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CRITICAL PEDAGOGY AND FAITH
Jacob W. Neumann
Department of Curriculum and Instruction The University of Texas–Pan American
Abstract. Critical pedagogy has often been linked in the literature to faith traditions such as liberation theology, usually with the intent of improving or redirecting it. While recognizing and drawing from those previous linkages, Jacob Neumann goes further in this essay and develops the thesis that critical pedagogy can not just beneﬁt from a connection with faith traditions, but is actually, in and of itself, a practice of faith. In this analysis, he juxtaposes critical pedagogy against three conceptualizations of faith: John Caputo’s blurring of the modernist division between faith and reason, Paul Tillich’s argument that faith is ‘‘ultimate concern,’’ and Paulo Freire’s theology and early Christian inﬂuences. Using this three-pronged approach, Neumann argues that regardless of how it is seen, critical pedagogy manifests as a practice of faith ‘‘all the way down.’’
In 1996, Barry Kanpol called the educational left ‘‘to come to terms with the profound theological possibilities and implications of its work.’’1 In analyzing the relation between critical pedagogy and faith, I seek not only to address this call but to tackle what I see as a more fundamental issue: the essential nature of critical pedagogy as a practice of faith. While I draw from Kanpol’s work in linking critical pedagogy and liberation theology, I push further and ﬁnd that critical pedagogy, whether it is seen as a reﬂection of Christian beliefs or as a purely secular enterprise, is in fact, in all of its guises, a manifestation of faith. This understanding of the fundamental nature of critical pedagogy is important because it opens new contexts and new opportunities for critical work. Kanpol and Fred Yeo argue that a spiritually driven vision is missing from the literature of educational critique.2 I disagree. I ﬁnd that much, if not most, educational critique is spiritually driven — or at least driven by faith. But, and this is the essential point, it all depends on how we think about faith. It is my purpose in this essay to collide marginalized conceptualizations of faith with a new analysis of critical pedagogy, not in an effort to reinvest critical work with a spiritual vision, but in order to help reinvest critical work with meaning and efﬁcacy in our schools.
A Brief Outline
Critical pedagogy has a complex relation with faith and has been repeatedly linked to it in the literature.3 Such linkages ﬁt our commonsense understanding. It
1. Barry Kanpol, ‘‘Critical Pedagogy and Liberation Theology: Borders for a Transformative Agenda,’’ Educational Theory 46, no. 1 (1996): 105. 2. Barry Kanpol and Fred Yeo, ‘‘Foreword,’’ in The Academy and the Possibility of Belief, ed. Mary Buley-Meissner, Mary Thompson, and Elizabeth Tan (Cresskill, New Jersey: Hampton Press, 2000), xii. 3. See Phillip Berryman, Liberation Theology (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Temple University Press, 1987); Myles Horton and Paulo Freire, We Make the Road by Walking, ed. Brenda Bell, John Gavenda, EDUCATIONAL THEORY Volume 61 Number 5 © 2011 Board of Trustees University of Illinois 2011
takes faith to challenge the status quo. It takes faith to challenge school practices, especially as a teacher within the school. Critical pedagogy certainly places faith in dialogue.4 For Paulo Freire, faith in dialogue ‘‘requires an intense faith in humankind, faith in their power to make and remake, to create and re-create, faith in their vocation to be more fully human.’’5 And critical pedagogy holds faith in students, faith that they will take the critical path or will at least adopt some measure of criticality into their daily lives even after they have left the educator. Often, however, linkages between critical pedagogy and faith traditions seem to serve as measures to improve critical pedagogy: to reframe, rethink, or redirect it. For example, Joe Kincheloe draws upon ‘‘Buddhist insights’’ that involve ‘‘isolating and letting go of an egocentrism that blinds us to the virtual and relational nature of our selfhood’’ in order for critical pedagogy to avoid ‘‘those deﬁnitions of critical work that position it as an egocentric manifestation of the combative proponent of rationality.’’6 In another example, Amy Goodburn compares her faith in critical pedagogy with some of her students’ personal religious faith; for Goodburn, each is a belief system that provides structure for interpreting the world, offering both context and meaning. Where Goodburn initially saw disconnection between her critical aspirations and her students’ fundamentalist religious beliefs, reﬂection led her to ‘‘see more connections than differences between the discourses of fundamentalism and critical pedagogy.’’7 These connections led Goodburn to claim that ‘‘perhaps faith is what is needed most for a successful critical pedagogy — faith in the value of initiating dialogue in the face of conﬂicts over discourses and faith in students’ and teachers’ ability to value and negotiate each other’s differences.’’8 And in yet another reference to the value of linking critical pedagogy with faith traditions, Shari Stenberg claims that ‘‘the prophetic tradition of Liberation Theology offers us visions that may not only enrich our understanding of critical pedagogy, but may also help us to enact it more fully.’’9
and John Peters (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Temple University Press, 1990); Kanpol, ‘‘Critical Pedagogy and Liberation Theology’’; Amy Goodburn, ‘‘It’s a Question of Faith: Discourses of Fundamentalism and Critical Pedagogy in the Writing Classroom,’’ JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory 18, no. 2 (1998): 333–352; and Shari Stenberg, ‘‘Liberation Theology and Liberatory Pedagogies: Renewing the Dialogue,’’ College English 68, no. 1 (2006): 271–290. 4. Nicholas Burbules, ‘‘Dialogue and Critical Pedagogy,’’ in Critical Theory and Critical Pedagogy Today, ed. Ilan Gur-Ze’ev (Haifa, Israel: Studies in Education, University of Haifa, 2005), 193–207. 5. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, trans. Myra Ramos (New York: Continuum, 1993), 71. 6. Joe Kincheloe, Critical Pedagogy: A Primer (New York: Peter Lang, 2004), 134. 7. Goodburn, ‘‘It’s a Question of Faith,’’ 348. 8. Ibid., 352. 9. Stenberg, ‘‘Liberation Theology and Liberatory Pedagogies,’’ 288. JACOB W. NEUMANN is Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas–Pan American, 1201 W. University Dr., Edinburg, TX 78539; e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>. His primary areas of scholarship are critical pedagogy, social education, and educational foundations.
