|dc.description.abstract||In this thesis, I explore the experiences of English language teachers who have knowledge of the theory and practice of critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogy is grounded on a vision of impacting social change through education and in the context of English language teaching (ELT), personal and social reform is sought through language education. Critical pedagogy is greatly needed at a time when the world continues to suffer from violence, poverty, war, injustice, and environmental change. In the midst of such adversity, critical pedagogy seeks to bring forth a hope for an improved and transformed future. Teachers who engage with critical pedagogy make a stand for justice and equity in their respective classrooms and are intent on nurturing students to become critic and conscience of society.
The teachers who participated in this study were from various higher education institutions that were located in different parts of the world. Eleven teachers self-identified as ‘critical pedagogues’, while two others had rejected critical pedagogy in their professional practice. I conducted semi-structured interviews with these thirteen teachers who were from Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Turkey, the US and the UK. Many had also lived and taught in other countries, and so they also drew from their experiences in Australia, Nepal, Indonesia, South Africa, Macedonia, Poland and Hungary. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and were then analysed based on a general inductive approach. The themes that emerged from my analysis related to why teachers became critical pedagogues, how they implemented critical pedagogy in their ELT classrooms, and how they and their students were affected by this process. Additionally, I found out why two teachers who were familiar with the theory of critical pedagogy had decided to reject it.
The choice to become a critical pedagogue was a value driven one. There were five main influences including the theoretical, pedagogical, religious, institutional and political values that the teachers had been exposed to. When these teachers embedded critical pedagogy in their respective classrooms, they ensured that students’ experiences were prioritised. So, they sought to negotiate and co-construct knowledge with their students. Besides that, an environment of trust was created because teachers problem-posed topics that were politically charged and related to students’ experiences. Lastly, ELT teachers who were critical pedagogues researched their students learning experiences so that they could find out more about the impact of adopting critical pedagogy.
It was found that critical pedagogy had its share of challenges, and one of the main reasons was that it was largely ‘unknown’. As a result, some teachers found themselves dealing with their personal safety and had to learn to manage a considerable amount of emotional upheaval. In addition, teachers faced resistance and antagonism from those within and outside their institutions. Despite such challenges, all continued to work with critical pedagogy, and in the process found themselves transformed as teachers. They gained new perspectives of the world, and also became critically reflective. They also reported that they observed transformations in their students. Students were seen to gain new worldviews and changed their lives outside the classroom. Furthermore, students were transformed as language learners because they were learning a language that was connected to their immediate reality and experiences.
In this thesis, I also explored the views of teachers who did not subscribe to critical pedagogy. Data showed that their decision to do so was also one that was driven by values. They sought to remain neutral in the classroom, because they did not want to enforce any particular ideology on their students. The rejection of critical pedagogy was attributed to a personal ethical position that these teachers held on to.
The findings from this study provide implications for both critical pedagogy and ELT teaching and research. Firstly, teachers may want to consider how ideology and indoctrination can be used for virtuous purposes when focused on transforming social life. Secondly, the risks and consequences of engaging with critical pedagogy need to be managed. Thirdly, teachers may want to strengthen the voice of critical pedagogy outside the classroom through action research and develop communities of practice (COP). These implications will be useful for critical pedagogy researchers and teachers who find themselves inspired and want to contribute to its theory and practice.||