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Copy of "Conceptualizing Teaching Acts" from B. Kumaravadivelu, Beyond Methods: Macrostrategies for Language Teaching

Summary of 1st chapter

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Transcript of Copy of "Conceptualizing Teaching Acts" from B. Kumaravadivelu, Beyond Methods: Macrostrategies for Language Teaching

Kumaradivelu's philosophy of teaching in a nutshell: "Academic pursuit without social relevance is meaningless." (from his bio)
Teaching is a vocation which “comprises a form of public service to others that at the same time provides an individual a sense of identity and personal fulfillment” (p. 5)
There are three ways to look at the role of teachers: (a) passive technicians; (b) reflective practitioners; (c) transformative intellectuals or critical pedagogists (p. 8)
(a) Passive technicians promote student comprehension of content knowledge (transmission of tradition). Teachers execute what is prescribed for them. This becomes boring and leads to disempowerment of teachers. (p. 9)
(b) Reflective practitioners (introduced by John Dewey early in the 20th century) use "reflective action" which is context-sensitive and grounded in intellectual thought. Teachers are seen as problem solvers in a holistic approach that emphasizes creativity, artistry, and context sensitivity. They do not rely on professional experts. Teachers must be self-critical to be productive. This role has only recently affected 2nd language teaching.
(c) Transformative intellectuals or critical pedagogists follow Paolo Freire' (Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972) and other works) which "espouse the cause of sociopolitical emancipation and individual empowerment through the democratic process of education.” According to Freire, all pedagogy "…is embedded in relations of power and dominance and is employed to create and sustain social inequalities.” Critical pedagogy takes seriously the lived experiences of teachers & learners and empowers students for transformative action (Giroux, quoted on p. 14). Among other things, it is:
These three perspectives are not "absolute opposites" but rather are "relative tendencies." Teachers must engage in a continual process of self-reflection and self-renewal, for which they must be able and willing to transcend the professional theories transmitted to them through formal teacher education programs and try to conceive and construct their own personal theory of teaching. In other words, the process of transformative teaching demands that teachers take a critical look at the dichotomy between theory and practice....” p. 17

“[T]heory & practice should inform each other, and should therefore constitute a unified whole.” (p. 18) But if teachers are only reacting to professional theory, they will only perpetuate "the artificial divide between theory and practice and between the theorist’s professional theory and the teacher’s personal theory." Teachers must be empowered to design their personal theories based on their own experiential knowledge and understand, interpret and test the professional theories and ideas constructed by outside experts.” (p. 19)
“...Teachers play an unmistakable and unparalleled role in the success of any educational enterprise. Their success and the satisfaction they derive from it" depend to a large extent on the quality of their (self-critical) mind engagement in which they "recognize the symbiotic relationship between theory, research, and practice, and between professional, personal, and experiential knowledge.” p. 21-22
We must see theory not as product but as process. Theorizing is an intellectual activity comprised of (a) speculative theory, (b) findings of empirical research, and (c) experiential knowledge of practicing teachers. Our “primary concern...should be the depth of critical thinking rather than the breadth of content knowledge.” This will enable us to move beyond the classroom to the community and the world. (Academic pursuit without social relevance is meaningless!)
inquiry oriented
socially contextualized
committed to democratic, self-directed education
committed to pluralism (p. 15)
important theoretical basis
of this role
, B. The postmethod condition: (e)merging strategies for second/foreign language teaching. TESOL quarterly. 1994. 28. 27-48

, B. Beyond methods: macrostrategies for language teaching. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 2003.

Universidade Federal do Acre
Campus Cruzeiro do Sul

Conceptualizing Teaching Acts
(B. Kumaravadivelu, 2003)

Prof. Ms. Francisco José Costa dos Santos

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