Neumann Critical Pedagogy and Faith 603 Like these other scholars. critical pedagogy is faith because it looks through a glass darkly. For example. but to an individual’s ultimate concern. My hope. but both rest on underlying. is to show that regardless of how it is viewed. This work will be cited in the text as PT for all subsequent references. ‘‘Critical Pedagogy and Liberation Theology’’. and Gustavo Gutierrez. critical pedagogy is not simply inﬂuenced by faith traditions. We Make the Road by Walking. its three elements. contrary to commonplace thinking. at least in part. Yet Tillich exploded this distinction by arguing that faith applies not to trust in things not seen. See Kanpol. First. it is faith all the way down. The Politics of Education. I look at it from the standpoint of religious faith. I also develop connections in this essay between critical pedagogy and faith traditions. A Theory of Liberation: History. and Salvation (Maryknoll. In arguing this point. I look at critical faith from the standpoint of the alleged split between reason and belief. Donaldo Macedo (South Hadley. then. I approach critical faith from the standpoint of ultimate concern. are actually not that far apart: reason is not being able to see all the way down and belief is to see only through a glass darkly. Berryman. in taking this three-pronged approach. drawing primarily from John Caputo’s argument that reason and belief. This work will be cited in the text as DF for all subsequent references. so that reason and belief are actually two different kinds of faith. because 10. or even as the religious belief in a Creator. Tennessee: Abingdon Press. 12.11 but is in and of itself a practice of faith. Liberation Theology. But I go further and work to develop a thesis usually missed in the literature: that critical pedagogy does not just have religious roots10 and strong connections to liberation theology. 11. Massachusetts: Bergin and Garvey. and Horton and Freire. Politics. taken-for-granted assumptions. 1985). Philosophy and Theology (Nashville. Here I lean on Paul Tillich’s argument that overturns commonplace understandings of faith as the belief in the unseen or the unseeable. it is not merely one element and not the others. 1988).12 Second. See Paulo Freire. I should note at the outset that I recognize that the three analytical positions I take will at times contradict each other. Caputo seems to imply that faith is. critical pedagogy is always an embodiment of faith. Rather. speciﬁcally drawing from Paulo Freire’s early religious inﬂuences and from connections to liberation theology. it is these three elements that comprise critical faith. the belief in what is not seen. 1957). Freire’s The Politics of Education will be cited in the text as PE for all subsequent references. and replaces them with an understanding of faith as the quality of having an ultimate concern. something about which one is concerned ultimately. in turn.13 Third. . Paul Tillich. 2006). Dynamics of Faith (New York: Perennial Classics. I work here to advance the point that to do critical pedagogy is to practice critical faith — in other words. Critical faith is not sometimes religious or sometimes ultimate concern. a practice of faith. New York: Orbis Books. arguing. I approach the faith of critical pedagogy from three directions. trans. In other words. John Caputo. And neither scholar focuses explicitly on faith as a purely religious affair. 13.
(PT. 55) Besides these nuanced ‘‘for-structures’’ that apply to everyday life. . Louis Menand (New York: Vintage Books. The Moral and Spiritual Crisis in Education (New York: Bergin and Garvey. Through a Glass Darkly Critical pedagogy is often a cognitive. what Heidegger called an ensemble of ‘‘interpretive for-structures. The perceptual world is to an important extent a coherent set of expectations. our expectations are conﬁrmed — or not. greet it with a friendly hello. Even the most elemental perception is structured around a moment of expectation that is conﬁrmed — or not. For Caputo. To introduce this discussion. 87. when I discuss Tillich. action. and because it draws from the religious warrants of emancipation and transformation. about desires and motivations. Or. critical pedagogy relies on both the micro ‘‘structures of anticipation. When we open the door. as William James observed. 15.’’ and larger macro assumptions related speciﬁcally to critical pedagogy’s purpose (PT. But this activity rests on a foundation of belief — beliefs about causes and effects. cases where a fact cannot come at all unless a preliminary faith exists in its coming. William James. 14.’’ Knowing rests on ‘‘an ongoing faith and trust in an ensemble of assumptions and presuppositions . dialogue. 16. 59. . both faith and reason turn on a ‘‘seeing as. that people want to challenge existing structural power dynamics. we expect to feel its weight.’’15 This analysis of the faith16 underpinning reason blurs the modernist division between faith and reason. and the like. we expect it to hold us up. In other words. critical pedagogy is a rational activity that trusts in a variety of anticipatory assumptions that ground its material potential. ed. 1989). ways of ‘‘taking’’ things ‘‘as’’ such-and-such. that people want to learn and to use its language and analytical structures.’’ without which ‘‘we would have to reinvent the wheel several times a day. ‘‘The Will to Believe. eat or drink it. that enable us to make our way around — a lab or an archive. then.604 EDUCATIONAL THEORY Volume 61 Number 5 2011 it holds an ultimate concern. when we lift the telephone book.’’14 Thus. even about notions of right and wrong. but whatever we receive is received in a manner that is suitable for the receiver who must make ready for the reception. . lift it. Later in the essay. where if we move it. David Purpel. rational activity: inquiry. use it.’’ in Pragmatism: A Reader. These assumptions are ‘‘the foundation and underpinning of reason. ‘‘there are. critical pedagogy is an act of faith simply because of these underlying assumptions.’’ by means of which we make our way around the world via felicitous assumptions. For this analysis I draw heavily from Caputo’s concise discussion of the weakening modernist distinction between faith and reason. that which provides it roots and substance. analysis. critical pedagogy holds its own range of assumptions: that society can be changed through critical action. we expect to ﬁnd a house inside. Here I mean faith as trust in something neither seen nor empirically proven. discourse. True. when we sink into a chair. 55). 1997). I will contradict this position by problematizing the correlation of faith and trust. we are constantly receiving input from the world. Thus. not a wind-swept prairie. from one perspective. I quote a section from Caputo at length: To understand is not a kind of pure staring at an object. and education.
the anticipation of discovery. sites for social critique. The Tacit Dimension (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. and not-quite-seeing. The Tacit Dimension. 1981). Straus and Giroux. that even escapes clear recognition — informs Polanyi’s well-known phrase.’’22 Tacit knowledge — that knowing that cannot quite be articulated. But to a critical pedagogue.. people might not be interested in critical social change.’’ and to proceed with some conﬁdence in our perspective. assumptions such as these often form the bedrock of one’s entire praxis. . to have faith in something is not darkness and not-seeing all the way down. 4. 59. To believe is to take something ‘‘as. But by the same token. and to reason is to reason ‘‘from a faith. quoted in Purpel. 23.. 25. a vocabulary that we believe and trust. The Moral and Spiritual Crisis in Education. 20. 2001). On the contrary.’’ an angle. on the one hand. but in the nature and quality of the ‘faithing’ process.’’19 For David Purpel. however. one will not be able to see at all without a certain faith. like discovery itself. a perspective. an economic system or a foreign culture’’ (PT. on the other. emphasis in original) Michael Polanyi calls this ‘‘tacit knowledge’’ and claims that ‘‘to hold such knowledge is an act deeply committed to the conviction that there is something there to be discovered [even if] . 56). Michael Polanyi. for his part. may turn out to be a delusion. 57). faith resembles trust. . Instead. or even appropriate. The Moral and Spiritual Crisis in Education. in order that we may see and understand. Stages of Faith (San Francisco: Harper and Row. lies in ‘‘the intimation of something hidden.Neumann Critical Pedagogy and Faith 605 a poem or an ancient language. 1966). 19. there is always the possibility that some other set of truths might be the case. past larger belief/knowledge systems and toward the micro-structures that support macro knowledge/belief. as Polanyi might put it. Caputo. Regarding the alleged divide between reason and faith. Ibid. Caputo and Polanyi. ‘‘we know more than we can tell. 57. Ibid. 21. ‘‘the distinction between philosophy and theology is between two kinds of interpretive slants. an ‘‘as. 18. James Fowler calls this ‘‘faithing’’ and argues that ‘‘people differ not so much on the basis of having faith or not having faith. 22. dialogue might not be most effective in fostering such change.’’21 This ‘‘tacit thought forms an indispensable part of all knowledge. Purpel. 23. 59. does not distinguish between reason and faith as seeing. 20. [something] which we may yet discover.’’18 In terms of critical pedagogy. Louis Menand. (PT. Polanyi.’’23 17. . James Fowler. 440. push further. and schools might not actually be productive. if we do not have a take.’’17 This trusted knowledge might be considered to be a form of faith because even ‘‘though we may believe unreservedly in a certain set of truths. 33. So believing is starting to look a lot like seeing.’’20 This trust. The Metaphysical Club (New York: Farrar. two kinds of interpretations that are inwardly structured by the sort of faith at work in each’’ (PT.
