Academic journal article Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue

EDUCATIONAL MONTAGE: Constructing and Editing Exploratory Learning

Academic journal article Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue

EDUCATIONAL MONTAGE: Constructing and Editing Exploratory Learning

Article excerpt

Now when I had mastered the language of this water and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river... I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too. I had lost something which could never be restored to me while I lived. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry, had gone out of the majestic river!                       Mark Twain, "Two Views of the Mississippi" (1883) 


For far too long teacher education programs have traveled the alluring path toward overprofessionalization, carting along a belief that the label of professionalism would not only elevate teaching and teacher education in the eyes of the public but would also inoculate the field from oft-heard accusation of large-scale educational failure in the United States. Yet, this belief has weighed down teacher education programs and has contributed to an overly clinical approach denies, in some instances, the Deweyan call for education as the primary and fundamental method of social reform (Dewey, 1897). As educators, we hear and live Dewey's charge. We understand that education is political. We believe that education can be transformative. And, we live with an alarming awareness that education is at a precarious point!

Public education is at a precarious point. Assaulted on all fronts by forces that seek to twist learning and educational processes to their own aims, education and teacher education programs continue to cling to life while perched on a wobbly fence that has the choking vines of an ascendant neoliberal regime climbing ever-so quickly. High atop this fence and seemingly isolated, public education has few, if any, proponents who possess the political, social, or economic capital to ensure survival; educators can easily see the forces of their demise gathering in the not-so-distant distance. Indeed, public education is at a precarious point!

The notion of precarity is not new, having found its origins in European political struggles in the 1970s (Barchiesi, 2012; Schram, 2013). Yet, whether associated with 1970s European uprisings over capital flight or with the more recent Occupy movement (Schram, 2013), the essence of precarity remains the same. That is to say that precarity underscores the vulnerability of those who lack the political, economic, and social capital required to play a dominant role in their own self-determination. The resultant near-constant level of ambient insecurity is a constructed political condition "in which certain populations suffer from failing social and economic networks" (Butler, 2009) that inherently benefit those in power while ensuring docility among those who are not.

The pervasive insecurity in which the precariat exists is enabled by the neoliberal hegemony's ability to control narratives and to organize social and cultural phenomena in ways which render resistance to the neoliberal crusade, for example, privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, and free trade, not only ineffective but also counterintuitive. Indeed, anyone who denies the benefits of efficient and market-based processes cannot, by neoliberal definition, be considered a rational actor and is therefore not only excluded from decision making process, but is also saddled with the label deficient neoliberal subject (Schram, 2013). The resultant enclosing of the political and economic imaginary serves, as Foucault anticipated, to silence and discipline anyone who contests the legitimacy of neoliberal policies.

Neoliberal policies, however, do not function simply at the level of the individual. To a large extent, the ongoing success of the neoliberal regime can be found in its ability to infect all manner of social and economic institutions. As such, the emergence of neoliberal policies, which see the public good as only those expenditures vetted by competitive free-market forces, can be extended to the act of education. …

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