Ania Lian's commentary
It would seem that the issue of the conflicting interests
that meet in a classroom environment, and the question of who should give
in and why, are products of beliefs engendered in the institutions of education
It is my contention that classrooms do not so much provide safe spaces but
rather act as a means for insulating students from confronting reality as
they experience it in the “real world” and hence from confronting themselves
in the world as they actually know it. The authority of teachers in the classroom
environment does not come from the support that they offer, or from the power
to reward or punish students. Rather, it comes from the power that teachers
assume as the protectors of learners and hence as a filter between learners
and the reality to which they seek to introduce them.
Safe classroom environments, protective teachers and collaborative teaching
techniques, together, look more like a fabricated illusion in a world which,
otherwise, critical pedagogues view as constructed in terms of conflict-based
power struggles (cf. Giroux 1988, 1991, 1994; Luke 1991). The discourses about
classrooms create the belief that learning can be taken outside of those
spaces of conflict. However, in so doing, the learning that ensues happens
within the boundaries of the artificiality that classrooms create and thereby
in isolation from the world for which the teaching practices are to prepare
Surely, we can do better than this.
Ania Lian, March, 2003
Freebody, P. Luke, A. and Gilbert, P. (1991). 'Reading positions and practices
in the classroom'. Curriculum Inquiry, vol. 21, no. 4: 435-457.
Giroux, H.A. (1992), ‘Resisting difference: Cultural studies and the discourse
of critical pedagogies’. in L. Grossberg, C. Nelson & P. Treichler (eds).
Cultural Studies: New York, Routledge: 199-212.