in contrast to other living beings. 57). like every living being. such as food and shelter. because we cannot clearly reason all the way down without these ‘‘structures of anticipation. calling both faith and reason ‘‘looking through a glass darkly. and each of them as well as the vital concerns can claim ultimacy for a human life or the life of a social group. For Tillich. such as trust that God exists or belief in the truth of God. he claimed that ‘‘without such trust we could not believe anything except the objects of our immediate experience’’ (DF. is concerned about many things. faith involves concern.’’ Tillich told us. Some of them are urgent. social. If it claims ultimacy it demands the total surrender of him who accepts this claim.606 EDUCATIONAL THEORY Volume 61 Number 5 2011 Because we cannot necessarily recognize these assumptions. 36. political. 38) Critical pedagogy. The knowledge of our world (including ourselves as a part of the world) is a matter of inquiry by ourselves or by those in whom we trust. whether we know it by direct experience or through the experience of others. ‘‘If this is meant. Tillich did not discriminate against belief. faith and reason are not two different ways of knowing: while Caputo blurs the modernist division between faith and reason. But man. more than just trust: ‘‘For faith is more than trust in even the most sacred authority. then. For this part of the discussion. aesthetic. It is participation in the subject of one’s ultimate concern with one’s whole being’’ (DF. 1) From this perspective. critical pedagogy ‘‘refers to the means and methods that test and hope to change .’’ seeing begins to look like believing and believing begins to look like seeing (PT. To act. Reason involves knowing. I draw extensively from Paul Tillich’s book Dynamics of Faith.’’ Ultimate Concern The second standpoint from which to view critical pedagogy as faith is from the standpoint of ultimate concern. Tillich made the case that faith is more than just belief. properly understood. 37). In distinguishing faith from belief. According to Kanpol.’’ Tillich insisted that the two belong to separate realms. ‘‘one is speaking of belief rather than faith’’ (DF. emphasis in original). ‘‘Seeing as’’ gives faith a larger role to play in what was hitherto called reason and sends negotiators on both sides of this classical debate back to the drawing board. then. Tillich held that ‘‘the most ordinary misinterpretation of faith is to consider it an act of knowledge that has a low degree of evidence’’ (DF. holds no quarrel with reason: Faith does not afﬁrm or deny what belongs to the prescientiﬁc or scientiﬁc knowledge of our world. Instead. For Tillich. As Caputo puts it. (DF. 56) Because both reason and faith ‘‘see as. above all about those which condition its existence. of course. faith. (DF. carries an ultimate concern. (PT. 36). ‘‘seeing as’’ weakens the idea of ‘‘pure seeing’’ defended in the camp of reason and strengthens the idea of ‘‘seeing in part’’ defended in the camp of faith. It is not a matter of faith. faith is not trust in the truth or existence of something not seen.’’ reason and faith begin to resemble each other. has spiritual concerns — cognitive. often extremely urgent. from a critical perspective based on critical reasoning is a form of practicing or manifesting faith because it is to act while ‘‘looking through a glass darkly. 37): Man. Indeed. and it promises total fulﬁllment even if all other claims have to be subjected to it or rejected in its name.
30 But even if critical pedagogy is not narrowly deﬁned. Jeffrey Duncan-Andrade and Ernest Morrell. 12). Critical Pedagogy: Notes from the Real World (Boston: Pearson. ed. Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction. Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction (Westport. The Critical Pedagogy Reader (New York: Routledge Falmer. ‘‘Critical Pedagogy and Its Complicities: A Praxis of Stuck Places.’’ Educational Theory 48. the content of an ultimate concern. Barry Kanpol. Kanpol. be sacriﬁced’’ (DF.’’25 Its literature carries the rhetoric of ‘‘emancipatory’’ education. Tillich offered numerous examples of ultimate concern that are directed toward a variety of different content. health and life.’’ Educational Theory 48. Darder. While ‘‘there is not faith without a content toward which it is directed. is the state of being ultimately and unconditionally concerned about Jahweh and about what he represents in demand. 25. what he called ‘‘more than an example. and Peter McLaren. family. 29. 2003). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. because.’’ in The Critical Pedagogy Reader. And in what he called ‘‘almost a counter-example. 28. Marta Baltodano. and Ilan Gur-Ze’ev.’’ Tillich discussed the ultimate concern with ‘‘success’’ and with social standing and economic power.26 But by no means does critical pedagogy have a single ultimate concern. Baltodano. for the men of the Old Testament. even if those principles and purposes might sometimes be expressed differently by different criticalists. as Joan Wink reminds us. . ‘‘if a national group makes the life and growth of the nation its ultimate concern. 2008). 1. eds. Connecticut: Bergin and Garvey. but because of its overriding principles and purposes. 185. ‘‘Critical Pedagogy: A Look at the Major Concepts. ‘‘liberatory’’ education. In another example. Critical pedagogy is faith simply because of the presence of an ultimate concern.’’24 It is a praxis ‘‘that sees education as a tool for eliminating oppressive relationships and conditions. and Torres. Joan Wink. threat and promise’’ (DF. 2). critical pedagogy ‘‘is not easily deﬁned and understood in a neat little package.. 3). ‘‘critical pedagogy is as diverse as its many adherents. Patti Lather. 1999). 26.’’29 Patti Lather and Ilan Gur-Ze’ev even refer to critical pedagogies instead of a singular critical pedagogy.’’ the nature of that content does not determine whether or not faith exists (DF. and Rodolfo Torres. no. does not affect its deﬁnition as faith. 27. Freire. ‘‘its areas of concern can involve anything to do with schooling and the wider culture. McLaren. Antonia Darder. 4 (1998): 487–497.’’28 And for Kanpol. though important to an individual or group. it demands that all other concerns. For Tillich. 27. 4 (1998): 463–486. ‘‘Toward a Nonrepressive Critical Pedagogy. 14. The Art of Critical Pedagogy: Possibilities for Moving from Theory to Practice in Urban Schools (New York: Peter Lang. no.’’27 For Peter McLaren. For instance. economic well-being.’’ Tillich wrote that ‘‘faith. From this perspective. it nonetheless holds ultimate concern. critical pedagogy is faith not because of the blurring between faith and reason or because of critical pedagogy’s heritage in the Catholic Church. 30. ‘‘Critical Pedagogy: A Look at the Major Concepts. justice and humanity.’’ 69. It is the god of many people in the highly competitive Western culture and it does what every ultimate 24. 2005).Neumann Critical Pedagogy and Faith 607 the structures of schools that allow inequalities and social injustices. aesthetic and cognitive truth. and ‘‘revolutionary’’ education.
