The Morality of Pedagogy

While reading A blog post by Grant Wiggins (from Understanding By Design), a passage really stuck out to me about what how our pedagogy – or instructional decisions may even have some moral implications.

It is imperative that we aggressively fight bullying and all ‘softer’ forms of marginalization of students. But as importantly, it is imperative that we find countless ways – as part of curriculum – to make ALL learners feel competent and a part of something worthwhile.

A 7th grade girl, when interviewed by teachers as part of our summer institutes, said the most amazing thing when asked how she felt about ‘typical’ teaching. “The more the teacher talks, the more I feel alone and useless.” Pedagogy, as everyone from Dewey to Freire has noted, has a moral dimension, whether we like it or not. What we feel comfortable with is irrelevant; what does the student need to prosper is the only question that matters.

While this 7th grade student may not speak with the voice of all students; it lead me to reflect on the importance of placing learning in the hands of students through challenging work, authentic discussions, and other activities that include the students’ voice as often as we can.

The alternative can be very demoralizing.  A student who doesn’t get a voice in class may begin to wonder whether or not their voice really matters.

I write this to encourage you to reflect on your classroom, your students, and determine how you can create opportunities in your classrooms for the voices of all of your students to be valued.

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