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Designing critical pedagogy for overcoming the hegemonic culture embodied in my life experience

Yusuf, M. and Taylor, P.C. (2012) Designing critical pedagogy for overcoming the hegemonic culture embodied in my life experience. In: Exploring Leadership & Learning Theories in Asia (ELLTA 2012) Conference, 11 - 13 December 2012, Langkawi, Malaysia


Stimulated by my encounter with the strange term ‘hegemony’ – a dominant ideology that is largely invisible to its adherents – I (first author) recently ‘returned’ to the experiences of being in a chemistry class. Feeling stressful, frustrated and unmotivated was among the symptoms that I confronted. Understanding what gave rise to these symptoms directed to the exploration of the researcher’s experiences during secondary school, pre-university, bachelor’s degree, in-service teacher training, and as a postgraduate student during recent master’s degree studies. Drawing on new educational research paradigms, I designed an arts-based critical auto/ethnographic methodology. This approach enabled the researcher to be creative and imaginative and to engage artfully in critical self-reflection on my personal experiences through narrative writing. The research was governed by quality standards of transferability, trustworthiness, verisimilitude, crystallization, polyvocality, pedagogical thoughtfulness, critical reflexivity and envisioning. In this research seven dimensions of hegemony that had negatively impacted my chemistry education experiences were identified: teacher domination, science content, perfectionism, assessment, traditional teaching methods, poor classroom environment, and non-teaching workload. I recognized manifestations of critical pedagogy in my earlier English and History classes which could counteract the hegemonic culture of the traditional chemistry classroom: (1) teachers acting as transformative intellectuals, (2) students being encouraged to have a critical conscious voice, (3) pursuing new forms of culture and knowledge, and (4) emphasizing ethics as central to education. An outcome of this professional self-study research is a model for transforming chemistry education: (1) using recycled materials to create ‘green chemistry’ teaching aids, (2) applying critical pedagogy as a teaching and learning approach, (3) embracing technology as a supplement to teaching and learning, and (4) applying science innovation ideas as part of classroom activities. This model can be used by innovative teachers to enliven our chemistry classrooms with more meaningful, stimulating and socially responsible learning experiences appropriate for the 21st Century.

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