Refreshing critical pedagogy and citizenship education through the lens of justice and complexity pedagogy

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Global Studies of Childhood, 2018, 8 (4), pp. 355 - 367
Issue Date:
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© The Author(s) 2018. Maximal citizenship educators are committed to advancing an approach to citizenship learning with the following staple features: learner-centred; experiential; problem- and action-oriented; racialised, classed and gendered analysis of power; and strengthening the public sphere and democracy. This type of approach to education shares many similarities with the principles of critical pedagogy. However, there have been valid arguments that Frankfurt School Critical Theory inspired pedagogy still tends to focus on class, at the expense of gender and race, analyses. This article seeks ways to refresh and extend the language and theoretical frameworks used by critical pedagogues. To do so, it will deploy the terms justice pedagogy and complexity pedagogy. The adjective ‘justice’ does the same work as ‘critical’ in signalling the commitment to using education as a means to bring about a more socially just world. The recent rise in scholarship in complexity thinking lends itself to conceptualising critical pedagogy in necessarily fresh ways. This article draws attention to the kindred nature of guiding concepts in complexity thinking and critical pedagogy, including grassroots organising, distributed decision-making and emergent learning, before presenting a description of how such approaches might refresh critical pedagogy through a critical citizenship education programme using justice pedagogy. This example illustrates the way that justice pedagogy can inform decisions about appropriate teaching and learning strategies for children and young people today growing up in an increasingly globalised world.
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