Storming the citadel: reading theory critically. Brookfield, S.D.

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Brookfield, S.D. (1995). Storming the citadel: reading theory critically.  In Becoming a critically reflective teacher. Jossey-Bass Inc. (pp. 185-206).

An Annotation by Laurie Walsh

The title hooked me, the ideas made me think, the article applies to my professional reading for my action research and the M.Ed. program, and the article offers perspectives for me to consider when writing my own papers.  The author begins by stating the supposed divide between theorists and practitioners does not exist – we’re all both.  He provides a convincing case for why teachers should read theory: it helps us name our practice; it helps us break out of our cultural, historical and contextual generalizations; it can provide alternative viewpoints in the absence of colleagues; it forces homogeneous group think to the wayside; it places our practice in a social context.  The author encourages the reader to look at theoretical writing through four questioning strategies: epistemological (Is the writing skewed by the writer’s paradigm? What evidence does the writer use? Is the writing culturally skewed? Does it fuse descriptive and prescriptive writing?), experiential (Is it relevant to your experiences as a teacher?  Does it address ethical issues?), communicative (What is the voice of the writing?  Does it use specialized language in a justifiable manner?  What do the metaphors and analogies show about the writer?), political (Whose interests are served? Does it  offer a one-method-works-for-all- ideology? Are the images of teaching individualistic or collectivist?  Does it make us reflect on democratic forms and processes?).  I like this article because it challenges me to be a more critical thinker.  Imagine if I can help my students look at my classroom environment, the content, and our responses to literature and each other through these various lenses.  Powerful!

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