[Marxism] good essay on education
mtomas3 at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 10 13:46:47 MDT 2011
David P A queried: "I've been googling around this topic a bit, and all I can find is abstract nonsense. (Not saying that's all there is, but that's all I can
find.) Is there any canonical statement of what critical pedagogy is about, what are its empirical claims, on what grounds are they based,
what are the differential outcomes when applied as opposed to other pedagogical theories, etc?"
You've hit the issue on the mark, David. The closest you will come to any empirical evidence for critical pedagogy is the anecdotal evidence of Pablo Freire "Pedagogy of the Oppressed". Most of all the rest of the work on critical pedagogy is logic and philosophy--all good--but very short on empirical evidence. Not to try to create a "magnum opus" on education, suffice to say that much of the work on critical thinking can be attributed not to the demagogues of critical pedagogy, but to decidedly non-marxist educational researchers. This point is not to say that Marxists do not engage in empirical research (I/we do), it just does not come from the "sons and daughters" of P. Freire (of which most if not all the ilk of authors discussed here so far consider themselves disciples). Freire, at least, can be respected because regardless of his meadering style in describing his work, he actually did teach peasants to read and to use their literacy to challenge their oppression. It is not really possible to say the same of his "descendants", except if you count the mounds of verbiage, tenured positions, and significant speaking fees (not to mention laudatory comments on a list mesmerized by their "discourse"). Creating a philosophy of critical pedagogy is, relatively speaking, much easier than it is to construct (sic) and requires taking the kernels of truth from people like Freire and patiently creating programs of research, sometimes distantly far from the "philosophy". As you well have pointed out, most if not all examples of countries that extricated themselves from capitalism have used what you call "traditional" methods, but what I would describe as much more empirical and behavioral ones. There is much to report on this much more valuable work, most of which is dismissed by the imperialist educational establishments as coercive "communism" and by the enlightened "critical pedagogists" as anti-thetical to a constructivist methodology (sic, again). And, much of the "western" educational research on pedagogy and learning is primarily destined for the eyes and ears of the children of the ruling classes, even when some of it deigns to include children of the oppressed (another thread and story all to itself).
Enough, though. I wouldn't want add more "drek" to this discussion.
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