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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Critical pedagogy and situated practice: An ethnographic approach to preservice teacher education

Pat Smith.

While there has been much discussion of a critical pedagogy, and especially critical literacy (Luke 2001: Lankshear 2002), in schools that would reinvent education in opposition to the traditional purpose of curriculum, which is the reproduction a subordinate consciousness (Giroux 1983) there seems to be a obvious need to include pre- teacher education into the equation. Freire (1978;1985) contends that that we need to explore the non positivist nature of the knowledge we are teaching, and the ways in which producing such knowledge deepens commitment and involves action to transform the world-informing critical teaching. To believe that placing students in learning milieu automatically creates a situation for critical knowing is a vain hope. An intellectual discipline should be taught through a practice of knowing that enables learners to become active and critical subjects who are constantly increasing their critical abilities. Pre-service teachers need to study the cultural influences surrounding an individual school, and what teachers and students actually learn in classrooms in order to think critically and engage in dialogue about this socialisation (Zeegers & Smith 2003 in progress). In response to these beliefs, the University of Ballarat, using Shirley Brice-Heath's(1983) model of ethnographic research has been adapted for preservice teachers, who are trained to be local ethnographers, studying scientifically the language and habits of a school community. This ethnographic study is at the centre of a desocialising model for pre- teacher education that is built on Freirean themes for teacher education. The paper will explain, with data from practice, how critical literacy is developed across the curriculum; learning is situated in the preservice teachers' cultures; the possibility of becoming change agents in a community is investigated; the realities and consequences of inequality in schools and society are examined; the arts as vehicles for transformation of meaning are explored


Pat Smith  (Australia)
Senior lecturer
School of Education
University of Ballarat

  • Critical pedagogy
  • Preservice teachers situated practice
  • Students doing ethnography
Person as Subject
  • Preservice teachers

(30 min Conference Paper, English)