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Emancipatory Pedagogy

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Behaviorist believes that children are regarded as blank slates and ready to be taught anything by more knowledgeable adults (Paul, 2003:3). In other words, learners are considered to be empty cups and ready to be filled up with various kind of knowledge given by teachers. However, new perspective into teaching must take into consideration as learners come to the class with not empty handed. They bring their prior knowledge, experiences, and hopes altogether into the classroom. Their mind is neither blank nor empty. Therefore, curriculum shifting is substantial to do. The jargon of transmitting knowledge is shifted to constructing meaning is likely more appropriate now.

It seems to me that Behaviorist’s perspective influences the process of giving Literature learning experience to students so far. Refer to Paul (2003) at least there are three reasons for this. First, in teaching Literature the teacher is clearly control both the children’s behavior and learning process. The children respond to the teacher’s direction and stimuli and tend to passively follow the teacher. Second, students are considered successful when they are free from mistakes. Third, learning follows a clear lesson plan. The effect of this paradigm causes learning Literature come in the form of memorizing names, years, and things related to the literary works as a uniformity understanding. New ideas that come from differences or derive from having different perspectives are not allowed. Students are likely prevented from questioning and processing the new knowledge that may cause them to think in the different path with the teacher.

It can be said that teaching literature means transferring knowledge about literature by introducing the periodic table of literary work seems need to be leaved out in no time. Remembering names and their titles of master piece of work lead the students nowhere but memorization. In contrast, teaching literature means involving and giving experience with the literature itself should become new paradigm. When students are introduced with the world of literature, at the same time teacher also introduces what literary is, and how to learn it.

For most of novice learners and a little bit allergic with literature like me, learning literature sounds like something to be hindrance. Despite this, I felt being challenged when various kind of poem offered. Then I could make a clear difference between the nature of literature and things which are not, and I could see how to learn it. Being given adequate examples or modeling through various products of literature drive me as student to aware that literature can be learned and it (in its way) gives enjoyment too. The role of teacher in this stage is pivotal. The way teacher introduces what literature is and what he believes on it influences the students indirectly. When teacher believes that every student can digest any kind of literary work, he will apply certain approach to meet this. Inviting students to read, enjoy, or listen to a work of art enable the student to have a very subjective experience to share. This means that the teacher does not transfer the experience and make it as knowledge. Nevertheless empower learning process to gain literature experience and enable students to succeed as much as possible until they ‘feel’ what literature is.

The sequences of building understanding on the nature of literature is also another teaching approach that teacher must take into account. Starting teaching by giving examples is a right move. After the students get familiar with the kinds and texture of literature, teacher asks students to imitate so that they can feel and know what it is like to be a writer or reader. Later on, the students are given another task that suitable with their level of understanding.

Teacher’s role as knowledgeable adult is shown through his role as adaptor, communicator, collaborator and also risk taker.  Adaptor means digging student’s experience through questions and treat the answers in humane way help students understand the nature of literature appropriately. Whereas, risk taker refers to teacher is not afraid of having unwelcomed answers from the learners. Otherwise, he takes the different point of view of the students as power to dig deeper on students’ understanding on the matter being discussed.

Musthafa (1994: pp.54-55) mentioned three challenges for classroom teacher to enable students construct meaning. The challenge demands teacher to consider the structure of the teaching itself so that the learners can do as planned and stated in terms of goal of teaching. Teaching structure rests in three major parts.

  1. Approach

Through Approach teacher introduces the nature of Literature and states how to learn literature. By giving these in advanced, the students are hoped to understand the content and context of literature. Teacher’s approach relates to what teacher’s belief. When teacher considers that doing literature means experiencing literature, he will employ inquiry and group based approaches. For example, the learners question what poem is. The teacher brings the poem to the class and let the students see what piece of works can be classified as poem. Apart from that, teacher also invites students juxtapose point of view to come to new ideas. The question given at school such as “what moral lesson can you take from this drama?’ seems to prevent students to have different ideas. To avoid this, changing question will create active learning and comprehend demanding. Take these questions to arouse students’ interest and curiosity on a drama of Antigone by Sophocles. 1) Who is Antigone? 2) Is she a true hero or traitor? 3) How can you prove your statement? 4) Who is Kreon?

In short, it can be said that learner centered literature learning where it is built on what teacher bring and belief to the class affects the success on giving learning experience to learners.

  1. Design

Literature teacher is someone who is not only ready to be the model of the learning process but also able to integrate pedagogy with students. Involving students’ personal life experiences, feeling and also previous literary experience can be a way to integrate learning gain with the learners. Further, giving learners learning experience may come into existence by demonstrating or modeling the material will be given. Adequate exposure enables learners to get rich examples on the area being learned. Showing the work of the teacher himself can be an ultimate example. He shows the product and shares it to the class. After that, he can advocate students to see the process of how this product comes into being. This activity is substantial. This gives learners meaningful learning experience. As learners can learn how a writer write or find out what causes a writer write.

  1. Procedure

Literature teacher must bring learning and teaching purposes into the class. To gain this learning and teaching purpose, he arranges some procedures that involve himself as teacher and students as learners. Learners can get learning experience if teacher gives the students chance to do so. Innovative method such as giving time for students to experience individual reading, free-stressed discussion and interpretation is part of friendly procedures that can be applied in the classroom.

Learning literature in person is probably new experience for some students. For me, it really affects how I see and feel on literature. As a language teacher, I feel being invited to imitate the steps I got in my learning experience in the classroom into my own class. Even tough, literature is not stated in the secondary school curriculum to be given; morally I am responsible to introduce my students a literature course to make them more humane. I believe that my decision to introduce literature to the class in a small step toward innovative teacher. To sum up, shifting my learning experiences to teaching later is form of responsible emancipatory pedagogy.



David Paul. 2003. Teaching English to Children in Asia.  Longman Asia ELT, Pearson Education North Asia Limited

Musthafa, Bachrudin. 1994. Literary Response: A Way of Integrating Reading-Writing Activities. Vol.31. Pp. 52-58.


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