Practising critical pedagogy through the lens of constructive-developmental theory

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Butler, Sheila
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University College Cork
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The research question addressed here is ‘How to identify and effectively implement a developmental pedagogy that contributes solutions to, rather than causes of, inequality’. The research is conducted using first person, educational emancipatory action research. Both the research method and objective targeted transformation, required cultivation of a rich understanding and rationality of practice, and provided an opportunity to examine tacit beliefs and assumptions as a process to improve self-awareness. Uniquely synthesizing the fields of critical pedagogy and constructive-developmental theory, this study provides a living account of a transformative journey from a goals-oriented, instrumental pedagogue to a reflective practitioner. Multiple methods for data collection included reflective journals as well as feedback loops from multiple perspectives of students, colleagues and doctoral cohort. These were used in planning changes to practice, the justification and rationale behind the changes, as well as in gathering evidence of meaningful change and achievement of goals. The Portfolio is organised into three Essays. Essay One is a Professional Development Review highlighting tension between what is taught in Management and HRM and growing inequality. Recognising the author as both a subject and an agent of business management education, an understanding of the contribution of business education to inequality was sought. Essay Two investigates the causes of inequality. Economic and administrative systems within capitalism are questioned, as well as the business values that are developed and honed through education and business experience. The research identifies that an overemphasis on instrumental reason and objectivity, and decoupling values from seemingly objective managerial decisions, results in an erosion of fairness and equity within organisations and society. The propositional theory of critical pedagogy was identified as a means to contribute to the solutions rather than the causes of inequality. Essay Three analyses the implementation of a critical pedagogy, highlighting the gap between the propositional theory and the lived experience. The research reveals a hidden developmental expectation that those implementing critical pedagogy possess fourth order development complexity as it requires resisting normative notions of the teacher role and the teacher/student relationship to disseminate power for learning and knowledge creation. The research concludes to indicate that addressing inequality in society is possible, but requires addressing at the individual level through constructive development maturity. Economic and political systems within societies are merely a reflection of the individuals within it. Circularly, individuals who operate at lower developmental levels internalise the dominant ideology and enact behaviours and identities ascribed by culture generally. Individuals can effect change in social structures, but only if they operate at a higher developmental order where they are less susceptible to external influences, discourses and narratives which can be accepted or rejected based on an integrated, unified and aligned identity.
Education , Critical pedagogy , Constructive-developmental theory
Butler, S. 2018. Practising critical pedagogy through the lens of constructive-developmental theory. DBA Thesis, University College Cork.
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