Teaching Pedagogy What is Pedagogy

What is Pedagogy

Category : Teaching


What Is Pedagogy



  • Understand the concept of pedagogy with respect to various thinkers
  • Engage with issues, challenges, and concerns about pedagogy and pedagogical processes
  • Visualise the role of teachers with respect to pedagogy
  • Understand the pedagogic beliefs of various schools of thoughts
  • Develop critical perspective about participatory approach to pedagogy
  • Explore the comprehensive environment for comprehensive pedagogy



Pedagogy, methodology, and teaching strategies are used interchangeably; however, there is huge difference between these terms and using them interchangeably will ruin the actual meaning of pedagogy. Actually, pedagogy is a larger concept, and it is not possible to just study it in a classroom context. In its wider sense, it is a process of explaining, elaborating, and engaging with any phenomena. Therefore, it becomes comprehensive method rather than simple methods and strategies. In other words, it can also be said that methods and techniques can be part of pedagogy. In a classroom context, pedagogy deals with many things together, which includes learner, learning, knowledge, textbooks, methods, techniques, discussion happening in class, classroom environment, and so on.

Pedagogy in its actual sense can be understood as a practice with praxis along with theoretical construct. It deals with the concern of how to teach or provide opportunities to learner to learn reflectively, which provide enough opportunities to understand, and analyse the social life and social events. Pedagogy provides a comprehensive outlook towards life and associated concerns. Paulo Freire can be taken as an example where he talked about his way of teaching 'critical pedagogy.' It provides a wider, critical, and reflective process to challenge the oppression of the suppressed. It liberates learner from slavery mindset, and provides knowledge and consciousness. Critical pedagogy managed to do this because it incorporates the background of the learners,

their contextual issues, their experiences, and so on. Therefore, pedagogy is an outlook and way to perceive, learn, establish, and use of knowledge to become liberate.

Therefore, we have to understand it very clearly that pedagogy is not only teaching in a class or transacting content to the learners but also associated with thinking and practicing it. Teaching is a very specific task, whereas pedagogy has to deal with larger concerns.                       

In recent past, numerous works have been done on pedagogy with respect to various disciplines including sciences, social sciences, and languages. These works provide a comprehensive understanding about pedagogy not only on particular subject but also in general. 'Critical pedagogy,' 'Social pedagogy', and 'Folk pedagogy' can be taken as examples.

Before we move ahead to understand the pedagogy and pedagogy in detail, we should understand the very meaning of education so that we can make better sense of pedagogy and pedagogical processes.



Although it is very difficult to summarise the meaning and nature of education in few worlds, some understanding about what education is all about is essential. Therefore, we will try to discuss about education rather than presenting any definition. It is a fact that we generally replace education with schooling, which limits the meaning of education in a well-surrounded concept: however, it actually does not help to understand the meaning of education. What is taught by teacher is not education, rather what one construct out of that would be education. Education is not something that can be given. This can be proved with a very simple example: let us imagine that we are teaching in a class and talking to everyone equally, but can we make sure that every student will learn the same thing from our teaching. Precisely not; this is because what you talk is information/or them and what they will construct out from that information will be their knowledge.

Freire also criticised the banking concept of education and he discusses about education that liberates. Education provides criticality, reflectivity, and consciousness and this results in a selfaware and educative person. Education cannot be understood as money that can be given to anyone, rather it has been constructed with one's efforts. Education can be understood in terms of bringing out your abilities, and therefore, along with individualised process, it is a social process too. Dewey called education as a process of living rather than a preparation for future. Pestalozzi talked about the development of hand, head, and heart is education, and Gandhi favoured the development of heart, mind, and soul together is education.

Therefore, we can say that education is not only about knowing or gathering information but also developing knowledge; using this knowledge, we make life better, humane, and peaceful.



