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Goddard Revisited: Cautionary Words From A Student Teacher To A Teacher Student Against The Dangers Of An Uncritical Pedagogy

1594 words - 6 pages

The following essay has been written with you in mind. It is the most cogent summary of my criticisms of Goddard to date but is far from complete. I have left out issues that seemed less relevant to your present lived experience. Other matters have been glossed over. My past few days have been spent immersed enough in pedagogical theory that the deficiencies I have been exposed to thus far stand out like I do on a football field. Due to the limitations of time, space and energy I have chosen to write in a directed, rambling manner over the course of a brief sitting. The structure of this piece will resemble the illegitimate hybrid of a formal paper and a personal letter.

The operative Goddardian myth of a student centered environment hides the ugly truth that suppression of shadow only leads to the demonization of its projection. As an outsider to the most prevalent dogmas within the IBA community who has been alienated for expressing dissent I am in a unique position to explore the ways in which attempts to escape the inherited structures within mainstream academia have led to a denial of the oppressive hegemonies by which the once radical has become sectarian. (freire 37)
The advisor must approach his role with humility. As Freire has said, "To affirm [commitment to the oppressed] but to consider oneself the proprietor of revolutionary wisdom -- which must be given to (or imposed) on people -- is to retain the old ways." (60-1) One cannot create authentic dialogue by imposing onto an other some value or perspective that does not arise out of his own experience. (180) Freirian rhetoric aside, caution is advised during the initial stages of packet submission and response.
If in the beginnings of interaction you provide interpretations rooted in a reference point that is alien to the student-teacher then you risk reinforcing the projection of the archetypal dynamics that are the basis for 'typical education'. By this I don't mean the caricatures against which so many members of our community define themselves. (I don't doubt that there are places where the caricature is closer to the norm. In my own experiences my K-12 teachers -- outside of specific settings that focused more on behavior than education*1* -- emphasized critical engagement with materials. Rarely outside of the more rudimentary studies that acted as the basis for future analytical activity did I find myself taught in a principally rote manner.) Rather, I mean an education in which the teacher is some sort of authority figure who in certain ways intends to instruct his student be it in a rote manner or by focusing on certain issues or insisting upon the study and application of certain methodologies to the exclusion of others.
In a traditional higher ed classroom this power-structure works because students have, by selecting certain courses and not others, chosen to engage within the parameters of set directions of inquiry. At Goddard the same dynamic can lead to...

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