Critical Pedagogy and Higher Education: ?Really Useful Civic Engagement?

Connolly, Brid (2014) Critical Pedagogy and Higher Education: ?Really Useful Civic Engagement?


Civic engagement is making a very welcome debut in the strategic plans of many Higher Education Institutions, HEIs, but many senior officers are sitting at their PCs, furiously Googling to find out what it is all about. In adult and community education, we have had a long history of community and civic engagement, particularly with people who would have otherwise been outside the interest of educational institutions, except, perhaps to swell the numbers of non-traditional students. However, the social purpose of community engagement would be seriously undermined if HEIs adopted it without interrogating their own motives, and ensuring that it is a mutually beneficial co-operation.; ; Critical pedagogy is a fundamental process in the interrogation for social purposes. Critical HE educators have a responsibility towards creating a challenging and consciousness raising learning environment for their students, but what about the responsibility towards those, outside the institutions, who are integrally involved in civic engagement?; ; This article will argue that critical educators have to look at their own practice and philosophy, using the lens of critical pedagogy. It will draw on the work of Freire, with regards to adult basic education, Giroux, in the overall educational context, but most specifically, with bell hooks on her advocacy around engaged pedagogy, with its grounding in feminist and civil rights education. Thus, it will explore the potential of these approaches to underpin the community engagement visions to ensure that communities are not stripped of their intellectual assets, on the one hand, and that HEIs are open to the learning emanating from their involvement with communities.

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