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Emancipatory Pedagogy

Charles Chip Mc Neal MEd, PhDc

Education for the mind, body and spirit.

This research inquiry addresses the systemic inequities and systematic injustices in the public educational paradigm that disadvantages students of color and compromises their social and academic achievement. This research explores contemporary educational literature through the theoretical lens of Paolo Freire’s critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogy focuses on cultivating critical consciousness about inequality and actively participating in transformative and inclusive democratic processes to address change. Critical pedagogy purports the notion that individuals can transcend their conditions and transform the world into a better place. A critical pedagogy lens is informed by concepts of identity development, social construction, and global citizenship.

A solution is proposed in the guise of a new transdisciplinary, and emancipatory, conceptual educational framework. Transdisciplinarity promises to expose us to new ways of thinking, aid in accurately framing the question, and reveal aspects of the solution that might otherwise be obscured (Montuori 2013b). This research aims to distinguish a pedagogical approach meant to benefit African-American students and other students of color by increasing attendance, motivation, and self-esteem, resulting in improved academic achievement. This dissertation will yield a series of papers, essays, books, and other texts that explore theoretical components related to the macro-term of emancipatory pedagogy. For this study, the term is codified as a mega-concept inclusive of several social justice principles and pedagogical concepts, including; Culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy, arts education, social-emotional learning, ecological literacy, and multiculturalism.

Keywords: arts, collaboration, communication, creative inquiry, culturally and linguistically responsive, ecological literacy, education, emancipatory, equity, growth mindset, identity, integration, mindfulness, multicultural, multi-literacy, self-awareness, social-emotional, social construction, transdisciplinarity, transformative


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About Charles Chip Mc Neal, PhDc

Chip Image

Charles Chip Mc Neal is an award-winning, international educator, researcher, civic leader & activist who engages in transdisciplinary practice across art forms and genres, focusing on arts, equity, diversity, social justice, and community engagement. The renowned international music conservatory Manhattan School of Music (MSM) recently named Mc Neal to the 2020-2021 inaugural Roster of Artist-Scholars convened to address racial equity in the arts.

As professional practice, Mc Neal guides government agencies, non-profits, and schools on change-management, creative collaboration, program adjudication, equitable arts policies, and organizational cultural competency. Mc Neal has over 30 years of executive leadership experience and flexibly negotiates the intersection between creativity, new technologies, and professional learning. He is competent in multiple culturally responsive practices, including restorative justice techniques, social-emotional learning, and the Teaching Tolerance curriculum (Southern Poverty Law Center). He is an accredited Integrated Learning Specialist and a certified Oral Historian. Mc Neal has lectured on arts, education, social justice, multiculturalism, and professionalism for The Edinburgh International Festival, UC Berkeley, and Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is also a regular Guest Lecturer for Stanford University.

Currently, Mr. Mc Neal is the first-ever Director of Diversity, Equity, and Community for San Francisco Opera, leading strategic organizational change in adaptation to become an anti-racist organization. He leads board development and diversification in addition to devising and implementing company-wide training in anti-bias and culturally informed practices. McNeal advises senior leadership on artistic matters, including equitable hiring, casting, and marketing strategies. He also leads the education division of SF Opera, developing community engagement and school-based programming. He designs and curates accredited professional development training in arts integration focused on culturally responsive pedagogy, social-emotional learning, and creative collaboration for credentialed educators. 

Mr. Mc Neal holds two bachelor’s degrees – in psychology and sociology from Excelsior College and a master’s degree in education (with a concentration in arts integration) from Lesley University. Mr. Mc Neal is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Transformative Studies, exploring educational equity at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. Mc Neal’s research focuses on the intersection of arts, culture, educational equity, and social change, as he formulates solutions to the pressing issues of public education reform and racial equity in the arts.

A New Conceptual Framework

Emancipatory Pedagogy:

The Future of Education

Love as Pedagogy

Several educators researching and writing about culturally responsive pedagogy have focused on a rarely included seminal topic, love (Adams & Bell, 2016; Anthony, 2017; Emdin, 2016; Gay, 2018; Ginwright, 2015; Hammond & Jackson, 2015; hooks, 2014, 2010, 2003, 2001, 1994: Paris & Alim, 2017). The idea of love, respect, and empathy being explicitly included in dialogues about educational reform, and educational equity is relatively new (Ginwright, 2015; Hammond & Jackson, 2015; hooks, 2001, 2003). Love has been left out of the conversation about education for too long (hooks: 2001, 2010). This potent concept contains within it a potential for substantially renegotiating what it means to teach for many educators. bell hooks suggests that by embracing this concept of love as a mechanism for healing is an important one for communities of color, as this has sustained oppressed peoples through the most challenging times (hooks, 2001). Ginwright (2015) declares that loving mindsets, empowering language, restorative justice, and strength-based instruction approaches are critical to establishing the connectivity between teacher and student, and teacher and family. He advises that love offers healing in the relational process and is restorative to each party involved. Ginwright poses a compelling argument for why love matters in education, and how the incorporation of loving values could be healing for both student learners and educators.

From the research, one might surmise that love, empathy, and relationship underscore many of the theories, pedagogy, and methodologies expressed by educational researchers of color. What if love is the missing ingredient in education? These unique perspectives and connections illustrate why diversity matters in scholarship.

Conceptual understandings of love support the framework of an emancipatory pedagogy, as curriculum based on love prioritizes humanity-based teaching practices. Love is the motivator, the lens, and the action. Teaching with love and compassion offers a unique opportunity to humanize education and see beyond test scores and achievement data, according to Hammond and Jackson (2015). When educators teach with compassion, they are able to see urban youth as the vulnerable entities they are – too often confronted with hunger, abuse, neglect, and violence. Love confronts poverty, intolerance, and bullying, which can erode self-esteem (hooks, 2001; 2010; Ginwright, 2015). We must acknowledge that we live in a traumatizing modern world. Recently plagued by a worldwide pandemic in the Coronavirus, and severe racial unrest, students need loving, compassionate teachers now more than ever. Teachers need love too.  A love-based teaching practice may better support teachers and students’ emotions in the classroom.  

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