[***Moderator's note: If you would like to receive Abraham Magendzo's paper in Word format, please send an e-mail to <email@example.com> and write in the subject line: "Critical pedagogy and HRE".***] Dear colleagues, At a recent meeting in Morroco a number of HR educators were present from all regions of the world to discuss "Human Rights Education and Training Issues among Human Rights NGOs". The workshop was organised by the Arab Institute for Human Rights (Tunisia) and the Documentation Information and Training Center in the Field of Human Rights (Morocco). I have been thinking very much about our discussion that we held on different occasions in Morocco. What I have been saying constantly is that we are missing is a pedagogical theory for our practical work in HRE. I am sending to all of you a very preliminary version of an article that I am trying to write on Critical Pedagogy and HRE. If you could react and introduce yourself on the article, we could together build such a theoretical framework. It is not necessary that all of us agree, however if we include our different and divergent points of view it will be very helpful. Hoping that you will find this an interesting and challenging exercise and find the time to react, Cariños Abraham ----------- HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION AS CRITICAL PEDAGOGY Abraham Magendzo K. June 2002 Critical Pedagogy as part of the critical theory Critical Pedagogy is close related to critical theory which refers to the work of a group of sociopolitical analysts associated to the Frankfurt School, whose prominent members included Adorno, Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, Marcuse and Habermas, among others. They were all interested in the idea of a more just society and to empower people to be in cultural, economic and political control of their lives. They argued that these goals could only be achieved through emancipation, a process by which oppressed and exploited people became sufficiently empowered to transform their circumstances for themselves by themselves. It is called 'critical theory' because they saw the route to emancipation as being a kind of self-conscious critique which problematises all social relations, in particular those of and within the discursive practices of power, especially technical rationalism. The critical theory's framework has been taken into education in a number of different ways, but most notably by Paulo Freire in his work with oppressed minorities which gave rise to the term critical pedagogy, meaning teaching-learning from within the principles of critical theory. Henry Giroux and Michael Apple have provided excellent theoretical accounts of the nature and working of critical theory in their work on the political, institutional and bureaucratic control of knowledge, learners and teachers. Critical Pedagogy is deeply related to the work of Paulo Freire for his pioneering efforts to link the development of literacy among oppressed peoples to the forging of a critical political consciousness. The aim is to develop a critical consciousness in the learner and to encourage social action to overcome oppressive social structures. For example, a program to teach illiterate adults to read would be part of a wider effort to overcome the marginal position of most of these people in terms of employment and civil rights. Many Western educational theorists and activists have been inspired by Freire's approach. It should be said that Human Rights Education, particularly in Latin America, started within the social movements or "popular education" movement (the peace movements, feminist movements, workers' movements, environmental movements, minority rights movements, etc), working within Freire's approach where people through dialogue learn and become conscious that they are subjects of rights and learn how to work on their own 'liberation'. In this perspective Human Rights Education becomes political education. Freire´s approach aims not just to give knowledge to the oppressed, but also to link the learning process with the actual social use of the knowledge-tool (empowerment). Henry Giroux is one of the main theoreticians of Critical Pedagogy and his work is perhaps the most comprehensive, accessible and succinct introduction currently available. Giroux sustains that "the critical question is whose future, story, and interests does the school represent. Critical pedagogy argues that school practices need to be informed by a public philosophy that addresses how to construct ideological and institutional conditions in which the lived experience of empowerment for the vast majority of students becomes the defining feature of schooling." In his perspective critical pedagogy attempts to: - create new forms of knowledge through its emphasis on breaking down disciplines and creating interdisciplinary knowledge. - raise questions about the relationships between the margins and centers of power in schools and is concerned about how to provide a way of reading history as part of a larger project of reclaiming power and identity, particularly