Theses Doctoral

The Challenge of Critical Pedagogy as a Social Studies Teacher Educator

Wylie, Scott

This study examines the evolution of my understanding of critical pedagogy as I work alongside my students to co-construct the curriculum in our social studies teacher education course. As a critical pedagogue, I seek to challenge traditional structures of power and control in the classroom and problematize the ideas and discourses that define our ability to act (and be acted upon) within the context of higher education. I embrace Paulo Freire's vision of education as dialogue between students-teachers and teacher-student.
Yet, my pedagogy is not enacted in a vacuum. My classes are bound within the institutional mandates of higher education and governed by state standards concerning teacher certification. Teachers and students are caught up in the context of schooling and the normative power that represents. My attempts to redefine asymmetrical classroom power relations are challenged by Foucault's argument that individuals assume responsibility for the constraints of power and become the principle of their own subjugation. Herein lies the crux of my dilemma as a critical social studies teacher educator: inhabiting the space between my commitment to Freirean critical pedagogy and my recognition of Foucauldian power relations.
This study uses an autoethnographic lens to examine my evolution as a critical social studies teacher educator. I employ creative nonfiction and narrative vignettes to invite the reader to share in my experiences as a teacher educator and engage in a dialogue about the implications of the text. Teacher educators, teachers, and students grapple with issues of classroom power and control on a daily basis. This study opens a space for these readers to rethink their own pedagogical commitments and furthers the discussion of what it means to be a critical pedagogue.
My understanding of authority and my conception of what it means to be a teacher educator continue to evolve as I work alongside students in a co-constructed social studies teacher education course. My discomfort with my institutional authority has given way to an acceptance of the authority that emerges from knowledge itself. I have come to recognize a difference between authoritarian pedagogy and pedagogical authority. These understandings continue to develop, for I am (and will always be) in my beginnings as a teacher educator.


  • thumnail for Wylie_columbia_0054D_11935.pdf Wylie_columbia_0054D_11935.pdf binary/octet-stream 735 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Teaching of Social Studies
Thesis Advisors
Gaudelli III, William
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014