Praxis makes perfect


15 months ago I didn’t even know what praxis was:

“reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it.”(Friere, 1972 p28).

Or more simply- the combination of theory and practice- praxis.

I have always maintained I am a practitioner and not an academic and you only have to look at my rantings on twitter about #academicwankery to see how alien and unintelligle I have found a lot of my research to be.

I am not alone in this as teachers working in the field of challenging homophobia with academics, have frequently reported that they feel excluded by the habitually used academic discourses leading to a sense of inadequacy and exclusion (DePalma and Teague, 2009)where the use of such language may reinscribe power and privilege (two of the very concepts this work aims to address)  (Darder and Baldotano, 2009).

However being almost at the otherside of 15months immersion into academia and I can see the value in using words such as praxis, hegemony, patriachy, praxis, paradigm, opression, kyriachy, intersectionality.

In the words of Ronseal- they kind of “do what they say on the tin”- well actually they don’t always, and there is significant debate about the definitions of each term and the limitations of the concepts. However when you have a wordcount to stick to, using “hegemony” saves you about 2 pages in protracted explanations!

Still don’t know how to say the word out loud though- and judging from the debate I had on twitter yesterday- neither do many! (Hegg ee monnee or Hedge ee monnee or Hed Jem Onnneee?)

More importantly recognising such concepts has been significant for me. If you don’t know what hegemony is then you don’t need to say it out loud if you can help it! it becomes harder to recognise and therefore harder to challenge.  I think I am possibly now a convert to academic wankery on some levels- whilst always striving to keep my language clear and accessible to practitioners.

I think the most significant struggle I have had with this masters has been trying to bridge the gap between theory and practice, academia and practitioners. In a way I have been trying to use my blog to this end over the last few months, and I have decided to continue with this aim. The way I see it is if I can grapple with bits of academia relevant to my practice I can then try and translate them to help other practitioners.  After all supporting practitioners is my dayjob and it is the best job in the world!

I won’t always get it right, but even just making the effort can create discussion for praxis. So it has to be worth a try.

So here it is a new years resolution to be the #academicwanker I always swore I wouldn’t be. Or maybe #academicpractitioner is more apt? Sigh. and if you hear me mention a doctorate in education is calling please someone stop me.

References

DARDER, A., and BALTODANO, M. (2009). The critical pedagogy reader. R. D. TORRES (Ed.). New York: Routledge Falmer.

DEPALMA,R. AND TEAGUE,L. (2008) A democratic community of practice: Unpicking all those words. Educational Action Research16(4), 441-456. Available from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09650790802445619#.UoyDocS-2m4 [Accessed 20/11/13]

FREIRE, P. (1972), Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Penguin Books.

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