It is important to understand that the teacher's role in education and pedagogical processes had been changing. It has moved from 'giver' to 'facilitator'. This shift that is presented here is explained in a simple manner; however, it is not that simple. It carries a full historical legacy with it. However, we are not discussing it here in extensive details. Still, we must know that assumption about learner, learning, and knowledge has changed over a period of time, and therefore, the role of teacher has also changed. Further, now, we do not perceive learner in a passive role, rather accept their agency in learning process. Similarly, the idea of learning has also changed and it has moved from 'given' to one's 'own construction.' Along with this, the meaning of knowledge has also moved from universal facts to contextual realities. These shifts have also changed the role of teachers from who knows everything and fills knowledge into empty pictures to a facilitator of learners who are in the process of constructing their own meanings and knowledge. Teachers have to develop trustworthy relationship with learners where learners may discuss all their issues, concerns, and challenges without any kind of hesitation. Environment that provides space to learn is very important for learners. Their agency as a student must be accepted and respected by the teacher.

Table 1.1 beautifully explains the various schools of thought and their understanding of pedagogy along with suitable examples.


Table 1.1 Pedagogy understanding by various schools of thought


School of Thought

Pedagogic understanding



Teacher centric, learner at receiv- ing end, explicitly visible outcome of learning

Lecturing, common way of teaching, mastery over skill


Child centric, learner as active con- structor of knowledge, teacher as facilitator

Project work, individual teaching pro- cesses, focus on adaptation rather than on recalling

Social constructivism

Child centric, learning as social pro- cess, knowledge is socially embedded

Collaborative learning, learning as com- munity practice, reciprocal teaching- learning process

Critical theory

Learner a reflective human being, knowledge is contextual and carries a hidden agenda, engagement in social life with critical view

Evaluating, exploring, elaborating, criti- cally reviewing, focusing on both theory and its implication (praxis)



There are many theorists who have worked extensively about pedagogy. Here, we are not talking about pedagogy in class, rather pedagogy as a concept in broader sense. However, we would like to talk about three major contributions in this field named Paulo Freire, Bernstein, and Bruner. Freire's book Pedagogy of the Oppressed is classic in this regard and it soon became the reference material for almost all educationists. Freire was more interested in questioning the suppression, and therefore, he discussed about critical pedagogy to make people liberate. Bernstein elaborates about the class and culture and their role in people's life; further, he explained how few people rule over other's life and control them. Finally, Bruner is associated with folk pedagogy, who argues about the role of socio-culture context in learning process. He floated the idea of 'socially embeddedness', 'contextual knowledge,' and soon.

Pedagogy cannot be understood only in terms of teaching practice in a class. Moreover, it is an experience all together, where it is an art, science, and craft also. Therefore, it is very clear that pedagogy is not an instrumental process, rather it is a constructive process that incorporates 'be with learner', 'provide caring', and 'associative learning and education with lives.' In this context, to be with learner means to hold their hand whenever they need support in their development process. They should feel comfortable about the availability of someone in needful situations. This availability of teacher will develop trust, faith, and commitment in learners. Similarly, caring means that teacher should have caring nature towards learners. Teacher should be there when learner needs care and support in learning process. The sense of caring cannot be given or developed in one day, rather it takes enough time to develop such concerns. Finally, associative learning or education in daily life means to make linkage between school education and daily life. It is important that what we learn should be utilised in life. Although, we would like to assert here that utility does not only mean the way it has been perceived by pragmatic school but also it has more comprehensive meaning all together.

It is to be understood that a good teaching does not provide or deal with techniques for learning, rather it provides space and opportunities to engage with the discourse, which takes them to the search for identity, harmony, and integrity. Therefore, fixed methodological process and techniques will not help learner to be developed at their best.