The awareness of the holy is awareness of the presence of the divine. he claimed that people cannot be wholly without faith. indeed. ‘‘the holy is ﬁrst of all experienced as present’’ (DF. . transitory. in which things are equal and substitutable. Tillich argued that even though the content of faith does not matter for its deﬁnition. its content is indicative of the type of faith: ontological or moral. even though it has no concrete content’’ (DF. Tillich considered faith to be ‘‘an act of the total personality. Tillich seemed to say. . 4). 80). but which [we do] not own like a possession’’ (DF. In ontological faith. holiness is experienced as a feeling of what ‘‘ought to be. for ‘‘that which is really ultimate over against what claims to be ultimate but is only preliminary. Rather. 123) Because we are human. . (DF. And because we must have an ultimate concern. the holiness of being or the holiness of what ought to be. personal conviction.’’ But let us not draw too wide a distinction between these types of faith. because ‘‘the despair about truth by the skeptic shows that truth is still his inﬁnite passion. is not reserved for religious symbols or teaching. is relativism. but certainly in terms of meaning. not necessarily in terms of purpose. ﬁnite’’ (DF. The skeptic. As such. he went on to argue. because we cannot fully embrace relativism. as he seemed to speak to a larger spiritual inertia. Holiness. it would seem that Tillich established a continuum of personality: from faith-ful to faith-less. Such a state. because a human being deprived completely of a center would cease to be a human being. 66). We are driven toward our ultimate concern by. The holy is the longing for a higher power. Even a skeptic or an atheist can have faith. ‘‘The feeling of being consumed in the presence of the divine is a profound expression of man’s relation to the holy’’ (DF. however. so long as he is a serious skeptic. namely of the content of our ultimate concern’’ (DF. or transitory concerns. can only be approached but never fully reached. then. ‘‘the passion for the inﬁnite’’ (DF. but is driven ‘‘by [an] awareness of the inﬁnite to which [we] belong. 11). (DF. an ultimate concern need not be considered religious to be ultimate. and creative eros. which Tillich called ‘‘an attitude in which nothing ultimate is asked for’’ (DF. or for a sort of moral perfection. 22). Thus. we must have an ultimate concern. for ‘‘there are always elements of the one type within the other’’ (DF. Being without it is being without a center. It happens in the center of the personal life and includes all its elements. it must simply be something that concerns one ultimately. 14). They are all united in the act of faith’’ (DF. is not without faith. we must have faith. If relativism is the opposite of faith. 11). . ultimate concern is the integrating center of the personal life. It is religious in the sense of longing for union with the inﬁnite. it reaches to the core of our being. 15). This passion is not religious in an institutional sense. In moral faith. in this paradigm. ‘‘what concerns one ultimately becomes holy. temporal. The opposite of faith. as Tillich put it. 4) One’s ultimate concern transcends ﬂeeting.608 EDUCATIONAL THEORY Volume 61 Number 5 2011 concern must do: it demands unconditional surrender to its laws even if the price is the sacriﬁce of genuine human relations. Yet he made no such argument. For this reason one cannot admit that there is any man without an ultimate concern or without faith. 65). 10). Tillich’s relativism intensiﬁes commonplace notions of relativism.
Critical pedagogy struggles with life as it is. It is this humanist faith of the moral type which was taken over by the revolutionary movement of the proletarian masses in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. critical pedagogy can also be seen as reﬂecting or manifesting as religious faith in action.’ as elaborated by the Jewish prophets’’ (DF.’’32 Yet. Ibid. especially since the eighteenth century. ﬁrst in the West. . even its modern humanist iterations. This faith is secular in that it does not try to transcend the limits of humanity. not going beside it or beyond it into a sanctuary’’ (DF. here we can connect it to what Tillich called an ethical moral faith. Critical Pedagogy. Stenberg claims that ‘‘those of us who espouse critical pedagogy 31. that they live outside the doors of the temple. and consequently that they are without faith! But if one asks them whether they are without an ultimate concern. 73) Critical pedagogy embodies an ontological secular humanist faith in its concern for people’s actual lived experiences. And in denying that they are without an ultimate concern. It was faith and not rational calculation. critical pedagogy. ‘‘belonging to the ordinary process of events. 78).’’ and it demands justice.’’31 Even the sometimes heavily theoretical emphasis of critical pedagogy bridges theory to that which is manifest.Neumann Critical Pedagogy and Faith 609 Critical pedagogy embodies both types of faith. and possibly enact. rests on a Christian foundation and includes the dominant emphasis on the ‘ought to be. 12. Religious Faith From a third.’’ As Tillich put it. 72). ‘‘critical pedagogy should never. has roots in ‘‘Old Testament Judaism. 79) Tillich’s history situates this angle of faith within a broad landscape. one that helps create a fuller context from which to analyze. Tillich described a humanist variant of ontological faith: ‘‘For humanism the divine is manifest in the human. 77). (DF. This faith. although they believed in the superior power of reason united with justice and truth. ‘‘modern humanism. in that critical pedagogy ‘‘must always be connecting to the reality of human suffering and the effort to eradicate it. The dynamics of their humanist faith changed the face of the world. then also in the East. thus. For this faith. Tillich explained secular humanist faith: Often people say that they are secular. Tillich went so far as to link revolutionary proletarian movements to this moral faith: Their faith was humanist faith. and quite different. they would strongly deny this. (DF. expressing itself in secular more than in religious terms. Kincheloe. they afﬁrm that they are in a state of faith. critical pedagogy also emphasizes what ought to be. with manifest realities. without something which they take as unconditionally serious. 72). This faith emphasizes ‘‘the law of justice and righteousness. the ultimate concern of man is man’’ (DF. perspective. 32. ‘‘the experience of the holiness of being has never overwhelmed the experience of the holiness of ‘ought to be’’’ (DF. Perhaps the strongest and most well-known connection of critical pedagogy with religious faith comes from Paulo Freire. never lose sight of its central concern with human suffering. As Kincheloe writes.
