Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Pedagogy of Poverty Versus Good Teaching

In The Pedagogy of Poverty Versus Good Teaching, Martin Haberman describes the inadequate, ineffective pedagogy thast has become alarmingly commonplace in urban schools. Without meticulously characterizing Haberman's "pedagogy of poverty", the system consist of teachers performing the most basic of functions, where the classroom environment rewards the passive compliance of the students, and establishes a disparate power structure between the teacher and student. The teacher assumes the role of authoritatian, and students take the role as passive observers.
I would like to spend most of this entry discussing Haberman's criteria for good teaching. Most of what he describes as good teaching practices are classic examples of critical/creative/caring/Philosophical thinking. Good teaching is occuring when students are examining human differences. This exemplifies the CT skills of making distinctions, and can dvelop a students ability to understnd different perspectives. Good teaching is about examining major concepts, big ideas, and general principals. These inquiries involve making generalizations, and constructing meaning through philosophical thought. Understanding big ideas allow students to grasp concepts, which leads students to become vested in the material. It is undeniable that students are more likely to connect with material if they understand it's important implications. Good teaching involves students "planning what they will be doing", according to Haberman, which involves student-centered learning. Again, no rational person would disagree that activities which incorporate the interests of the students are more effective than the opposing condition. Good teaching is occuring when students apply ideals like fairness, equity, and justice. Philosophically speaking, these are typical examples of common, central, contestable themes. Practically speaking, these ideals can be applied to many facets of life such as the student's life as democratic citizens, global human rights, ideal practices for living in a community, and often even religious ideals. Haberman claims that good teaching incorporates active learning and the active involvement of the students. This coincides with the project method, which disserts that effective learning involves students' active, hands-on participation. Real-life and hands-on experiences have no eqivalent substitute. Haberman also claims that good teaching is going on when students question assumptions. Questioning assumptions is a valuable dimension of critical thinking. He says that good teaching is occuring when students are redoing, polishing, and perfecting their work. These actions are examples of self-correction, which is another valuable critical thinking skill. Finally, reflective thinking is part of good teaching. Students who engage in this skill are more likely to improve their abilities, as they can act as sensors of their own actions, and can therefore benefit from changing themselves for the better.

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