Chapter 7 ‘Holding Critical Conversations about Teaching’ in Brookfield, S.D. (1995) Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
p140: Although critical reflection often begins with autobiographical analysis, its full realization occurs only when others are involved. [BUT] IT require a moral and political culture characterized by an openness to diverse perspectives an ideologies, and a respectful acknowledgement of the importance of each person’s contribution, irrespective of seniority or status. Creating the ulture involves breaking patterns that emphasize competitiveness and a privatization of knowledge. [BUT] and attempts to enforce if through mandatory talking circles ensures that any ensuing collegiality is “contrived”.
p141: [groups] need to find ways [to] bring to the fore questions of power and hegemony. Talking to colleagues helps us become aware of how much we take for granted in our own teaching and how much of our practice is judgemental.
p142: teacher talk can easily become a swapping of mutually reinforcing prejudices, an experience in groupthink. [ALSO] through its neglect of certain voices and perspectives, conversation can also reproduce and reinforce inequities of race, gender, class, etc
p143: for critical conversation to have an chance of happening, participants must feel safe in declaring imperfection, that no person or ideology will dominate and that all voices will be heard and respected. [AND] It is important to spend some time evolving ground rules that will frame how democratic talk between and among teachers might happen. [SO] teachers’ own critical incidents can be a starting point.
p144: Steps to developing ground rules
- Consider the best group conversations you’ve been part of. Why best?
- Consider the worst. Why worst?
- Take turns sharing insights about ‘best’. Identify commonalities.
- Take turns sharing ‘worst’. Identify commonalities.
- Try to agree on 3 characteristics the new group will aim to use. Be specific, use examples.
- Try to agree on 3 characteristics the new group will aim to avoid. Be specific, use examples.
- Attempt to draft a charter for group, ensuring majority agreement with each ‘rule’.
p146: Possible group conversation starters…
(N.b, it is worth noting that Brookfield has published an updated version of this book, however, it does not now contain the same chapter, which for the purposes of this module is very useful. Brookfield 2017 also features in the resource list and is well worth spending some time reading through some of the issues more pertinent to the 21st century he raises in the updated version)
Brookfield (1995, p.144) asks some pertinent questions in relation to creating ground rules for critical conversations. Take the first two questions (outlined below) and reflect upon these in your journal:
• Think of the best group conversations you’ve ever been involved in. What things happened that made these conversations so satisfying?
A shared interest
Respect for each others opinions
No feelings of ‘one-upmanship‘
Freedom to question without fear of being ‘shot down’
• Think of the worst group conversations you’ve ever been involved in. What things happened that made these conversations so unsatisfactory?
No real listening
Feeling of judgement