Still there are three basic questions which we would like to highlight here: is pedagogy age specific?, can pedagogy be seen outside the school?, and is pedagogy an art, science, or craft? Yes, as far as school teaching is concerned, pedagogy is age specific. It is because learners understand the world through the lenses of their own experiences, and as they grow older, their experiences also get widen. Therefore, pedagogy needs to be changed as per age or developmental level of learner. What are their abilities, capabilities, and so on? However, the second question says that can pedagogy be seen outside the school and it has more elaborate answer. Of course, as discussed earlier in the chapter, pedagogy has to be seen in a wider context. Here, it means the way pedagogy has been understood by Freire, Bornstein, and Bruner. It is a way of understanding and acting in actual life, and it may be understood with respect to education, politics, and our daily life. Finally, third question needs to be discussed separately. Those who believe pedagogy as science says it is an organised way of helping others to understand certain things. This entire idea moves around technical rationality and objective rationality, which takes it epistemology base or stance from scientific approach or method. However, the ideas of pedagogy as art or craft move around the social science paradigm. When we say social science paradigm, we mean its subjective nature, which actually understands pedagogy as a reflective and subjective process. The work of Donald Schon's can be referred here as a master piece. It perceives pedagogy as a tool that helped in day-to-day life, which helps a person to decide or chose the life they want to live. In all, we have to see pedagogy in a comprehensive way that is not restricted to teaching-learning process. Teaching may be one of the important aspects of pedagogy but not synonym of pedagogy; however, it can be said that teaching is a necessary condition of pedagogy but not sufficient condition.



To understand the meaning of pedagogy, we may ask few questions to a teacher: what they think about themselves as a teacher? What and how they understand about education? What is their view about learner, learning, knowledge, and society? What role they see of learner in education and learning process? What kind of citizens they want to produce for the future? Where they want to see our future society? Understanding these questions and their answers will facilitate our thinking about pedagogy. Generally, pedagogy is misunderstood with teaching, which actually restricts its scope to few methods and techniques of teaching. However, abovementioned questions indicated that the notion and concept of pedagogy is far deeper than teaching, which

moves from an individual student to the development of society.

The question is what is the quality of a teacher or who is a good teacher or which is important for a teacher: teacher with good subject knowledge or good pedagogical understanding? Surely, content is important but pedagogical strength is an essential quality of a good teacher. However, what pedagogy is all about has been understood differently by different people. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and policy makers have taken pedagogy in different ways.

As we know science has dominated social science for good number of years with the name and for the sake of 'scientific methods', where everything was looked and studied around this method. This approach need to be criticised and discredited. It imposes positivism on social science, and therefore, on pedagogy also. The positivism is largely associated with reductionist, deterministic, and independent, which failed to explain pedagogy comprehensively. Therefore, interactionist and interpretive perspective came up with good strength that deals with socially constructed, creative, and liberal perspective that provides a better understanding to pedagogy. Further, Watkins and Mortimore (1999) discussed about pedagogy as 'craft', which was discussed earlier. However, this idea was also not able to sustain longer as it failed to incorporate the critical reflective perspective during pedagogic processes along with the very nature of learner, learning, knowledge, and society.

A different perspective was shared by Beetham (2007) regarding pedagogy. He argued pedagogy as a process of facilitating and guiding learning process and try to establish a close relationship between teaching and learning including learner and knowledge, where one person consciously facilitates the learning of another one. Furthermore, Moon (2009) explains pedagogy as a multidimensional process that includes theoretical understanding, belief system, and so on; however, it actually executed with respect to learners in actual live situations. In this sense, they make sense of pedagogy with respect to theory, its understanding, and its applicability in daily life.

From this point, the whole idea of pedagogy moves beyond the classroom; further, it is discussed with respect to socio-political and economic lives that will make a learner to know the importance of their contribution to the development of democratic, humane society. For this,

Figure 1.1


pedagogy gets associated with policy, politics, culture, and rationality to explain itself as a social process, which is deviated from the dominated positivism.

Learner has a very special place in entire pedagogical process where he/she has to see and evaluate his/her position with respect to policy and power relation. The knowledge given or presented to them influenced the way they will understand the social and political life. Therefore, it becomes important to develop abilities in learners to become evaluative and critical as they haveno control over the knowledge decided for them. Whose knowledge and who decides and how it is decided are the questions that need to be analysed by learners. These abilities will be developedin an democratic school setup where respect, rights, responsibility, humanity, collaboration, and so on are integral part of the school system; hence, largely it can become social system with the help of the learners who will get education from such school systems. Further, such society will strengthen democracy; it not only strengthens political democracy but also economic democracy (Bowles and Gintis).

