Reality Pedagogy

Teaching is about more than just having a bunch of information to disseminate to the empty vessels- students- in front of you.
The concept behind reality pedagogy is that before teachers can teach anything, they must understand the realities of their students.

reality pedagogy

Reality Pedagogy is an approach to teaching and learning that focuses on teachers gaining an understanding of student realities, and then using this information as the starting point for instruction. It begins with the fundamental premise that students are the experts on how to teach, and students are the experts on content. Reality pedagogy teachers believe that, for teaching and learning to happen, there has to be an exchange of expertise between students and teacher. For this exchange to happen, teachers can use a set of tools called the ‘5 C’s’ to gain insight into student realities, and allow students to express their true selves in the classroom. These tools are:

– cogenerative dialogues;
– co-teaching;
– cosmopolitanism;
– context;
– content.

cogenerative dialogues

Where teachers and students discuss the classroom and both suggest ways to improve it. Meaning that the discussion isn’t led by a particular individual; instead, all participants have equal opportunity to talk, and no one voice is valued over another. These dialogues are modeled after “cyphers” (informal gatherings of rappers and beatboxers) that allow individuals to both demonstrate their skill and co-create. Cyphers are central to freestyle battles, in which a group of rappers stand in a circle and take turns laying down rhymes, trying to outdo one another.

Of course, in educational cyphers no one is trying to win. It’s more of a win-win sort of thing. The purpose is to meet with a small group of students outside of class and invite their input and critiques of the way things are going in the classroom. What is working, what makes them roll their eyes and what would help them to get more out of their study time.
Through these dialogues, the teacher can learn about the students’ needs while also giving them a voice in their education. When their critiques of classroom structures and strategies are heard and valued, the students become active participants in their learning. A way to go, I would say.


Where students get opportunities to learn content and then teach the class. Coteaching is about involving students not just in the critiquing of instruction methods, but also in the actual teaching. After all, how much better do you understand a concept after you’ve prepared to teach it to someone else?
This strategy accomplishes a few things. First, it gives students a chance to take charge of class content. Second, it lets them know that you understand they can be experts in determining the best ways for content to be delivered to them. And third, it gives them an opportunity to experience the challenges of teaching.



Where students have a role in how the class operates and in what is taught. Simply put, the goal is to create a culture of student investment in the classroom and to give students roles that ‘ensure that students develop a connection to the classroom and a desire to learn within it’. Cosmopolitanism in the pedagogy sense is about creating a classroom environment that incorporates norms, behaviors, and roles that exist in students’ lives outside the classroom. I want to ensure that the same level of interconnectedness and responsibility for one another will be shown inside the classroom. You really have to work hard for it.


Where the community of the university is seen as part of the classroom. The classroom shouldn’t be a separate and sanitized environment. The premise of context is that teachers must understand the backgrounds of their students in order to better understand how to engage with them. Also co-creating with organisations makes learning more real and meaningful.


Where the teacher has to acknowledge the limitations of his content knowledge and work to build his content expertise with students. Teachers can have the most profoundest grasp of content in the world, but it won’t make a lick of difference if they don’t have the ability to disseminate that information. Content is important if you have your other C’s in order.

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