as these are shaped around the categories of race, gender, class, and ethnicity. - reject the distinction between high and popular culture so as to make curriculum knowledge responsive to the everyday knowledge that constitutes peoples' lived histories differently. - illuminate the primacy of the ethical in defining the language that teachers and others use to produce particular cultural practices. Mezirow (1981), states that "we emancipate ourselves from these libidinal, institutional, or environmental forces that restrict our choices and our rational control over our existence, but that are beyond human control. The discernment reached through a critical awareness emancipates ourselves, in the sense that it makes possible for us to acknowledge at least what are the real motives underlying our problems." Habermas turned his attention to the "Critical Social Sciences" to find how to raise questions based on the emancipator's cognitive interest. "Critical Social Sciences perform the role of critics who try to determine whether the theoretical statements apprehend regular invariable aspects specific to social action, or whether they express petrified ideological relationships of dependency that could be transformed in principle". We must be critically conscious of how any ideology reflects and distorts the moral, social, and political reality, and what are those material and psychological factors that impact and support the false conscience they represent. "It is amazing to see how personal and social changes are attained when we are aware of how ideologies, be they sexual, racial, religious, educational, labour, political, economic or technological in nature, create or contribute to our dependence of objective powers... Habermas would consider the attempt to educate for liberation ... as if we would provide the student with an accurate and profound comprehension of his historical background". A pedagogy in which the full expansion of the freedom and autonomy of a person is hindered turns into a repressive system. Emancipation arises from the self-consciousness of the hidden coercion and from the liberating actions embraced in the critical pedagogy. The relation between Human Rights Education and Critical Pedagogy - The relation between Human Rights Education and Critical Pedagogy is very strong. We could affirm with no doubt that Human Rights Education is one of the most concrete and tangible expressions of critical pedagogy. In addition to it Human Rights Education -- in order to fulfill its main purposes: to empower people to become subjects of rights -- requires a proper educational atmosphere. An educational system based on the principles of critical pedagogy creates this appropriate environment. - Both, Critical pedagogy and Human Rights Education are very much interested to observe power structures outside and inside the educational system. Critical pedagogy is mainly interested to examine how the educational structure and the curriculum interact and shape knowledge. Human Rights Education is essentially concern with how educational structure and the curriculum have an effect on molding the "subject of rights". Educational hierarchy, educational ideology, models of discipline, State norms and school regulations are, among others, expression of power. The curriculum as a system of power itself reproduces, resists and accommodates these other power systems. The key resource used by the curriculum to promote their interests is the power to create and legitimate knowledge. By its form and content, this knowledge is tied to both the interests of the curriculum designers and to those of powerful groups in society. Human rights educators assuming a critical pedagogy stand should understand, analyze and be aware of how the power component of education and curriculum works and interacts; determining how people are formed and empowered to become subject of rights. By making this analysis Human Rights Education becomes critical living behind any innocent and naïve position. - A critical pedagogy considers freedom to choose, to express, to make decisions- within the general constraint of the curriculum, the material to be covered, the texts to be used, and the examination questions and essay topics- as an important component of power. When this sort of freedom exists, considerable scope exists for changing the content, to sample a range of viewpoints, to interact openly, etc. A critical pedagogy demands introducing teaching methods which give the students more control over their learning. When students choose what and how they learn, they are more likely to develop critical perspectives. Human Rights Education cannot operate in an educational atmosphere of restrains, vertical impositions, authoritarian and rigid relations or an environment of no dialogue and communication. Human Rights Education as a critical pedagogy encourages students to become independent learners, no longer dependent on injections from curricula and control by teachers. Human Rights Education by definition should provide students power and control over their learning. In