My favorite part about Ann George’s chapter on critical pedagogies in A Guide to Composition Pedagogies was her suggestions of giving students agency in the classroom through devising the syllabus or even grading scale together. I appreciate the notion that encouraging students to be critical of dominant classroom structures will help make it easier for them to think critically about other discourses. Working at the Center for Writers, I witness how difficult it is for many first-year students to think critically because they are used to reading to absorb knowledge rather than to be critical. I think that establishing a classroom built upon democratic processes and critiquing dominant discourses will help students become more critical citizens.
Of course, not all theorists think this way; as the chapter discusses, Kelly Ritter – students argues that “capable of enacting the principles of civic discourse in internet spaces” (84). However, I argue that this is not true. While students may be capable of engaging in internet discourses, this does not necessarily mean that they do so productively. I think that Giroux and McLaren’s focus on teaching students to be aware of “civic responsibility” (82) is vital, particularly on the internet. It is much easier to be inconsiderate of others’ ideas on the internet than it is in person because you cannot see who the other people are — it is as if they are not real. I argue that a significant part of successful democratic dialogue is respect and reason in order to productively progress the conversation, which is difficult to find in many internet forums. Thus, think that critical pedagogies can also be applied to internet or digital citizenship to help students become critical members of the internet community.
One practical method of doing this is to engage students in political and cultural discussions through the Twitter conversation @KQEDedspace, which encourages students to respond to a popular current event or idea through a Tweeted question every Friday. When participating in these conversations, students must respond to what others have said and frame their argument in 150 characters or less, which is a challenging rhetorical task. Comments from other Tweeters will also help them understand what rhetorical strategies are more effective than others (perhaps, for example, a student makes a faulty claim and another Tweeter calls him or her out on it). Thus, @KQEDedspace is an arena for students to engage in internet discourses as well as develop their own voices as a form of social action and cultural critique, all of which are highly valued by critical pedagogies. This activity also allows students to explore their own identities and build their own understanding of how to approach and critique dominant discourses, rather than being given “a ready-made critical theory” (85), which George criticizes. Overall, I think that incorporating a critical awareness of digital citizenship into the study of critical pedagogies is essential in today’s society.
Q1: Would you set aside time for @KQEDedspace in your classroom? What are some values of this activity? What are some limitations?
Q2: Do you think that critically exploring digital citizenship has a place within critical pedagogies? What is your reasoning?