Here, we reject the idea of mechanistic and universal way of explaining pedagogy; rather, we favour the idea of multiple perspectives, which is very much contextual. We do not consider pedagogy as simply balancing the view of learners, rather it is providing challenge to the existing scenario; this very idea also questions the concept and process of equilibration given by Piaget, where a child try to do equilibration in the situation of dis-equilibration. Pedagogy provides criticality than simple adaptation in a democratic society. It also provides ample opportunities to learners to use their agency in school as an active participant in learning process to develop critical thinking and make citizen aware about liberal democracy. Pedagogy does not satisfy the curiosity of learners, rather it motivates to raise questions. It helps to raise doubts and promote the process of being to becoming. However, all this is possible with a participatory approach. Next section will deal with the understanding of participatory approach of pedagogy.



It is an approach that can be understood with respect to inclusive perspective. This approach is in favour with the idea of social justice where all are respected and given opportunities to grow. It deals with the idea of collaborative task where teachers and learners work together to set and achieve the goals. These goals are set to deal real-life complexities, so that a better life orientation can be given to learners. It believes in various ways to achieve a goal but the ways must be based on social justice and equality. Another aspect that is important to highlight here is that this approach tries to make sense of teaching, learning, and knowledge in a wholesome perspective and it does not see them in isolated manner. Therefore, participatory perspective does not deal only teaching and learning processes but also it engages with the knowledge development process; further, it is also used in social life to deal various kinds of problems, issues, and challenges. It works with two folds of objective: for dealing with immediate support, help, or scaffolding and for dealing with future concerns.

Participatory pedagogy uses education for all approach; that is, education for disabled and non-disabled learners. In this pedagogy, everybody is treated at par but with special needs. Therefore, it does not favour the idea of individualised process of education; rather, it favours inclusive process of education. It does not argue for the success of the school, rather it talks about the appropriate environment in schools that can facilitate the learning.

Ever changing nature of education and influence and role of political and economic powers in education create a very uncertain environment for teachers and learners; this is what we call knowledge keeps changing as per the power struggles. Participatory pedagogy tries to deal with all such issues to some extent. Largely, participatory pedagogy constituted with various concepts or ideas or aspects such as inclusive understanding, individualised process of learning and instruction, and diversity.

Inclusive understanding is one of the important requirements for participatory pedagogy. Inclusion is a term, which is very complex and unclear to many of us. However, it is sure that it is not only for children with special needs but also deals with larger perspectives. Inclusive teacher needs to know about him/herself with respect to others so that a comprehensive environment can be created in a class to provide better opportunities for learning. Inclusion rejects the idea of any kinds of differences in school and tries to make sense of these differences with respect to social and economic capital, equality, justice, and community acceptance. Wider differences will increase the differences in the school, and in future, this difference will develop a sense of 'I' and

'others.' To avoid all such situations, a positive mindset needs to be developed. This positive mindset will help learners to understand themselves with respect to prevailed social scenario. For this, a healthy community of practice needs to be developed where learner will actively engage with the concerned issues and aspects. They will be able to talk and analyse about dominant ideologies and will make sense of themselves. Further, they will also be able to develop their self-belief system rather than an imposed system. This ability of creativity will make them actually sensitive and reflective human beings, who will largely contribute towards creating better citizens for the world.

Individualised process of learning and instruction is another important aspect of participatory pedagogy. Today, we all are aware of the fact that everybody perceives the world from their own lenses that are acquired through their life experiences. Therefore, it is important to know how children learn and how they understand the given or available situation. The process of understanding and learning is very much individualised; however, society and our environment influence our individuality. The kinds of book we read, the kind of media we are exposed, the kinds of choices available to one, and so on are important contributing factors in our understanding; it is not only about ourselves but also about others. These sources provide information and we construct our own meaning based on those information. However, reality is not so simple; this construction is highly governed from the exposure we have gone through. Further, most importantly, we have no choice, which is based on free will; rather, we have to choose from the available choices. In such a complex scenario, how one can claim to be independent and exercise their free will. Participatory pedagogy will provide spaces for a person who will not only choose from the available options but also develop options to choose. For this, an individualised but collaborative learning process is needed.