often unknowingly. Peter Jarvis. A Theology of Liberation. his personality. 2 (emphasis in original). utopian theology. 39. 138). 34. ‘‘Freire not only uses theological language.37 Indeed. ‘‘A Radical Conversion of Mind: Fundamentalism. namely the inﬂuence of Christianity. but also acknowledges the inﬂuence on his thinking of the Roman Catholic Church of his Latin American background.’’36 Yet. 5 (2001): 585–611. Like critical pedagogy.’’ College English 63. Freire’s religious inﬂuences are often overlooked or ignored by criticalists. 1997). 36. . according to Priscilla Perkins. xxi. Priscilla Perkins.’’39 Freire’s Christianity has roots in liberation theology. Hermeneutics. Unlike the traditional church and the modernizing church. 194. no. 1 (1995): 68–78. Cooper. ‘‘Many have noted the strong link between Freire’s theology. ‘‘Freire and Theology.’’ in Mentoring the Mentor: A Critical Dialogue with Paulo Freire. 41.’’ 206. 2 (1987): 31.’’ 271. ‘‘the prophetic church demands a critical analysis of the social structures in which the conﬂict takes place’’ (PE. and his political practice. Kanpol. ‘‘many on the educational left are uncomfortable talking about any form of spirituality. 37. ‘‘the theology of so-called development gives way to the theology of liberation — a prophetic. James Fraser.’’ Studies in the Education of Adults 27. 139). which. 38. alienate the oppressed social classes by either ‘‘encouraging them to view the world as evil’’ or by ‘‘defending the reforms that maintain the status quo.’’38 For Cooper. ‘‘Liberation Theology and Liberatory Pedagogies. Within this prophetic church. Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction.’’ the prophetic church ‘‘rejects do-goodism and palliative reforms in order to commit itself to the dominated social classes and to radical social change’’ (PE.’’35 and according to Gillian Cooper. conversely. and from his earliest writings overt religious allusions and analogies can be found. ed. especially regarding schools. Thus. no. ‘‘locates Freire within the prophetic tradition of the Christian church. Freire ‘‘roots the religious struggle for faith and the political struggle for liberation in the same moment and the same set of events — the historical reality of conscientization for political involvement. Stenberg. Gillian Cooper. full of hope’’ (PE. Paulo Freire (New York: Peter Lang. ‘‘Freire and Theology.’’33 And as Nicholas Burbules writes. 136 and 137).’’34 Peter Jarvis. Burbules. according to Freire. with deep ties to religious faith.’’ 40. for example. this results in a misuse of Freire’s philosophy: ‘‘those Marxist or socialist educators who adopt Freire’s philosophy miss one important element of it. Gutierrez. arising from what he called the prophetic church. no. ‘‘Dialogue and Critical Pedagogy.’’ Convergence 20.’’41 It is ‘‘an attempt to help the 33. and the Metanoic Classroom.’’40 Liberation theology is an expression of a ‘‘resolute process that is changing the condition of the poor and oppressed of this world. ‘‘Paulo Freire: Educationalist of a Revolutionary Christian Movement. Christian educators downplay his Marxism and simplify his Christianity. 35. ‘‘Love and History in the Work of Paulo Freire.610 EDUCATIONAL THEORY Volume 61 Number 5 2011 and embrace Paulo Freire’s visions of praxis and conscientization work out of a tradition.
to teach them and to learn from them. 38. and I protested strongly against the way my grandmother had treated a black woman at home — not with physical violence.47 He explained further. Ibid. 43.’’46 Some of Freire’s writings make explicit connections to Christianity and Christian faith. a revolutionary.’’43 In the 1970s and 1980s. Ibid. Freire claimed little distinction between his Christian faith and his revolutionary ambitions: Being a Christian. being pushed by faith to advocate for the poor.. Ibid. 5. Berryman.’’ This beginning.’ and stating that education should be ‘democratized. they came to see it as ﬁtting very neatly into the emerging sense of how the church should opt for the poor.’’44 As these elements in the Church renewed and revitalized their advocacy for the poor. one day I was talking with my father and my mother. bishops began ‘‘calling for a ‘liberating education. 47. I said to my mother and to my father that I couldn’t understand that. I am a Christian trying to become 42. 4. 48. 46. We Make the Road by Walking. Freire described an early experience that illustrates the roots connecting his faith and his activism: I remember that when I was 6 years old. it is a critique of economic and social structures and ideologies that justify inequality. nuns. liberation theology ‘‘sought to carry out the Church’s mission by showing the lot of the poor and engaging them in a process of evangelization that would develop a critical consciousness. citing his Christian background as an early powerful inﬂuence on his thinking. 45. Liberation Theology.. It assumes a totality of humility of telling me that I am a man trying to become a Christian. 37.Neumann Critical Pedagogy and Faith 611 poor interpret their own faith in a new way’’. I have to confess that I did that pushed by my Christian faith. 245.’’’45 Thus. these are very close. Ibid. regarding his later activism. not maybe with formal speech I am using now. and lay activists interested in advocating for the poor and in directly challenging structural inequalities drew a model for engaging with the poor from Freire’s concept of conscientazacao: ‘‘As church people became ¸˜ ´ aware of the method and spirit of concientizacion (in the Spanish). . but with undoubtedly racial prejudice. Horton and Freire. 243.’’48 In fact. that ‘‘when I went ﬁrst to meet with workers and peasants in Recife’s slums. 44. liberation theology has been called ‘‘an interpretation of Christian faith out of the experience of the poor. might be considered a form of mission.42 Growing from the efforts of Latin American clergy to effect social change on behalf of the poor and dispossessed. at the same time.’ Education should not mean incorporating people into existing cultural structures but ‘giving them the means so that they can be the agents of their own progress.. but I was underlining for me the impossibility of being a Christian and at the same time discriminating against another person for any reason. reﬂected in Freire’s statement that ‘‘I have to say that I went ﬁrst as if I had been sent.. Ibid. Latin American Catholic priests.
it is important to remember these early Christian. brings into the world this new being: no longer oppressor nor longer oppressed. Paulo Freire. 50. he maintained a role for spirituality. Freire wrote as a man of faith inﬂuenced by early Christian experiences. ‘‘feeling a certain discomfort in doing so. 43.’’54 Freire could hold simultaneous conversations with both Christ and Marx. They understand religious as religion-like.’’57 He noted further that ‘‘Conversion to the people requires a profound rebirth. and Awakening: Hesse. ‘‘always [speaking] to them both in a very loving way. Ibid. but rather ‘‘interpreted the Gospels as a call to social action. Peter Roberts. For Freire.50 even.’’55 Freire’s optimism about human nature. 4 (1983): 37 (emphasis in original). institutional religion. Freire’s faith ‘‘is informed by the memory of the oppressed’’ and by ‘‘suffering that must not be allowed to continue. 56. 31. As Henry Giroux writes. and his faith in its worth. Horton and Freire. preMarxist inﬂuences. 52.56 While the Marxist inﬂuence in Freire’s philosophy receives considerable attention. 58. his seems to be a religion of the street and of the slum. Freire’s use of the language of Easter and of Exodus is telling: when we look behind the Marxist inﬂuence. ‘‘‘You Have the Third World Inside You’: Conversation by Paulo Freire. Margaret Costigan. . 49. 246. Ibid. 246. then. . Cooper. Freire and the Process of Transformation. 113. Freire and Theology. no. I would say that I am a man of faith.49 Yet. are not only Marxist but also Christian. Ibid. Death. .’’51 Thus. ‘‘Education. in other writings. but did not necessarily emphasize those early Christian inﬂuences.’’58 This process of transformation is ‘‘based not on miraculous revelation or shallow ‘quick ﬁx’ solutions but on a complex.’’53 Indeed. I’m not a religious man.’’52 He claimed that ‘‘if you ask me. 1 (2009): 7. Pedagogy of Indignation (Boulder. they can no longer remain as they were.’’ International Journal of Lifelong Education 28. difﬁcult and often lengthy process of critical reﬂection. 51. 1988). which] . 53. I say no. with a prophetic investment in the historical material reality of the poor and oppressed. but not interested in a static. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Teachers as Intellectuals: Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Learning (New York: Bergin and Garvey.. Freire. no. as Peter Roberts claims.612 EDUCATIONAL THEORY Volume 61 Number 5 2011 a revolutionary. We Make the Road by Walking. we ﬁnd these religious ideas of rebirth and of leading out informing critical notions of transformation and emancipation. 54. Colorado: Paradigm Publishers. 55. 2004). but human in the process of achieving freedom. Freire did not advocate a proselytizing faith. ‘‘liberation is thus a childbirth. 57. and a painful one[. I am a Christian revolutionary or a revolutionary Christian because I know what I want to become. Those who undergo it must take on a new form of existence. Instead. if I am a religious man. Henry Giroux..’’ Convergence 16.
