Principal mandating after school meetings

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Dependence on government-sponsored funding may force some programs, for example, to use a specific curriculum or assessment tool.

Teachers in the program may have to use that curriculum but may also attempt to make their instruction more reflective of critical pedagogy.

Critical theorists believe that adult literacy programs should not be confined to teaching specific literacy skills but rather should contextualize instruction within a framework of social activism and societal transformation.

Critical adult literacy programs should be designed around the backgrounds, needs, and interests of students and should encourage a "dialogic" (as defined by Freire, 1993) relationship between teachers and students.1 More important, programs should establish a democratic setting where students are able to use their developing literacy skills to analyze critically their place in society, understand how certain cultural assumptions and biases have put them and their families at risk, and ultimately learn how to challenge the status quo.

As Freire (1998) himself argues, critical educational practice is not a specific methodology to be applied blindly but rather one that emerges when teachers can practice teaching from a critical perspective and have the time to reflect on their pedagogy.

I believe this is a more constructive way of mending the division between critical and noncritical pedagogy in adult education; programs may have little incentive to change if they believe they must change everything at once.

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Adult literacy programs that make an effort to reflect a critical pedagogy try to help students understand what forces have contributed to their positions in society and to see how literacy can help them influence these forces and transform their lives.In addition, some programs may be noncritical but may also have the potential to evolve-that is, they may be making program changes that reflect a shift toward critical pedagogy.Rather than labeling programs as either critical or noncritical, it may be more useful and beneficial to the field to think about adult education programs as falling somewhere on a continuum between noncritical and critical.Critical theorists (Bartolomé, 1996; Freire & Macedo, 1987; Lankshear & Mc Laren, 1993; Shor, 1992) have criticized many adult education programs for applying a "one model fits all" approach-with a preset structure and curriculum that rarely take into account the specific background and needs of the individuals involved.These noncritical programs place a primacy on skills acquisition, reflecting some educators' belief that literacy and other academic skills alone will help to rectify the marginalized positions of the students who are enrolled.

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