Critical possibilities: decritique, deracination, and the D.I.S.

PhD Thesis

Flores, Becky. 2005. Critical possibilities: decritique, deracination, and the D.I.S. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.

Critical possibilities: decritique, deracination, and the D.I.S.

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorFlores, Becky
SupervisorLee, Chris
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages261

This dissertation presents the theory and practice of Decritique, a critical pedagogy for the first-year college English classroom that offers an alternative to contemporary applications of critical theory. Underscored by a philosophy of language drawn from Husserl's pure phenomenology and Derrida's deconstruction, a key characteristic of the pedagogy is delineation between re-cognition and recognition: the former actively seeking ways to re-position one's own thinking in relation to perceptions of the world; the latter endorsing existing perception. Concepts of 'respect' and 'tolerance' are questioned in Decritique, positing that they can operate as agents of oppression; instead, students engage in critical interaction and animated introspection that, in turn, opens the possibility of change. Concerned with the theory and practice of a reconceptualized critical pedagogy, the question at the core of Decritique is ways for students to reach a point of cognitive struggle leading to genuine discovery without the pain that can accompany criticism and critical self-reflection acting as a barrier to learning. Chapters One through Three examine what constitutes 'the critical'; namely, critical thinking, critical pedagogy, critical literacy, and critical care, Chapter Four discusses a reconceptualization of these criticalities, Chapter Five examines the theory of Decritique, Chapter Six presents a three-semester pilot study comparing Decritique with a pedagogy of 'caring' in both face-to-face and online learning environments, and Chapter Seven provides the study’s conclusions. Results indicate that students taught with Decritique consistently produced more writing than those taught with a 'caring' approach, demonstrated greater evidence of 'critical' reflection on essay revisions, engaged more animatedly in verbal and written discourse, exhibited a strong sense of critical camaraderie, particularly in the face-to-face classroom, and that essays averaged nearly five percent, or half a letter grade, higher. Retention and pass rates were higher in the Decritique classes and students were more likely to be satisfied with their learning experience. Implementation of the pedagogy on a wider, cross-institutional level is recommended in order to investigate the potential of Decritique as an alternative critical pedagogy for the first-year college English classroom, one that promotes reflective critical analysis of discourse with a commitment to the possibilities of praxis.

Keywordsdecritique, pedagogy, egocentric, detached intellectualized space (DIS), deracination
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020369999. Other creative arts and writing not elsewhere classified
390104. English and literacy curriculum and pedagogy (excl. LOTE, ESL and TESOL)
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