We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why Teaching People to Think for Themselves Is Repugnant to Religious Zealots and Rick Santorum

Click here to access article by Henry A. Giroux from Truthout. 
Santorum and many of his allies dislike any public institution that enables people to think critically and act with a degree of responsibility toward the public. This is one reason why they hate any notion of public education, which harbors the promise, if not the threat, of actually educating students to be thoughtful, self-reflective and capable of questioning so-called common sense and holding power accountable.
Like Chris Hedges this writer can be so eloquent about the subject he knows best--education. When reading articles by either of them, I find myself applauding everything they write. However, after I'm through, I'm left with the feeling that they, like most liberals, don't really see the issues as being constrained within a governing social system that imposes a class structure on society. In other words, one cannot look at serious social-economic issues without considering the nature of the social-economic system in which they occur. 

In this piece Giroux seems to be taking aim only at fundamentalists such as Santorum. If it weren't for them, we could have what he refers to as "critical pedagogy". This is complete nonsense. I love what he writes about what a critical pedagogy should look like, but this is not possible in any class structured society. It is paragraphs like this that gives his limited view away:
Critical pedagogy, that arch enemy of fundamentalists everywhere, must be understood as central to any discourse about educating students to be informed, skilled and knowledgeable critical agents, but, more importantly, it must be understood as the most crucial referent we have for understanding politics and defending all aspects of public schooling as one of the very few remaining democratic public spheres remaining in the United States today.
Education has always served the elites in class structured societies. Nowadays, employers are able to produce profits with far fewer workers due to advances in technology. And because capitalism is all about producing monetary wealth for "owners", they are uninterested in any project that promotes non-profitmaking activities which would make all lives more meaningful and healthy. 

Moreover, this advanced stage of capitalism is approaching ecological and energy limits that make continued growth impossible without destroying the planet for human habitation. Hence, the governing class sees the necessity of dumbing down education in order to more easily pacify a large segment of the population to adapt to a lower standard of living. This is precisely why the ruling class of the One Percent have been so supportive of the Transition Towns movement which seeks only to adapt to more independent but subsistence modes of lifestyles.