or action. 67. The old Easter of rhetoric is dead — with no hope of resurrection. Massachusetts: Bergin and Garvey. ‘‘revolutionary leaders cannot think without the people.’’64 But in reading the word-world. for Freire. Giroux. 64. he was.65 As Jarvis writes. the idea of development is grounded in a theological understanding of the world and of humankind. Teachers as Intellectuals. 69 (emphasis in original). Ibid. Hence. Literacy: Reading the Word and the World (South Hadley. (PE. Freire.’’67 Freire positioned critical ethics. The destiny of the person is to be involved with the Divine in the creation of a new world. nor for the people. Death. what he called a ‘‘universal human ethic. Because as he stressed again and again. one ‘‘linked to forms of self and social empowerment that embrace the struggle to develop active forms of community life around the principles of equality and democracy. We change the world through the conscious. [which] must be existentially experienced. 123) This Easter signiﬁes a transformation that ‘‘means a deep change in the consciousness of teachers.Neumann Critical Pedagogy and Faith 613 dialogue and social action. 1987). Ibid.’’62 Thus. It is only in the authenticity of historical praxis that Easter becomes the death that makes life possible. biophiliac (life-loving) process of educational resurrection. a shift that goes beyond mere commemorative rhetoric to a genuinely transformative.’’ 37 (emphasis in original). and Awakening. 62. ‘‘‘You Have the Third World Inside You’.. that does not allow the individual humanity should be avoided. ‘‘reappears to the namers as a problem and requires of them a new naming. 65. which.’’ 66.’’ as a critical genesis: ‘‘I speak of a universal human ethic in the same way I speak of 59. of course.66 Giroux has called this a language of possibility. 63.’’61 Yet when Freire claimed that the prophetic church invites the oppressed ‘‘to a new Exodus’’ (PE. we are presented with the problem of renaming the world with new words. practical work of writing and rewriting the word-world.’’63 Language. 61. 139). here. ‘‘A Response. Freire held. not suggesting that criticalists — or even the church — can or should act like a modern-day Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt. thus building new worlds. ‘‘Paulo Freire: Educationalist of a Revolutionary Christian Movement.’’ in Mentoring the Mentor. because in reading the word. ‘‘you have more and more to die as an elitist mind in order to be born as a popular mind. it is historical involvement. Paulo Freire. 112.’’60 In this Easter. Paulo Freire and Donaldo Macedo. but only with the people. It is praxis. ‘‘we read the world in which these words exist. once named. It is the Easter that results in the changing of consciousness.’’ 36. we also read the world. The real Easter is not commemorative rhetoric. Freire. a dialectical worlding in which the world is named in the word. becomes a world-builder. . 135. ‘‘Education. 66. Costigan.’’59 This is not simply the Easter of sacraments and liturgy. Roberts. the faith in Freire’s writings is a dialectical faith. 60. ed. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In reading the word. Any theory. 304. Jarvis.
and its inherently unstable nature. in a previous issue of Educational Theory devoted to the topic of critical pedagogy. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The preceding discussion is not intended to suggest clear. Rather. It is Easter and Exodus manifested as transformation and emancipation. It is faith from and in the ontological vocation of human development. 70. In the language of the faith orientation I present here. and Freire as positioned at three points of a triangle of critical faith. independent divisions between these three elements of faith. the theology of critical ethics emphasizes ontology and development. these elements overlap and intersect. but each having its own gravity well. Ibid. 25. though religiously inﬂuenced. Tillich.614 EDUCATIONAL THEORY Volume 61 Number 5 2011 humanity’s ontological vocation. for. 66.’’68 To be world-builders is ﬁrst to recognize and then to act from that recognition as historically conditioned subjects: ‘‘Insofar as I am a conscious presence in the world. instead. 71. although I believe these connections exist. perhaps even contributing to the tension found in the literature among its various positions and instantiations. each informing and inﬂuencing the others. Because the condition of becoming is the condition of being. which calls us out of and beyond ourselves. its religious drive. each of us is not only responsible for our actions. 1998). Ibid. seeks no liturgical validation or mandate. But notice how Freire evinced little or no interest in exactly quantifying what that Divine is. . Tillich in Caputo or Freire in Tillich. that would lead us into a reductionism he abhorred. I cannot hope to escape my responsibility for my action in the world. but is called by our presence in the world to partner with the Divine to continually recreate the world. and Civic Courage.’’69 In this theological position. Because to be disconnected from it or to regard it as irrelevant constitutes for us women and men a transgression.. trans. Freire. In addition. I propose a thinking within Jacques Derrida’s ‘ordeal of the 68. Democracy. Instead.70 A transgression from what? From humanization. say. Patti Lather writes. 39. again. these elements of faith interconnect in how they inform our positions on critical pedagogy — in our deciding what critical pedagogy means. I believe these three faith elements inform all of critical pedagogy. this tension seems to exist among its ultimate concern. ‘‘To counter Peter McLaren and Ilan Gur-Ze’ev’s insistence on the ‘right story’ of critical pedagogy. ‘‘people’s historical vocation.. critical pedagogy has long been in tension with itself.’’71 Faith in Freirean praxis. Maryland: Rowman and Littleﬁeld. Paulo Freire. I see Caputo. 26. To take one example. the ﬂux between being and becoming: It is in our becoming that we constitute our being so. it is not possible to imagine the human condition disconnected from the ethical condition. Interconnectedness of Faith The interconnectedness of critical faith lies not in ﬁnding elements of. As readers of this journal certainly know. 69. Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics. Patrick Clarke (Lanham.
