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Faculty and the Hidden Curriculum

Social work students must experience feeling empowered in their educational socialization process in order for them to become empowered practitioners—practitioners who themselves will facilitate empowerment in their work with service participants. Social work faculty are charged with the task of ensuring an environment that is conducive to such a socializing experience (Franz & Moran, 1993; Huff & McNown Johnson, 1998). Many educators utilize pedagogical paradigms that are congruent with this notion of socialization, and they develop strategies that more closely mirror the practices that they hope students will implement once they enter the field of social work (Burstow, 1991; Coates, 1994; Finn & Jacobson, 2003; Graham, 1997; Ife, 2008; Neuman & Blundo, 2000; Pearson, 1998; Roche et al., 1999). This book offers examples of such paradigms and strategies.

The foundation of most of the more congruent paradigms is critical pedagogy based on the work of Paulo Freire (1993). Critical pedagogy focuses on transformation throughout the educational process as opposed to transmission. It not only allows but also consciously facilitates student empowerment and resistance. In collaboration with educators, students become knowledge creators and mobi- lizers (Freire, 1993; Ife, 2008; Weick, 1993). Rather than reproducing the status quo, students and educators prepare for the future, a yet unknown future, in which transmitted knowledge at best might ensure a status quo and at worst hinder the changes needed to facilitate social justice and equality (Brookfield, 1995; Giroux, 1983b; Shor, 1996).

S elective negligence in students has a parallel in the faculty practice. The term “publish or perish” is well-known in academia (Brookfield, 1995; Gair & Mullins, 2001; Snyder, 1971), and faculty are often rewarded for their research productivity first and for their teaching record second. In addition to the emphasis placed on research as opposed to teaching, the research endeavor can be an isolating experience in which collaboration may not be encouraged (Brookfield, 1995). To be fully recognized, faculty members have to produce journal articles and books, preferably as sole or first authors. Importantly, faculty have internalized the unilateral authority of teachers as normal. As a first step toward becoming an effective and reflective educator, faculty need to become aware of their own socialization as teachers (Shor, 1996; Zeichner & Gore, 1990). Brookfield posits that the best learners often make the worse teachers because they have not been struggling with dissonance throughout their own educational process and therefore have not reflected on their role as educators. Educational programs are often thought of as learning places for students, not for teachers. However, the realities of students and faculty have many parallels, and both are “prisoners in the same box” (Snyder, 1971, p. 155). Students and faculty are not passive recipients; they are capable of producing and mediating circumstances (Giroux, 1983a). By critically reflecting on the processes within education, teachers recognize that what happens in the classroom “changes the world” (Brookfield, 1995, p. 266). “[T]he ways they treat students increase or dampen students' sense of agency. Being aware that classrooms mirror the structures and inequalities of the wider society, they make a deliberate attempt to work democratically” (Brookfield, 1995, p. 266). The education of social pedagogues and the CHS provide examples of such deliberate pedagogy.

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