[Marxism] good essay on education

Manuel Barrera mtomas3 at hotmail.com
Sat Jul 9 22:43:28 MDT 2011

Gary replied: "specifically the role of teachers.  I am wondering Manuel is inclined to a libertarian, deschooling position in some of his thinking."

Thanks, Gary, for trying to redirect what I also believe is a valuable discussion. Just two points for now:1. I use the term post-modernist to describe what folks like Giroux and McLaren (at least as McLaren used to describe) say is a "post-modernist" perspective regarding the "social construction of meaning", which they seem to have to believed was a contrast to "straight up" teaching and imposing thought on learners. This "constructivist" idea had guided quite a bit of the thinking behind the writings of these and other authors of their ilk. These writer seem to believe that learning is simply "constructed" by the learner in some super-agency view that tends to obviate the role of circumstance (i.e., class, race, gender) even though they at the same time speak much about the need to consider these circumstances in attending to the teaching/learning process. If there seem to be contradictions in what I just said, it is because that is what they seem to say, I wouldn't try to explain it further because it defies logic (though these authors are very prone to pretending that they are being logical). "Their" argument to people like me is that somehow my unwillingness to ignore the actual reality of learners' lives as directly affecting how learning takes place is negating the role of "agency"--that defying the "social construction of meaning" as they discuss it means one is simply being "non-liberatory"; yeah, it is nonsense, I know.
2. I am not sure how you would interpret my view of schools and learning to connote a "libertarian, deschooling position" as I really don't understand what you mean by it. When I hear "libertarian deschooling" it sounds like some conservative anti-school, what, home schooling or utopian conception? I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean here. 

What I do believe is (a) that schools should be public, publicly funded, and free through one's advanced university education and (b) that education should be based on curriculum with a clear wide content that allows learners to see for themselves ALL the options of thought and knowledge and that are based on learners' ability to reflect and express themselves upon the world around them. This conception in many ways coincides with Freire's idea about reading and writing "the world", but without the doctrinaireism that has been so rampant in that "discourse". This view obviously needs a conception of teaching that integrates a behavioral and cognitive framework for using the learner and her experiences as the stepping stone toward helping her get beyond those experiences through "meaningful interactions with 'adults'" (which is to say with individuals and circumstances broader and more robust than the learner's own experiences and circumstances). Behaviorisim because one cannot claim that he has taught anything if learning (i.e. a change in behavior) has not occurred. Cognitive because the experiences of learners and their "speech going inward" (thought) are essential substrates to any process for changing behavior. For me, such conceptions of education and teaching/learning can ONLY take place in any substantive way for the working masses of society with the ending of capitalist exploitation and the placing of social institutions, especially schooling, in the hands of the working class for our democratic process in building an equitable society. Again, in my view, I believe working people are not (or at least ultimately will not) be afraid of discussing ALL ideas for the sake of informing everyone in society and educating everyone to the highest degree. There is no need or room to "steer" learners in the "right direction" if a teacher is prepared with the psychological, pedagogical, and material tools that respects the learning process. To do that, schools and their funding must be public and controlled by a government of the working masses (people's, workers and the oppressed, the oppressed and exploited, whichever terms one wishes to use to mean the vast majority of society who produce its wealth). So, if you believe that to be "libertarian" fine. I call it socialism.

More information about the Marxism mailing list