Brookfield’s opinion is that “any teacher of any subject is engaged in politics since he or she is exerting influence and coercion in the organization of classroom activities” (Brookfield p. 236). “Anytime teachers encourage students to think in new and different ways, to explore alternatives to common sense interpretations of their experiences, or to challenge the accuracy and validity of society’s givens, their teaching is, in this sense, political” (Brookfield p. 241).
“Teaching is intended to encourage students’ growth and development and is inevitably infused with moral, social and political dimensions” (Brookfield p. 328). “You cannot teach without in some way changing yourself, your students, and the world around you” (Brookfield p. 237).The way we treat students, the way we organise our learning environments, evaluate and influence learners are all political elements.
I chose to research and reflect on this quotation as I can relate to it. Adult education isbased on transformative learning. Transformative learning is “designed to foster change as a form of adaption. This includes adapting to the needs and demands of the broader, socio-cultural context” (Dirkx).
Adults seek out education for “a new or different job, their current job, self-improvement, or greater involvement in their community” (Dirkx). All of these reasons for education have a political dimension. Once the learner has engaged in an educational session they are no longer the same person as there were prior to engaging in the educational session.
Teaching is a relationship with governments and societies. “Sociopolitical context of education includes, the conditions, laws, regulations, tradition and ideologies that influence and define education at any given time” (Nieto). “Teaching is political through decisions about funding, curriculum, class size, testing, tracking, and other matters of policy and practice”
Educators must be able to survive the politics of the organization. Teachers continuously teach under political pressures. Examples are; job postings, staff room, promotion, tenure, funding, the learning environment and publications. All of these factors shape the teachers practices in the learning environment.
I identify with this quotation as I was one of the two main leads in obtaining accreditation with the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of British Columbia (CLPNBC) and Private Career Training Institutions Agency of B.C. (PCTIA) for the new Provincial Practical Nurses Curriculum of British Columbia.
The insight that I gained from researching and reflecting on this quotation is that even the instructional strategies in the learning environment have a politic dimension. I had never thought that my decisions into instructional strategies were deemed to have a political element. As educators we need to be aware of the political aspect and implications of teaching. Adult educators “operate under the influence of political values that are central to the democratic tradition: (Brookfield p. 238).
Teachers are part of a community. Adult educators “believe in values such as honesty, compassion, respect, fairness and inclusion in the classroom. These educators are operating under the influences of political values” (Brookfield p. 238). And are culturally responsive teachers. “Culturally responsive teachers develop intellectual, social, emotional and political
learning by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills and attitudes” (Singer).
It is the teacher’s responsibility “to empower the learners to take control of their lives” (Singer). We encourage learners to construct new knowledge and skills while engaging in social change.
Teaching the Practical Nursing Program has many political dimensions and elements. It starts with the Government of British Columbia, approving the Provincial Practical Nursing Curriculum. There are laws and legislation that guide Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) practice in British Columbia. The Health Professions Act (HPA) states what duties a LPN can legally
perform in British Columbia. This is done through passing the Standards of Practice for LPN’s in B.C. The HPA grants authority to CLPNBC to regulate the practice of LPN’s in B.C.
Every day that I am teaching Professional Practice is political, as LPN practice is based on laws and legislation. As well as ethics developed by the self-regulatory body. At each session I facilitate the learner towards building upon previous knowledge/skills or constructing new knowledge/skills. “A variety of different factor are interrelated and integrated in the learning-teaching process” (Ivanic). Learning is not predictable therefore it varies from learner to learner (Ivanic).
I need to be cognizant of the teaching methods that I am using in the learning environment. And determine how the learners are comprehending the content/material and how they are perceiving my instructional methods. As a facilitator in adult education I “must take account of social aspects of learning, including the political and institutional context in which it takes place, the broader socio-cultural context in which learning is situated, and the social life in classrooms.
Social interaction is the key mechanism through which learning takes place” (Ivanic). I need to ensure that the instructional strategies that I am using are interactive and are suited to the learning styles of the learners in the class. As an adult educator I need to use “critical questioning techniques and through critical incident activity to facilitate the learners journey through transformation” (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner p.155).
I currently use a lot of interactive instructional strategies in the learning environment. Since starting the Provincial Instructors Diploma (PIDP) I have incorporated using Classroom Assessment Techniques (CAT) in my sessions. Now that I have gained knowledge and skills on how to effectively implement the use of questionnaires I will be using these to assess the
learners knowledge and the effectiveness of my instruction.
After each session I engage in critical self-reflection. Reflection is associated with change as I “assess my beliefs, goals and results of changing approaches to my work” (Imel).
Brookfield, Stephen, D., (2006), The Skillful Teacher On Technique, Trust, And Responsiveness In The Classroom
Dirkx, John, M., Transformative Learning Theory in the Practice of Adult Education: An Overview, Retrieved from the World Wide Web, http://www.iup.edu/assets/0/347/349/4951/4977/10251/af0eab12-c2ce-4d2c-b1a0-59b795415437.pdf
Imel, Susan, Change: Connections to Adult Learning and Education, Retrieved from the World Wide Web, http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.162.1794&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Ivanic, Roz, Dr., Understanding the Relationships Between Learning and Teaching; A Review of
Them Contribution of Applied Linguistics, Retrieved from the World Wide Web, http://nrdc.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=440&ArticleID=566
Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007), Learning in Adulthood aComprehensive Guide (3rd Edition)
Nieto, Sonaia, Teaching as Political Work: Learning from Courageous and Caring Teachers, Retrieved from the World Wide, http://www.slc.edu/cdi/media/pdf/Occasional%20Papers/CDI_Occasional_Paper_2006_Nieto.pdf
Singer, Alan, Pezone, Michael, Education for Social Change: From Theory to Practice, Retrieved from the World Wide Web, http://louisville.edu/journal/workplace/issue5p2/singerpezone.html