Diversity is also a very significant dimension of participatory pedagogy. First, the idea of diversity may look in contrast with individualised process; however, actually it is not. Furthermore, it is an approach to deal with individualised process and individualised process helps to understand and deal with diversity. Therefore, there is no necessary contract between these two terms. It is a fact that our society is with numerous diversities, and therefore, our classes will also be with full of diversities. Participatory pedagogy views diversity as an opportunity than problem, but converting this diversity into opportunity is a challenge for which teachers need to be prepared. This will not end with teacher's preparation but the mindset of society also needs to be inclusive. We will not recommend that they need to change; however, there is a need to understand others' perspective and how others perceive a thing wrong, which we might think that it is absolutely correct. This can happen only when we become sensitive towards diversity. Further, this will include various dimensions simultaneously; these dimensions include students, flexibility, knowledge about subjects, evaluation and classroom context, and environment.


Use of Participatory Pedagogy

It is not only enough to simply talk about criticality or critical thinking about pedagogy but also it is necessary to implement and see the use of this pedagogic perspective. It is also important to understand the participatory pedagogy emerged from constructivist and situated cognition approaches, where communities of practices are favoured. The application part of this pedagogy may be understood with reference to Personal Learning Styles Pedagogy (PLSP). The PLSP incorporates the understanding of individual needs and learning processes. It not only discussed about the baseline pedagogic processes but also talked about learner's choice, centric role of learner, respecting initiating point of learner, providing space for meta-cognitive thinking processes, importance of facilitation and support, incorporating contextualised engagement, and so on. 

The personal learning style pedagogy works around many dimensions. First, one has to understand and explore the learners' knowledge, beliefs, and understanding for providing appropriate support and facilitation. Here, it also becomes important to explore the learning histories of a learner so that a holistic understanding can be developed about the learners' experiences, which will help to develop a need-based environment for better learning. Second, one has to be careful for choosing learning style for learners. This style cannot be selected arbitrarily, rather a thoughtful engagement is required for this purpose. Obviously, the first point will facilitate in selecting the style. An integrated perspective will facilitate learning, where integration is needed between the learners' past experiences, which cause for their belief system and the style that the learner tends to be engaged with. This integration will surely develop the comprehensive perspective for learning. This integration will also happen between cognition and socio-cultural context of learners. Third, one needs to be aware not only about learners' context, but also their sensitivities. This sensitivity will develop a sense of belongingness with learners and their associated issues and concerns. It also incorporates the emotional needs of the learners, develops positive environment, and respects new beginning of learners with full emotional support along with their social context. Fourth, one has to develop an optimistic learning environment, where many things will have to be taken care; for example organising learning resources and integrated teaching processes which incorporate cognition, attitude, and social context, helping learner to engage in positive, critical, reflective thinking processes, and so on. This environment must provide space for engagement, elaboration, exploration, and construction. Largely learning environment must include criticality, authenticity, reflectivity, analytical, meta-cognitive process, and so on. Fifth, one has to respect and accept learners' agency in class, where learners have space not only for choosing from available options but also developing options of their choice. Learner's voice and existence should be not only acknowledged but also accepted. Such learner's agency will automatically develop a sense of commitment towards learning. They will take ownership of their learning. To provide such space, process has to be flexible in nature, where enough space is available for accommodating various ideas proposed by learners, whether it is collaborative process or individualised process.

Disused ideas, which were explained earlier, provide reasonable opportunities for individual learning processes based on learner's personal style. Vygotsky's concepts such as assisted learning, scaffolding, and mediation are seen as very crucial and significant aspects in guiding the learning processes; in these processes learners work both independently and they work based on their needs, and therefore, appropriate help is provided to facilitate their zone of proximal development. Teachers have to understand that the development of selfregulation capability is the necessary condition for facilitating self-governed learning processes. This regulatory capability will develop gradually and will take time to reach the level of maturity. Here, maturity deals with cognitive, affective, and emotional aspects of an individual. In other words, self-regulation is associated with cognitive process, meta-cognitive process, and emotional process. The cognitive process involves in developing memorisation, analytical, decisive skills, while metacognitive process involves in developing coordinating, developmental, adjustment, and critical reflection skills; finally, emotional processes helps in developing motivational, execution, characteristics, and emotional skills.



