The Critical approach to curriculum

This article is about the critical approach to curriculum. Those who embrace the critical approach to curriculum consider education as a political act, one that should function in liberated ways (Piner 1978). This is a topic under subject knowledge and curriculum for B.Ed. I will give links for further reference at the end of the article.

The critical approach to curriculum

  • Paolo Freire (1985) was a pioneer of this approach. He was a Brazilian adult literacy educator who worked with laborers, peasants etc. He was greatly influenced by his experiences with these economically marginalized social class.
  • The critical approach assumes that education is a value-laden process.
  • Learners actively create knowledge as they participate in learning by taking a critical look at who has power and what impact that power has on the lives of those without it.
  • This way learners recognize the casual and circumstantial relationships that cause social injustice.
  • Gaining power with words transfers into gaining personal power and making a change in the world.
  • Freire’s theories and curricula that comes out of them promote critical thinking, dialogue, and discussion making activities that support democratic ideals and move towards socially critical consciousness.
  • In developing critical curriculum, teachers must first learn about important issues in their student’s lives through conversation, journaling, discussions and lots of listening.
  • This research enables teachers to identify issues that relate to the experiences and concerns student’s identity.
  • Reading and writing develop one after another with critical thinking skills and literacy learning becomes a means of transforming student’s lives and communities.
  • Often, a unit of curriculum ends with meaningful action that addresses community needs.
  • In critical approach
    1. Teachers lead the class while following the leads of learners.
    2. The form of knowledge gained is fixed and depends on interaction among students, texts and teachers. Knowledge is created rather than taken in.
    3. Here education is political. Both language and power are connected.
    4. It addresses social and community issues of importance.
    5. The curriculum is not set in advance. It emerges from “action and interaction of the participants” [Doll, 1993]
    6. Learning is assessed through the portfolio, self-assessment instruments, measures of social and political change and levels of critical consciousness reached. Here external performance levels do not apply

Advantages of Critical approach to curriculum

  1. It does not ignore the difficulties that learners face in life and provides a way for learners to meet them head-on.
  2. It is motivating as it does not create a separation between a learner’s life and what they are learning.
  3. It helps the learner bridge the classroom/real world divide.
  4. It is helpful in social justice embracement.

Disadvantages of Critical approach to curriculum

  1. It is time-consuming.
  2. Teachers need a particular set of facilitation skills to teach reading and writing.
  3. Learners may be uneasy as they are not familiar with it.
  4. Since taking action in a crucial element of the curriculum teachers need to recognize the potential that learner’s actions may cause a backlash from the powers that are being questioned.
Further References on Critical approach to curriculum
In the above pages look for the pdf download to get more in-depth and accurate knowledge on this topic.

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