September 21, 2004

Links between Critical Pedagogy, CD and Autonomy

To tie up the threads from the last post:
I think there are connections and similarities between CD (Collaborative Development), Critical Pedagogy and Autonomy in language learning.

First, there is the fact that the AYA writers chose to collaborate on their anthology, and some are actively engaged in CD (and mention it in their articles). Some of the contributors also included excerpts from their dialogues/emails with their collaborator(s) in the body of their articles, and some even brought this exchange to the forefront.

Tim Murphey suggests in the AYA book that teachers who have an ongoing dialogue with colleagues about teaching, learning, language-learning, etc., tend to be better teachers. Without looking at the evidence, my experience and instinct would support that. The AYA book is an excellent example of teachers doing just that.

The kind of dialogues that Tim Murphey means, and which is so well exemplified in the AYA book is not just an exchange of information, but a dialogue that involves a constant questioning of assumptions, givens and attitudes. Collaborative partners, dialogue partners question and help uncover hidden assumptions and points of view in each other. This attitude on the part of the "teacher" seems crucial to critical pedagogy (see Critical Pedagogies and Language Learning referred to previously, especially the final chapter, the one by Alastair Pennycook).

Autonomy, as I mentioned in the previous post, has several radical elements, or perhaps I can say that there is a radical version of autonomy, and various non- or lesser radical versions (see Edith Esch's chapter in Autonomy and Independence in Language Learning by Phil Benson and Peter Voller (Longman 1996)).

And it seems to me that this radical element is connected with, supported by, the questioning, critical form of dialogues entered into by the contributors to the AYA book.

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