this perspective Human Rights Education adopts different initiatives, which have been used in teaching: self-paced learning; student choice of topics; student design of learning; student-oriented learning in which students help each other to learn; Work in small groups to promote learning which is egalitarian and self-sufficient (study groups, discussion groups, consciousness-raising groups and community research groups). - Both Critical Pedagogy and Human Rights Education aim to empower people to become subject of rights. A subject of rights is someone with a basic knowledge of fundamental rights of people and who applies them in the promotion and defence of his or her own rights and the rights of others. It's a person who is familiar with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and with some of the human rights-related resolutions, covenants, and conventions, domestic and international declarations. The knowledge of these legal rules becomes an instrument of demand and surveillance oriented to the effective exercise of human rights.This subject of rights has also a basic knowledge of the institutions, especially those of its community, that protect its rights, and to which it can resort to when its rights are violated. Having knowledge of human rights related rules and institutions is not academic learning, it's a knowledge that gives more possibilities for action, and thus more power to get involved in the promotion and defence of our own rights and the rights of others. Furthermore, because of the close relationship between the subject of rights and power, we firmly believe that a person -- subject-of-rights -- shall necessarily develop many skills that permit him or her to say "NO" with autonomy, liberty, and responsibility faced to situations that threaten his or her dignity; the power to refuse arbitrary, unfair, and abusive requests that impair his or her rights; they have the right to choose, and to say "this is unacceptable to me"; the right to express with reasoning "this is a denigration to me, and consequently, I refuse it"; he or she has the capacity to make and fulfil promises, and to demand from others that they fulfil whatever promises they made; the capacity to defend and demand the enforcement of his or her rights, and the rights of others with sound and well-informed arguments, with assertive, well-structured and rational statements. He or she uses the power of the word, not of force, as they want to convince by the reason, not to subjugate by the force. - Critical pedagogy and Human Rights Education involves strategic pedagogic action on the part of classroom teachers, aimed at emancipation from overt and covert forms of domination. It is not simply a matter of challenging the existing practices of the system, but of seeking to understand what makes the system be the way it is, and challenging that, at the same time as remaining conscious that one's own sense of justice and equality are themselves open to question. The problematisation of consciousness and the values rooted in it is therefore the key characteristic of critical pedagogy and human rights education. - Critical Pedagogy is a pedagogy designed for the purpose of enabling the learner to become aware of conditions in his life, in society, and to have the necessary skills, knowledge and resources to be able to plan and create change. It is consciousness-raising. Critical Pedagogy, as does Critical Theory, strives to help one see the true situation, often being a form of oppression resulting in decreased freedom, and to help one understand that this can be changed; in other words it reveals possibilities, the learner is able to discover the possibilities and then act on them. In this same line of thought and purpose there is a fundamental role of Human Rights Education to make a critical contribution to the prevention of human rights violations by encouraging people to participate in society effectively as active, informed, critical and responsible members. >From this perspective human rights education shall be considered an ethical and political education. Human Rights Education considers learning to be much more a part of life, rather than something separate from and largely irrelevant to other parts of life. Human Rights Education is linked to the great problems the society is suffering, i.e.: chronic and demoralizing poverty; fragile and unstable democracies; social injustice; violence; racism; discrimination and intolerance against gays, lesbians and women; impunity; corruption. Human Rights Education shall strengthen the student's skills so that they can identify, analyse, and present solutions to these issues, appropriate the ethics of human rights, and have the skills to demand, bargain, and act. Bearing this in mind, it is assumed that human rights education shall be an integral part of the democratisation of societies, and that the respect and effective exercise of human rights not only pertain to the political dimension of democracy, but to its economic, social, and cultural dimensions as well. - Critical pedagogy, rather than