PCE 2014 – Opening Space For Critical Pedagogy


The following texts were conceived, drafted and compiled during the TDSIG Pre-Conference Event held at IATEFL 2014 in Harrogate.   Almost 60 delegates participated in this all-day event, which included framing talks and workshops by Divya Madhavan, Willy Cardoso and Luke Meddings as well as a lot of time devoted to discussion and collaborative work in open space.

Group 1

Sinead -how to incorporate CP into initial teacher training.

Huseiyn -How to change teacher student empowerment regarding decision making, specifically in terms of contributing to curriculum and assessment issues and teacher development.

Mark – 50% idea, how to use the 50% in praxis, how to incorporate that in small scale task project. Identify teachers who might be able to do it in their schools.

Divya – I want to work out how to make teachers public intellectuals and how we can get education systems to recognise them as such.

Luke – “what can we do about this”, further exploration of 50-free. How can these things cross national boundaries?

“First we need to get teachers to recognise themselves as intellectuals”

We remain in a mystified world where teachers have internalized negative self-images.

A lot of talk on the hidden curriculum

Not letting business vocabulary spill into education- parents are not stakeholders,

It’s not just about doing things as a teacher but as a human being in the society.

My participatory pedagogy project (ref current iTDi blog)

Huseiyn civic engagement project, with specific emphasis on ecology. Writing tasks based on such ’real’ activities

Alternative modes of assessment- Luke and Mark
Asking qualitative questions;
“What colour was this course”
“What shape was this course”
“Who most enjoy this course”

The revolution of everyday life. The overtaking of everyday forms of qualitative inquiry with quantitative stuff.

Gradual changes are very important- don’t do too much at once. Letting go of power, giving authorship, ownership.

Getting teachers (especially trainee teachers) to articulate their expertise. Asking people what they’re good at, finding little activities to get them to say what they’re good at.

What are the building blocks that need to be put in place? How do we get people (teachers/teacher trainers) to help (students/trainees) less?

Marching through the institutions to achieve your aims, not leaving them to one side.

A critical approach to course books, allowing room to critique them. Getting students to talk about what they’re interested in, what they get out of course books. Getting beyond that.

We always underestimate what students can do.

Significant space is available in our classrooms, in all contexts, but we should grow the space.

Advocacy for a project like Fifty-free might eventually place pressure on policy-makers.

Embedding a logo like Fifty-free into different classrooms, practitioner materials

“My ideal world is”
-one where the curriculum is broader
-one where children are tested less
-one where education isn’t cut up into individual subject
-one where interdisciplinary thought becomes a reality much earlier
-one where language departments and social studies departments were one
-one where we look at how children play and learn how to teach from that.
-one where we assess what happens outside the classroom and not just what happens inside

Group 2

How do I convince policy makers/ administrators to see value in and provide support and time for longer-term ongoing development (culture circles, sharing sessions, peer development groups) rather than just “training”.

1. ideal picture
A regularly timetabled slot for all teachers during the week to get together to spend a significant period of time (2-3 hours every two weeks) sharing experience, learning from each other, discussing important issues, sharing materials and approaches and reporting on changes to teaching practice.
Facilitated by a senior teacher, supervisor or administrator with teaching experience.
These groups feed information back to the central administration on teacher development needs, and actual development activities.
Development groups run for a term with an end of term report-back session run for facilitators

2. what steps have been taken
A small number of motivated teachers have been identified to start a number of development groups.
A workshop has been run for them where facilitation skills, sample activities and recipes for teacher development activities have been demonstrated and adapted to context.
A non-labour intensive reporting system is agreed.
Cooperative head-teachers enable timetabling of development groups.

3. what can be done in the next month
Explain project to policy makers with a clear picture of how it will benefit the system
Fund the pilot.
Identify the key motivated teachers. (Identify individual’s values and find common values to work)
Run the orientation to development groups workshop.

How do I show professors at our department that my work (practical teaching) is valuable.

1. ideal picture
My colleagues have realised that you need to be properly trained to be able to teach well. The idea that anybody who can speak English can also teach it at the university level is a matter of the past. Teachers of practical English classes are respected and our work valued.

2. what steps have been taken
Feedback system has been changed. Instead of being a very private thing that is only seen by the lecturer in question, head of department and the dean, the results are now made public. This helped professors realise that the work of teachers of practical classes is highly valued by the students. This shifted the attitude from looking down on teachers of practical classes to understanding that their (our) work contributes a lot to our students’ learning.

3. what can be done in the next month
Suggest a different feedback system: different, more useful questions and the results made public.

How do I implement a qualitatively assessed language programme in a culture where students expect a transmission, grammar-driven model of teaching.

3. ideal picture
A course and classroom environment where students are able to self and peer-assess independently, and able and willing to interact, question and drive the content of the lesson, rather than sit passively and disengaged

4. what steps have been taken
systematic learner training, possibly in small group or a pilot programme to test and explore different ways of implementing this element of learner training in the Hong Kong context

4. what can be done in the next month
small focus groups with teachers, planning and goal setting for a select number of test groups/classes to experiment with and measure changes affected by different learner training activities

Group 3image