On the basis of aforementioned discussion, it is difficult to list out few points about what is pedagogy; this is because it provides a comprehensive perspective about pedagogical process that is different from students' engagement approaches to pedagogy, where it is considered as an approach to control the system. As far as the reader of this chapter is concerned, we can talk about few points in little detail to give a comprehensive perspective. Table 1.2 provides a good understanding about the required environment.



Table 1.2 Features of required environment



Supportive, collaborative, and productive environment 

There is a need to develop healthy teacher-student relationship, where eve ryone  will respect and value other's knowledge, ideas, and perspectives. This must involve collaborative task to produce productive outcomes.


Respecting diversity

It is necessary to boost learner's self-concept by providing space to develop their self-esteem. This can be ensured when each learner will enjoy some kinds of achievement. Therefore, setting common goals for all would not be in favour of learners.


Freedom, interrelatedness, and self-motivation

A kind of freedom or independence is advocated here, where learner learns to take responsibility of other learning This freedom will be actualized  with respect to interdependency of learners among themselves and with teachers. Further, such environment will surely develop the learner to control over motivation, where they will be able to know where, how, and for what to be motivated.


Respecting learners' socio-cultural context, needs, understanding, and perspectives

Social constructivism surely a good approach to learning, if understood



And applied correctly. Therefore, one has to understand the role of learners' socio-cultural background, their needs, and their perspectives towards various concepts in teaching-learning process. For this, a flexible pedagogic process is needed so that each one gets his/her space in learning engagement. Variety of strategies may also be used to provide the individual diversity with inclusive perspective.   


Promoting critical thinking,          cognitive ability, and application

There will be a great need to develop connection between various concepts, ideas, and so on for better learning engagement. Cognitive skills can be developed by providing challenges to the existing knowledge. Environment that provides space for the applicability of learned knowledge is appreciated.


Evaluation as a part  of teaching-learning processes

It is important to understand evaluation as an inherent part of teaching learning process. We consider learning as ongoing process, and therefore, assessment is also an ongoing process, which incorporates reflective and analytical tasks. Such evaluation will have larger agenda than only assess ing what learners know. It will develop platform about the future course of action for learners as well as teachers.     


Beyond classroom

Education can be understood as restricted process that takes place only in classroom; rather, it is a comprehensive process that not only incorporates content from society but also pedagogic process. Learning will take place in communities of practice.



In conclusion, it can be said that the pedagogy has been used diversely in different fields. Policy makers, teachers, and lawyers have used pedagogy in different ways. They all use it according to their purposes. However, still defining pedagogy is a tough task. It is a complex concept to understand and to explain. We cannot simply restrict pedagogy with teaching-learning process as it incorporates various other dimensions such as educational theories, policies, personal learning style, and larger social context. Therefore, it is very difficult to say that pedagogy can be understood as teaching-learning process. Pedagogy has to be understood as linkages between theory and practice. It can be seen as process of facilitating the engagement of learners to explore, elaborate, and explain the concept with the understanding that these concepts are not restricted to the textbook, rather they have their implications for larger society. Bernstein said 'pedagogy is a sustained process whereby somebody(s) acquires new forms or develops existing forms of conduct, knowledge, practice and criteria from somebody(s) or something deemed to be an appropriate provider and evaluator' (Bernstein, 2000). His idea revolves around two models: performance model and competence model. Performance model discusses about the direct relationship with students' learning such as what to do and how to do, whereas competence model can be understood as indirect relationship with learners. It is a salient way of dealing with learners, for example, their individual needs. Therefore, pedagogy has been seen as both action and discourse, which includes teachers' beliefs, knowledge, perspectives, and attitude about learner, learning, curriculum, and knowledge.


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