regarding knowledge as the accumulation of neutral objectively verified facts, sees knowledge as socially constructed and therefore held differently by different groups. It aims at understanding people's values and uses of their meanings rather than 'finding "the" truth'. From this perspective both Critical Pedagogy and Human Rights Education imply an experiential and active methodology where people confront ideas, problematize their reality and face the personal or collective life situations and problems. To face problems it means to admit conflicts, to analyze contradictions, to deal with tensions and dilemmas that are imply in knowledge and in day-to-day experience. We should remember that historically speaking both Critical Pedagogy and Human Rights are related with social injustice, with oppression and violence and are the result of intensive and incessant struggles of people to fulfill their rights. This struggle is full with contradictions and conflicts. - Considering all the difficulties that exists to incorporate a critical pedagogy vision and a human rights educational practice in the educational system there is a temptation to start not from the existing institutions, but building one educational alternative from scratch. This position is based on the consideration that Critical Pedagogy and Human Rights Education challenges so deeply the oppressive social structures of education that it is better to built a renewal strategy. In other words Critical Pedagogy and Human Rights Education, in order to be relevant and successful, must become radical and assume a very critical stand toward the traditional educational structure, its conception, the way of learning take place, and the distribution of power. In my personal opinion Critical Pedagogy and Human Rights Education can make an important change in education, maintaining a critical position , but not a radical position. Being much more realistic and taking into consideration that education is resistant to change, I think that Critical Pedagogy and Human Rights Education should and could contribute to change by integrating, penetrating and infusing education and curriculum with social justice, empowerment and with social, cultural and political issues such as poverty, discrimination, peace, gender, racism, etc. BIBLIOGRAPHY Apple, W., Michael (1997). Official Knowledge. London: Routledge. Apple, W., Michael (1990). Ideology and Curriculum. New York: Routledge (2d ed). Apple, W., Michael (1995). Education and Power. New York: Routledge (2d ed). Carr, W. and S. Kemmis (1983). Becoming critical: Knowing through action research. Geelong (Australia): Deakin University Press. Ellsworth, E. (1989). Why doesn't this feel empowering? Working through the repressive myths of critical pedagogy. Harvard Educational Review, 59(3), 297-324. Paulo Freire, (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Giroux, H. (1983). Theory and resistance in education: A pedagogy for the opposition. London: Heinemann. Juance, A (2001). La Pedagogía de los Derechos Humanos. Paper presented at the International Seminar "Educating in Human Rights and Democracy to Recover the Joy" 15th anniversary of IPEDEHP, Lima, Peru, May 2001 Kemmis, S., Cole, P. and Suggett, D. (1983). Towards the socially critical school. Melbourne: Victorian Institute of Secondary Education. Magendzo, Abraham, and Donoso, Patricio (1992). Diseño Curricular Problematizador. Santiago, Chile: PIIE. Magendzo, Abraham; Rodas, T.; Dueñas, C. (1993). Educación Formal y Derechos Humanos en América Latina: Una visión de conjunto Biblioteca Básica Derechos Humanos. República de Colombia. Bogota: Consejería presidencial para los derechos humanos. Magendzo A. (1994). Educación en Derechos Humanos. Apuntes para una nueva práctica. Santiago de Chile: PIIE. Magendzo, A. (1996.) Curriculum, Educación para la Democracia en la Modernidad. Bogotá: PIIE, Instituto para el Desarrollo de la Democracia Luis Carlos Galán. Magendzo, A. (2000). La Educación en Derechos Humanos en America Latina:una mirada de fin de siglo en Experiencias de Educación en Derechos Humanos en America Latina (Roberto Cuellar, editor). San Jose: Instituto Interamericano de Derechos Humanos. Mezirow (1981). A Critical theory of adult learning and education. Adult Education(1), pages 5-6. Mujica, M.R. (1994). El reto de educar en derechos hummanos . Una experiencia de trabajo Nueva America, Peru. Short, I. (1992). Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change. London: University of Chicago Press Tripp, D. H. (1990). Socially critical action research. Theory into Practice, 24(3), 158-166. ======== Global Human Rights Education listserv ======== Send mail intended for the list to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Archives of the list can be found at: http://www.hrea.org/lists/hr-education/markup/maillist.php If you have problems (un)subscribing, contact <email@example.com>. **You are welcome to reprint, copy, archive, quote or re-post this item, but please retain the original and listserv source.
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