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"A shared house of learning": The student experience of critical pedagogy and liberatory education in the social studies classroom

Linda M Kalbach, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Nine students participated in a study designed to understand the student experience in a social studies classroom where the instructional approach was grounded in the theories of critical pedagogy. This qualitative study employed a heuristic phenomenology as the methodology. ^ The study revealed the participants experienced a learning situation far removed from the traditional social studies classroom, which often features a more standardized curriculum and a more teacher centered approach to instruction. In contrast, the instructional strategy used in the study focused on student directed learning opportunities, project based assessments and a curriculum built around issues of social justice. ^ The study was conducted in a new school, referred to by the pseudonym of the Arts School, which was in its first year during the 1999–2000 school term. The school is located in a mid-western city and has a student body of 60 students. While the Arts School provided the setting, the study focused specifically on the social studies classes of world history, American History, sociology, Citizenship Issues and economics. ^ Relying on student voice, the study reveals the complexities of teaching and learning in an environment designed to empower students as learners, to transform the traditional student-teacher relation, and to raise student consciousness on issues of social justice. The study offers insights into student perceptions about the quality of their learning in traditional social studies classrooms and the degree to which this can be enhanced through critical pedagogy. ^ The study offers additional research ideas regarding student and teacher perceptions of the experience. ^

Subject Area

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Social Sciences

Recommended Citation

Kalbach, Linda M, ""A shared house of learning": The student experience of critical pedagogy and liberatory education in the social studies classroom" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9997010.