Saturday, July 23, 2005

Reflective Paper - CONSCIENTICIZING

CONSCIENTICIZING
A Reflective Paper
by: Randy S. Gamboa


The material provided to us talks about conscienticizing. Honestly, this is the first time I encountered the word and while I was doing some research on this particular topic I came across with several readings mentioning the work of Freire, whom I would like to believed awakened the minds of many educators through his work.

Here are some definitions of Conscientization based on my research:

“Conscientization is the deepening of the coming to consciousness. There can be no conscientization without coming first to consciousness, but not all coming to consciousness extends necessarily into conscientization”

In other words, conscientization is an ongoing process (not a one-time experience) whereby one becomes aware of factors and conditions that cause oppression by others and repression by oneself.

Conscientization is not only a matter of undertaking new projects and learning new skills; more fully considered, conscientization enacts freedom, creating a new human subject.

It means that education is the practice of freedom and depends on a political decision to make persons fully active in their concrete situation. That the illiterates be empowered, to raise their consciousness of their own and to motivate them to take charge of their own lives.

Conscientization rarely is a one-time awakening, but rather it is a process with multiple avenues of insightful moments as well as difficult times of denial and pain.

That process must be characterized by gradual as well as revolutionary changes at multiple levels ranging from alienation to liberation. Conscientization about one's actual reality takes place by submersion and intervention in it; hence, the necessity of doing inquiry mediated by reflective dialogue.

Basing on the definition above, I think education in the Philippines is under siege, curricula are being defined increasingly by government working with the business community. Educators are being told increasingly by the government what to teach and how to design our programs.

I strongly believed that educators and students have a right to empowering pedagogy that helps them to question their world and act on it. As an educator, I feel obligated to create opportunities and learning situations for my students to question why some people suffer, lack opportunities, and lose hope despite their hard work and resilience, while others have anything they want and more in a relatively easy way. I also feel the urgency to engage both the educators and students in the inquiry of conscientization, and to strengthen alliances for working toward a more just and democratic educational society.

The paper reminded us the purpose of education to bring critical-minded, conscienticized individuals, to lead out people, out of ignorance, out of yesterday. I agree that there is a need to revolutionize the education system, if only to contribute to the attainment of full humanity and that there is a “great” real demand for educators who are competent in problem-posing approach and experiential learning techniques.

Let me share my thoughts in these two approaches.

Problem Posing approach

In this approach, the teaching processes should provide students with opportunities and assistance for examining their social realities critically. This is a complex process of awakening, reflecting, learning from each other, and learning how to learn for oneself about issues of oppression. Educators should help students to achieve a critical understanding of their own reality and to engage in transformative actions.

By critical understanding, Freire referred it to a deep examination, through dialogue with others, of the legitimacy of the social order in terms of access to socioeconomic resources and opportunities. This examination should start in the immediacy of one's own reality, and from there identify the structures and ideology of oppression at the local, institutional and societal levels, taking into account the vital needs and interests of the various groups. To do critical understanding, the process should be mediated by dialogue. Dialogue seals the act of knowing, which is never individual although it has its individual dimension.

We should allow our student to engage in questioning the world around them and this is not indoctrination, we are just allowing the students to engage in deep examination of their own reality through inquiry and dialogue. But let me make it clear that the educators should not leave the
students by themselves nor manipulate them, meaning that educators should have directive responsibility.

In this approach, the individual inquiries should be shared through group dialogue and synthesis could be analyzed as part of a larger class discussion. In short, the problem posing approach could help students to engage the world around them, formulate their own ideas and judgments, challenge oppression and exploitation, and create more enriching and empowered lives which calls for good judgment that leads to moral action.

Experiential Learning Techniques

This approach in Learning is a broad term that includes educational methods that focus on the formation of knowledge for practice, often by turning experience into learning and it often seen as learning by doing. An example is Information Technology students in a university doing their summer practicum in their assigned workplace. The approach could be used also in classroom through techniques such a role paying or simulation exercises.

Experiential learning method often focuses on practical learning through a combination of both past and current experiences and is often student self-directed. In Information Technology course, a large part of experiential learning from field practicums combines practice in professional situations with supervision and direction from experienced practitioners and professors, as well as academic work in classroom settings.

This approach is student-centered and emphasizes the validity of students’ past and current experiences, and the importance of experience to student learning. In addition, it focuses on problem-solving skills, and thus it helps students gain skills for problem-solving in professional and practice situations.

CONCLUSION:


That education should help students to achieve a critical understanding of their own reality and to engage in transformative actions, and that there should be shared power in learning especially on the curriculum, its contents and methods and the coordination of its activities. That it should provide a forum open to imagining and free exercise of control by the students, educators and the community while providing for the development of skills and competencies.

To be more specific, I believe that there should be:
Democratic dialogue in the classroom
A curriculum situated in the learner’s reality
Participatory teaching formats
Student-centered learning




References:

Freire, P. (1973). Education for Critical Consciousness. New York: Continuum.

Ada, A.F. & Beutel, C. (1993). Participatory Research as a Dialogue for Social Action.

Giroux, H. A. & Aronowitz, S. (1985). Education under Siege. South Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey.

Purpel, D, Moral Outrage in Education (New York: Peter Lang, 1999).

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