Humanizing education: teacher leaders influencing pedagogical change

Law, Lindsay
Major Professor
Larry Ebbers
Committee Member
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

A humanizing education relies on the pedagogy of educators to influence, navigate, and coexist within the sociopolitical context and practices of teacher leaders, students, administration, and community members. Constructing beliefs and practices around a humanizing education focuses on the cultural, historical, and contextual realities and experiences of the learner. Previous research has explored pedagogical theory and gained attention around humanizing practices that emphasize the student as a valued asset and active member of the learning process. Opposing pedagogy supports the standardization, mechanization, and one-size-fits-all model that emphasizes quantification, measurement, and high-stakes accountability for teachers and students (Salazar, 2013; Giroux, 2001; Lipman, 2011; McLaren, 2003; Chapman, 2004).

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how teacher leaders influence pedagogical change toward a humanizing education. Learning environment, instructional design, and leadership practices are highlighted in this study as influences on the characteristics of a humanizing education. The study was focused on the humanizing practices and beliefs of teacher leaders through the context of policy, legislation, and educational structures that influenced pedagogical decisions. This study examined the pedagogical beliefs and practices that existed within the organization RunDSM, which the participants had created. Themes for a humanizing education included: a learning environment reflecting liberating conditions that utilize youth voice as power, instructional design that is problem-posing and coconstructed through transformative praxis and arts-based inquiry, and leadership practices reflective of dialogic leadership and community-based actions. Additional findings around common characteristics were supportive of these themes through district leadership and other environmental influences.

Existing literature suggests that a humanizing educational pedagogy supports a transformation within public schooling. The influence of teacher leadership with critical scholarship intersects within the existing societal and philosophical framework of public education in this study. Therefore, ideology, praxis, and counter hegemonic actions are some of the overarching practices highlighted throughout the themes of this study, giving purpose to educators in moving toward a humanizing education.