Power, Knowledge, Pedagogy: The Meaning of Democratic Education in Unsettling Times

Power, Knowledge, Pedagogy: The Meaning of Democratic Education in Unsettling Times

Power, Knowledge, Pedagogy: The Meaning of Democratic Education in Unsettling Times

Power, Knowledge, Pedagogy: The Meaning of Democratic Education in Unsettling Times

Synopsis

The essays in this volume explore the educational implications of unsettling shifts in politics, economics, popular culture, & social theory associated with postmodernism. These shifts, the authors suggest, are deeply contradictory & may lead in divergent political directions-some of them quite dangerous.

Excerpt

It is a great honor to welcome two of the most important voices in contemporary progressive education to Westview Press's The Edge book series. Dennis Carlson and Michael W. Apple have profoundly affected all of us over the past two decades, and with the publication of Power/Knowledge/Pedagogy: The Meaning of Democratic Education in Unsettling Times, their influence is extended. As the title implies, this book provides a profound and critical view of progressive educational theory in hard times, in an era emotionally, cognitively, and politically out of sync with questions of justice and equity. The power of self-interested knowledge producers and meaning makers has created a social context where significations have often been reversed: Oppressors become the oppressed, the private space becomes the venue for the public good, and the struggle for democracy becomes the destructive clamoring of special interest groups. Indeed, the times are unsettling.

In this troubled context, Carlson and Apple are concerned with the issues that divide progressive educators at the end of the twentieth century. While critical analysis of scholarly work is necessary to a healthy dialogue and growth in a field, it must work diligently to affirm solidarity around those spaces where agreement is possible. For those of us concerned with questions of justice, democracy, equity, and inclusive community-building in the present zeitgeist, we must construct alliances whenever the opportunity arises. As progressives attack one another, dominant groups have formed new hegemonies by rearticulating old hierarchical concepts in a pseudo-democratic language. A central concern of Carlson and Apple emerges in this context: How do progressive educators use their theoretical savvy to address these disturbing and complex new realities? The various authors of Power/Knowledge/Pedagogy provide us with a variety of discourses that can be deployed in this context.

Many calls for unity among progressives strike us as naive in their underestimation of the complexity of issues that separate us. A simplistic call for unity doesn't understand the feelings of a scholar suppressed by the patriarchal dynamics of critical theory; such a call doesn't appreciate the hurt of a scholar silenced by essentialist demands that only individuals from particular race and gender positionalities speak to particular issues. As Carlson and Apple contend, a central lesson of our encounter with postmodernism . . .

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