Pedagogy as Political Practice
This chapter is about desire, perhaps yours, most certainly mine. It is about the desire to awake or incite a particular passion in those with whom we teach, 1 a passion that invests with a particular urgency, the challenge to taken-for-granted social truths and the struggle for a more just and compassionate moral order capable of sustaining the diversity of life which inhabits our planet. Furthermore, it is about the problems of not only mobilizing this desire but as well, developing the knowledge needed to direct and sustain it. Thus it is a chapter about the practical, political action called pedagogy. More specifically, it is about a particular school-based version of such pedagogical work. What I am about to do is raise several interconnected themes that, in my view, seem fundamental for thinking through what it might mean to construct a pedagogy of possibility in such settings. While my referent from here on will be the classroom, I hope the possible connections of these issues to other sites of cultural work will not be lost and may be posed as questions for subsequent collective discussion.
Perhaps I should begin this exposition of issues with a brief explanation for the use of the term "pedagogy," for certainly the word has its detractors. 2 One can hardly use the term in conversation in schools and living rooms without a degree of embarrassment at sounding like a pretentious academic. Most people want to know, and often with some degree of aggressiveness, "Isn't pedagogy just a highfalutin word for teaching?" Well, I must admit, I do use the term to some degree as a provocation; as an attempt to rupture everyday talk about classroom