Teaching through Contradictions

Anti-Colonial Pedagogy and English Language Learning


  • Sara Carpenter University of Alberta
  • Shirin Haghgou Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto


critical adult education, migration, resettlement, settler colonialism, imperialism, anti-colonial, English Language Learning, contradictions


The following paper describes a pilot project in anti-colonial pedagogy for English Language Learning (ELL). This anti-colonial curriculum and pedagogy was developed by drawing from anti-colonial and Marxist theorizations of migration, settler colonialism, and imperialism as well as insights from critical adult education. This paper explores the conceptualization of anti-colonial pedagogy through attention to dialectical social contradictions and attends to how contradictions were used to frame curricular choices and informed classroom practices. The utilization of dialectical contradictions in anti-colonial pedagogy drew attention to the role played by ideologies of liberalism, in particular, in mediating the student learning experience. The implications of ideological mediation in student learning are considered for critical and radical educators.

Author Biographies

Sara Carpenter, University of Alberta

Dr. Sara Carpenter is an Associate Professor in the Adult, Community, & Higher Education program in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. She is co-author, with Shahrzad Mojab, of Revolutionary Learning: Marxism, Feminism, and Knowledge from Pluto Press. Her most recent book is The Ideology of Civic Engagement from SUNY Press.

Shirin Haghgou, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Shirin Haghgou is a PhD candidate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the resettlement processes of young refugees in Ontario, Canada and employs an anti-racist feminist transnational analytical lens to explore the framework of "resiliency" in processes of migration and resettlement of young people. Her work has appeared in a special issue of the Canadian Social Studies and the Journal of Labor and Society.