April Moyer English 105H12 Substantive Revision 5 December 2000

April Moyer
English 105H12
Substantive Revision
5 December 2000
One of Henry A. Giroux’s principles for critical pedagogy reads: “Critical
pedagogy needs to develop a theory of teachers as transformative intellectuals who
occupy specifiable political and social locations . . . . Critical pedagogy would represent
itself as the active construction rather than transmission of particular ways of life.”
Giroux’s statement demands a great deal of change for many educators in today’s
societies. If the guidelines set by Giroux were followed, the word “teacher” in the sense
that the word means someone who simply relays information on to students would
have to be redefined. The new definition of a teacher would be someone who assists in
a student’s learning by helping them to understand the world, not just memorize
First of all, through this particular principle, Giroux calls for teachers who are
transformative intellectuals. I believe that a teacher who is transformative would cause
transformations in their students’ lives. Microsoft Bookshelf 98 defines a transformation
as: “A marked change, as in appearance or character, usually for the better.” A
transformative teacher would be capable of changing students’ lives for the better.
Also, Paulo Freire touches on the importance of transformation by mentioning in his
Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “ . . . that reality is really a process, undergoing constant
April Moyer
Ewald 105H12
transformation” (p. 56). Giroux wants teachers to demonstrate to their students that the
world, in reality, is always undergoing change.
The second part of this particular principle focuses on “construction rather than
transmission of particular ways of life.” I believe that the particular ways of life that are
referred to in the principle emerge from the diversity of lifestyles that exists in the
world. The diversity of life includes race, religion, ethnicity, language, and the other
countless aspects that define a culture. Giroux believes that critical pedagogy should
build each individual student’s knowledge of different cultures. Transmission of the
particular ways of life would be just having the students read about cultures or a
teacher who has only read about the different ways of life telling the students about the
diversity of the world and expecting them to memorize the information. Giroux is
proposing that teachers go above the norm of transmission and expose their students to
different cultures physically, not only mentally, in order to enable the children to form
their own beliefs and opinions based on experience. Giroux’s concept of active
construction agrees with Freire’s problem-posing education. On page 65, Freire states:
“Problem-posing education affirms men and women as beings in the process of
becoming . . .” This type of education would reinforce the construction of ways of life,
which is what Giroux sees as a necessity in critical pedagogy.
In addition, I believe that Giroux’s principle would definitely benefit students
and communities. I believe that if transformative intellectuals in every grade taught
students, the outcome would be students who are prepared to enter the ever-changing
world. Also, if students were exposed to the different cultures of the world, there
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would be much less hate and much more understanding throughout societies. The
students would learn from the beginning of their education that everyone is different
and that there is no “right way” to live your life. Students would also benefit from the
active construction by realizing the myriad of opportunities that they will possess
throughout their lives.
A particular class in which this principle should be applied, and that I am
currently enrolled in, is Developmental Psychology. Exposing us to the reality of
different cultures and age groups would be extremely beneficial in this class. One
specific subject of the Developmental Psychology book is postnatal environments and
culture socialization, which states that different cultures have different goals for their
children, due to their environment. If Giroux’s principle were applied, we would be
allowed to see first hand, the different cultures and their practices concerning child
rearing. True, it would be difficult to transport the students to different parts of the
world to experience the cultures, but other measures could easily be taken in order to
enhance our knowledge about the topic. Our professor could arrange for guest
speakers who are members of different cultures to enlighten us about their child rearing
practices. This would allow us to hear about the cultures from people who actually
have participated in the cultures’ traditions, rather than hearing the information from a
professor who has only read about the cultures.
In conclusion, Henry A. Giroux has the desire for education to expose students to
the diversity of the constantly changing world. If teachers continue to base their topics
in the classroom only on textbooks, students will not fully understand the world and
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will not be ready for the reality that they will live in once they are finished with school.
In order to create a better future with well-rounded individuals, instructors should
follow the principles that were set forth by Giroux.
April Moyer
Ewald 105H12