My critical pedagogy views teaching as a collaborative, culturally responsive activity that resists top-down banking models of learning while remaining sensitive to the need for teacher authority in the classroom. It aims to produce lifelong critical readers who are adept at identifying their own and others’ assumptions and who can be ambassadors for the liberal arts. To achieve these goals my pedagogy focuses on developing students’ critical thinking and writing skills, technological literacy, and knowledge of a range of literary and cultural texts. Inspired teaching happens in the presence of stimulated, informed students. As a result, my critical pedagogy challenges and empowers students to be invested in their education.
To foster engagement during class discussion I ask students to evaluate the creation and state of our knowledge. What do we know? What do we need to learn for the future? What do we want to learn? Why? Discussion and writing prompts also follow active learning protocols, asking students to synthesize course material rather than memorize banked responses. I teach as an expert and a joint learner to model lifelong learning. Students are teachers as well as learners. Individual and team assignments reflect this philosophy. Students regularly share work with classmates, the instructor, and the larger community in presentations and web-based forums, public reviews of local arts events, and public Zotero annotated bibliographies.
A classroom and public pedagogy demanding critical self-reflection necessitates a democratic learning environment, or a space that fosters mutual respect by accommodating mistakes, different learning styles, opinions, cultures, and expressions. Acceptance of diversity does not mean that statements are made and accepted at face value. A democratic classroom is not necessarily a comfortable classroom. Rather than ignore controversial or difficult issues, my role as instructor is to help guide the class through struggles. I am specifically committed to fostering discussion about class, race, sexuality, and gender issues. I use a variety of low risk assignments—including anonymous midterm feedback, reading journals, and informal electronic message boards—to allow students to explore their arguments and provide me with constructive feedback. Thus, by breaking hierarchical teaching models, assuring my course pays critical attention to the intersections of race, gender, sexuality and class, and fostering a learning environment attentive to the needs of students from a variety of subject positions and backgrounds, my teaching pedagogy can also be summarized in one word: feminist.