I’ve been reading a lot of the work of Jennifer Gore and Carmen Luke after my supervisor recommended that I engage more with other variants of what might be called radical (in the sense of challenging dominant discourses) pedagogy as I try to position my work and theory building amongst these different schools of thought. This is part of a larger concept: originally, I was going to draw solely on critical pedagogy (or, more accurately, as Gore identifies, critical pedagogies) but I think that my work is influenced by a lot more than simply critical pedagogy – in fact, it draws from a wide range of radical and progressive educational theories and pedagogies, and I should probably acknowledge these. My supervisor also suggested that I consider my work as something new and innovative – and hence, not critical pedagogy but something else Precisely what I might call that is the challenge – there are examples of this, like Pedagogies of Empowerment, Pedagogies of Hope, Pedagogies of Possibility. I’m not sure what I would call mine, but I think it should relate to three key parts: firstly, it’s collective. Secondly, it’s about empowerment. Thirdly, it is youth-focused. I’ll think about this and decide on something later.
The first point that Gore makes is that pedagogy has a lot of different meanings – it has a social conception, as well as a meaning related to different classroom practices. In addition, both Feminist Pedagogies and Critical Pedagogies have variants or strands within them, and there are similarities between the way these two discourses create meaning, depending on whether pedagogy is emphasized, or whether feminist or critical is emphasized. Finally, these two discourses, for the most part, do not speak to each other about their shared theory building, instead choosing to ignore the contributions the other makes to their field. Gore then constructs an argument suggesting that both discourses operate as Foucault’s Regimes of Truth, and this is the reason for their unwillingness to engage with each other’s points of view.
Briefly, then: CP either engages with pedagogy or it does not. Giroux and McLaren emphasize a broad social vision which has, admittedly, failed to materialize. Shor and Freire, on the other hand, while retaining the theoretical sophistication of Giroux or McLaren, place more importance on actual classroom practices, and draw from their own experiences in the classroom to do.
In FP, then, those feminists that emphasise educational theory strangely enough focus on broader social issues, while those who focus on Women’s Studies seem more attached to pedagogy.