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Neither language nor personal interests should be enough an obstacle to divide us therefore.


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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 itself.

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 learners.  

Surely, we can do better than this.

  Ania Lian, March, 2003


References:
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.





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