Public Pedagogy Theories, Methodologies, and Ethics
- Michael P. O'Malley, Michael P. O'MalleyTexas State University San Marcos
- Jennifer A. SandlinJennifer A. SandlinArizona State University
- and Jake BurdickJake BurdickPurdue University
Public pedagogy is a theoretical concept focusing on forms, processes, and sites of education and learning occurring beyond formal schooling and practices. Scholars have drawn from the theoretical arenas of cultural studies, critical pedagogy, and artistic/aesthetic approaches to learning in the public sphere. Focusing on both the hegemonic and the resistant aspects of public educational sites, educational scholars employing the term typically explicate its feminist, critical, cultural, performative, and/or activist pedagogical dimensions. Other scholars studying public pedagogy take up the challenge of redefining education in order to deinstitutionalize its conceptualization and uncouple it from its automatic associations with schools; and yet others take these criticisms further to explore posthuman reconceptualizations of pedagogy.
Public pedagogy scholarship between 2011-2019 deploys various imaginings of the nature of the public, bringing divergent yet needed specificity to inquiry. Conceptualizations of public pedagogues and intellectualism in this time period focus less on a heroic figure advocating for marginalized groups and more on educative interruptions of public space, on popular yet disqualified knowledges, and on communal engagement that organizes around shared dissent from marginalization and alliances across difference. Theoretical and methodological investments in the study of public pedagogies have expanded to highlight poststructural and postcolonial radical critiques of the subject and nationalized legacies of colonialism. There is greater attention to the processes of becoming publics, with an emergent turn to decolonial, queer of color, posthumanist, and similar frameworks. Understandings of the pedagogical processes of public pedagogy have emphasized Marxist critical perspectives on ideological transfer; embodied, performative, and aesthetic relational dimensions; and posthumanist efforts to complicate ordained and boundaried familiar narratives, inclusive of viewing the public as a plurality of relations constituted by the human and other than human. Two productive tensions that call for further exploration in public scholarship involve the need to problematize and exceed its colonialist and humanist origins, and amplifying a relationship between scholarship and activism so that public pedagogies outside and inside institutional spaces foster an ethical vocation of the public sphere.