Let me momentarily engage in a bit of mind reading (albeit with admittedly suspect clarity) and examine a few selections from that 1998 issue of Educational Theory in which the authors present substantively different takes on critical pedagogy. This interconnectedness makes critical pedagogy a risky business. as listening. . as transformation. for example.’’ in my reading. to greater and lesser degrees. nonetheless emphasizes the religious desire for autonomy and worlding. such that perhaps any one rendering of critical pedagogy reﬂects the tug of one’s own critical faith.’’ However. while McLaren and Gur-Ze’ev seem to draw more from Freire. because. . reminding us of our always tenuous stance and the faith 72. For more on Caputo’s extensive scholarship on Derridean deconstruction. each draws more strongly from one than the others. See Lather. within the three gravity wells of faith. Deconstruction.’’ 486.’’ viewing the tension within critical pedagogy as a ‘‘boy versus girl thing. Yet. Lather speaks to exactly the kind of ‘‘undecideability’’ that Caputo references.’’ 488–489. . passage. ‘‘Critical Pedagogy and Its Complicities. For while we might feel the surety and righteousness of our ultimate concerns. my intent here is instead to show how these positions might fall. Radical Hermeneutics: Repetition. Although I believe an engaging debate might be had to deconstruct the faith of various critical positions.’’ While Lather seeks to ‘‘discipline’’ the ‘‘masculinist voice of abstraction and universalism [in critical pedagogy] . Peter McLaren. as ethics. because Lather too seeks a manner of reworlding and McLaren and Gur-Ze’ev also acknowledge contingency. this (arguable) distinction is not absolute. speak more to a material reworlding. even if the speciﬁc content of those concerns varies.’’ I see this more in terms of a tension of faith. even as he also pulls from Caputo in intending to ‘‘demystify and negate any self-evident ‘knowledge. it seems to me. see John Caputo. arguably. In this issue. ‘‘Toward a Nonrepressive Critical Pedagogy. no. Caputo destabilizes our footing. but.72 It is hard to say just what critical pedagogy is: more materialist? more political? more feminist? more spiritual? more student-centered? In this essay I have also situated it all over the map: as solidarity.’’ Educational Theory 48. 4 (1998): 431–462. ‘‘Revolutionary Pedagogy in Post-Revolutionary Times. on the other hand. 74. ‘‘Toward a Nonrepressive Critical Pedagogy. from a faith orientation.Neumann Critical Pedagogy and Faith 615 undecideable’ and its obligation to openness. I recognize here that Gur-Ze’ev critiques Freire as ‘‘na¨ve. then.’’ 73. arises in articulating an essence of critical pedagogy. none of these positions solely inhabits only one of the three faith elements. The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida: Religion without Religion (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. The tension.’’’ See Gur-Ze’ev. and Gur-Ze’ev. we are pulled in various directions by our own particular faith. In other words. 1987).74 And each is certainly guided by a sense of ultimate concern. and John Caputo. while still containing inﬂuences from the others.73 while McLaren and Gur-Ze’ev. In borrowing language from Derrida. 1997). Lather. In other words. ı Gur-Ze’ev’s argument for ‘‘counter education. and non-mastery. with some feminist pedagogy. and the Hermeneutic Project (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. I ﬁnd that instances and variations within the critical pedagogy literature seem to voice positions grounded more in one or the other (or multiple!) faith elements. seems to draw more from Caputo.
Henry Giroux.’’ Teacher Education Quarterly 31. This is also critical pedagogy as solidarity and a counter to the ‘‘limitations and excesses of a detached critical perspective. in the communion of a language of faith’’ (DF. not in our strength of insight. As educators we often are the system. and a critical Easter and Exodus — combine both to differentiate critical pedagogy from other educational theories and to instill in it a renewed sense of ethics and humility. And they often value critical analysis. 135). Implications and Possibilities What does this argument mean for critical pedagogy? These elements of critical faith — the inbreath of hope. 76. Border Crossings: Cultural Workers and the Politics of Education (New York: Routledge. 77. This may lead us toward a higher belief in a spirit that helps to form a community of faith. even as we are both its cause and effect. following Freire. ‘‘Embers of Hope: In Search of Meaningful Critical Pedagogy. 63. even in a sense organic. This critical faith cautions us toward hesitancy. as do colleagues who care about educating for democracy but reject Marxist or postmodern or feminist critical analysis. one’s ultimate concern. But that analysis must be tangible. 1 (2004): 128.616 EDUCATIONAL THEORY Volume 61 Number 5 2011 implicit in our assertions. to begin at a place of faith is to esteem one’s positionality and one’s a priori values. one implication for critical pedagogy is a renewed push for communion: critical pedagogy as ‘‘border crossing. no. Purpel. Perhaps by orienting from critical faith. exploring how our faiths converge. This is critical pedagogy as transformation. Kanpol. I believe it is at this juncture of faith and communion that new possibilities open up for critical pedagogy. critical faith is both an ethics of ‘‘ought to be’’ and an ethics of listening. Gregory Michie. and individual value. As Tillich put it. For parents who might balk at ‘‘criticalese’’ still hold ultimate concerns. Tillich reminds us of the shared nature. The Moral and Spiritual Crisis in Education. but in our force of prescription: ‘‘We must have the courage not only to examine how we as individuals reﬂect the values and norms of the culture. or more precisely. but of criticalist with parent or criticalist with uncertain colleague. critical pedagogues can ﬁnd ways to situate theory closer to lived praxis in schools and to the immediate values and concerns of teachers and students. Thus. then. and Amy Rome. ‘‘faith is real only in the community of faith. of our ultimate concerns. we might feel a passion for critical proselytizing. 2005). If critical 75. In this reading.’’75 Thus. is to meet on a common ground of faith. . but collaboration. ‘‘Critical Pedagogy and Liberation Theology.’’78 To form communion. And while.’’76 For to make communion with students and teachers is to engage in not merely persuasion. but within that rupture a vision of faith can transcend theoretical discourses without denying their value. one that ‘‘starts with the postmodern rupture of difference.’’ 116.’’77 My experience in schools tells me that teachers care about their students. 78. Here I think not in terms of criticalist with criticalist. William Ayers.
