learning self through that assemblage” (4-5). I agree emphatically with this claim. The assemblage in which the institutionalized experience of learning occurs, as a paid for privilege or commodity (whether via taxes or tuition), is a space that indeed is in need of deeper inquiry. However, she finds that “The pedagogical anomalies that form the impetus for this book are difficult to see as pedagogy only when we view them from the ‘center’ of dominant educational discourses and practices—a position that takes knowledge to be a thing already made and learning to be an experience already known” (5). I find, though, perhaps it is difficult to see her approach to learning as “pedagogy” in an institutional sense, but not in a philosophical one. As we have discussed in class, the institutionalized learning environment cannot hope to insight “enlightenment” or an awakened citizenry, due to its complexly hypocritical emplacement within the existing networks of power. Instead, as Rickert asserts in his Acts of Enjoyment, we can only hope to inspire an Act, or a gesture that seeks to change the very foundation for the existing discourses. Instead, I find it is easier to see Ellsworth’s notion of Learning as inspired by an autodidactic approach to learning. It strives to inspire the student who sees all places as a space for learning, regardless of the context or the presence of a grading eye. An awareness of this position re-acknowledges the cynicism-inducing impact of the ambiences of institutionalized-learning while also acknowledging the theoretical power that a place-oriented theory to learning, such as Ellsworth’s, can provide.


As a concluding question: can we, rather than seeking to enlighten in our pedagogies, strive to inspire autodidacticism from within our problematic position as educators?




Critical Pedagogy

Critical Pedagogy


[critical pedagogues do not endorse vandalism] 

The central focus of critical pedagogy is student empowerment and the creation of an involved citizenry. Ann George’s chapter of A Guide to Composition Pedagogies, “Critical Pedagogies: Dreaming of Democracy” attempts to discuss the significance of four questions to the discourse of critical pedagogues:

  1. What does a critical writing classroom look like?
  2. Can we create democratic classrooms within traditional institutions?
  3. Is the goal to produce radical student activists? How?
  4. Is Freirean pedagogy applicable to American schools?
  5. How might we understand student resistance to leftist critiques? (80)

While these are conversations still happening among scholars, more recent thought has moved towards the importance of classroom experience in informing critical pedagogy more than any specific theoretical or methodological approach.