Kincheloe. while the religiousness of critical pedagogy reaches toward rebirth and renewal — an evocative reworlding — Caputo pulls it back from. say. and especially from essentialist discourses such as the standards movement. for criticalism acknowledges radical contingency: of presence.’’80 In other words. faith speciﬁcally means religious faith. perhaps signaling something insufﬁcient or even offensive to religious faith. 1996). 80. the content of those faiths radically diverge. However. and indeed past. critical faith urges toward transcendence. and a challenge I lay down here. however. Afﬁrming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education (White Plains. My hope. Critical faith is not faith only because it holds an ultimate concern. We saw this possibility in Amy Goodburn’s account: while initially at odds and opposed. to always interrogate its own assumptions. then critical pedagogy is a sham. one might reasonably ask. driven by that spiritual calling to recreate the world through a critical Easter and Exodus. but that simply holding an ultimate concern is itself indicative of having faith. If. the content of one’s ultimate concern does not determine whether or not one has faith. respectful engagement. For those who are suspicious of organized religion and associate faith with those suspicions. in terms of concern and worlding.Neumann Critical Pedagogy and Faith 617 pedagogy is to be an effective exploder of myths. For many. 79. Therefore. the faith implicit within the No Child Left Behind Act or within the standards movement? The answer lies in the totality of critical faith. it must also turn back on itself. identifying critical pedagogy as faith might clash with his or her own beliefs about what faith means. Kincheloe seems to espouse both this communion and this troubling of outcomes in arguing that ‘‘unless such a position induces a letting go that moves us to new forms of interconnection and compassion. . orienting critical pedagogy as faith also presents conceptual obstacles. because conceptualizing a critical pedagogy is inherently unstable. is that fundamentalism on all sides can be overcome. Sonia Nieto. with all of its accompanying baggage.’’ reasoning as much from hope as from critical analysis. just as importantly. then. In this faith. as Tillich held. New York: Longman. acknowledging that we look through a glass darkly and thus ‘‘reason from a faith. mere instrumentalism. perhaps most people. This quality differentiates critical pedagogy from other educational discourses. For the religious person. Unlike the standards movement. how does critical faith differ from.79 it must begin from this place of shared faith. presenting transcendence as a problem. perhaps through listening and patient. is also a humility. Critical Pedagogy. even as critical faith moves forward. a faith orientation might present obstacles of perceived dogmatism and evangelism. 136. it is also faith because of the content of that ultimate concern and. Another obstacle of a faith orientation lies within the idea of faith as transcendence. of interpretation. while perspectives on education as diametrically opposed as critical pedagogy and the standards movement both hold an implicit faith. of context. Thus.
however. Tony Knight and Art Pearl. 1995).’’ 116. by the beliefs expressed by her Christian fundamentalist students. Jonathon Silin and Fran Schwartz. . and the Politics of the Subject.618 EDUCATIONAL THEORY Volume 61 Number 5 2011 even affronted. teachers must hold it close. but from what we hold most dear. Noah de Lissovoy. 85. no. and David Tyack and Larry Cuban. Back in 1996. while people may hold different levels of awareness. the school reform literature clearly tells us that for any reform of school culture to be successful and lasting. 3 (2000): 197–226. Elizabeth Ellsworth. 2 (2006): 257–293. 3 (2001): 303–331. 84.’’82 This is a point worth exploring. Kanpol.85 So while productive critiques can be made of the forces affecting schools and society. Yet. Capital. no. not in the language of abstract and oftentimes impositional analysis. no. critical pedagogy is essentially invisible in schools. Goodburn.83 As far back as 1987. ‘‘Why Is Dissemination So Difﬁcult? The Nature of Teacher Knowledge and the Spread of Curriculum Reform. Cheryl Craig. 1989). Kanpol argued that ‘‘a sovereign of possibility must be held if we are to make serious inroads into the dominant culture. ‘‘Democratic Education and Critical Pedagogy. Mary Metz. ‘‘Real School: A Universal Drama Amid Disparate Experience. apart from isolated instances.’’ Curriculum Inquiry 31.’’ American Educational Research Journal 43.’’ Harvard Educational Review 59. she saw through critical reﬂection ‘‘more connections than differences between the discourses of fundamentalism and critical pedagogy. no ‘‘repressed or truer self for educators’’ from which to panoptically diagnose the educational landscape below.’’ 348. My reading of the critical pedagogy literature suggests that there is more distance than community with the teachers and administrators who run our schools. ‘‘Critical Pedagogy and Liberation Theology. and School Reform: A Case of ‘The Monkey’s Paw’. 86. ed. critical pedagogy too often seems to be articulated as merely another force to affect schools and society.’’81 I do not suggest that criticalists set aside transformative and emancipatory questions. Put differently. scholars struggled to theorize a meaningful critical pedagogy that might breathe life in schools. 8 (2003): 1586–1605. we can initiate dialogue and action. and one that speaks to the question of what constitutes critical pedagogy: the problem of effect. 75–91. there is no critical self completely separate from the structures and values criticalism critiques. Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform (Cambridge. ‘‘The Relationships Between and Among Teachers’ Narrative Knowledge.’’ Teachers College Record 105. 83.84 Perhaps the persistence of this struggle stems in part from emphasizing critical pedagogy as something almost entirely other than the dominant culture.’’ in Education Politics for a New Century. Cheryl Craig. The problem of communion leads us to yet another implication. 3 (1989): 297–324. ‘‘It’s a Question of Faith.’’ Urban Review 32. no.’’ Curriculum Inquiry 40. and thus from the culture (even of the teachers) already present in schools. Douglas Mitchell and Margaret Goertz (Bristol. no. ‘‘Staying Close to the Teacher. ‘‘Why Doesn’t This Feel Empowering? Working Through the Repressive Myths of Critical Pedagogy. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. no. 82. Pennsylvania: The Falmer Press. because as I believe any examination of schools and schooling will show. 3 (2010): 427.86 As 81. Communities of Knowing. ‘‘Staging the Crisis: Teaching. and as Tony Knight and Art Pearl have argued.
then.’’87 The question for critical pedagogy. It is my belief that a faith orientation presents new avenues from which to conceptualize a critical pedagogy that escapes this either/or thinking and serves as a foundation for both communion and transformation while balancing the tension inherent within critical faith. end zones and goal lines. is how can it speak to the teacher in the school down the street? If we take a broad look at education. Or can critical pedagogy escape this seemingly fundamental. yet essentially arbitrary dichotomy in recreating itself? The possibility for the continued growth and inﬂuence of critical pedagogy lies in how this question is answered. and a process of critique that return us. The Meaning of Educational Change (New York: Teachers College Press. a heavily Marxist critical pedagogy clearly has little. it seems to me. I submit. inﬂuence on schools. ‘‘where do we go from here?’’ we must examine a more foundational question: Is the content of critical pedagogy a promised land. 2001). or is it merciless criticality. at least in the United States. and are. the question of effect asks us whether critical pedagogy is a period or a question mark. and perhaps too simply. whether this is mythology or not. toward grasping at how we know we know that we know? Put differently. capitalists nonetheless. and the three anonymous reviewers for their keen insight in helping me develop this essay. even if they are without capital themselves. just are not Marxists. In other words. Most Americans. But more likely. ‘‘Educational change depends on what teachers do and think — it’s as simple and as complex as that. Neil Liss. at best a marginal. Michael Fullan. 115. is the possibility of critical pedagogy some ‘‘better’’ future toward which critical analysis is bent? Or does its possibility lie in the exhausting of outcomes? Before we ask the instrumental and material question. 87. This question of effect problematizes reconstructionist. believe the story of progress and perseverance. . again and again. methods of inquiry. I WOULD LIKE TO THANK Nicholas Burbules.Neumann Critical Pedagogy and Faith 619 Michael Fullan has observed. Perhaps this results from the fact that it is often couched in language that only educational scholars can read. it is because most people. and especially Marxist.
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