critical education theory
Ivan illich (1970; 1973) gained international recognition writing about both education (Deschooling Society) and technology (Tools for Conviviality); both of which have, in recent years, been noted as being remarkably prescient of the internet, the emergence of social computing (Kop, 2008), and the Open Source movement (Leadbeater, 2008). In Deschooling Society, Illich (1970) presents a postindustrial alternative model of education within a broad social, political, economic and ecological framework.
Blair, T. (2000). The knowledge economy: UK Prime Minister speech, Knowledge 2000 conference, London, 7 March 2000.
Socialist and poststructuralist feminists question critical pedagogy’s Marxist ideology and its concept of emancipation. Marxist theory was traditionally concerned with male labor and production, while women’s experiences were understood as part of oppression within their class position. Consequently, social feminists contend that Marxist and neo-Marxist theories are inadequate for gender analysis (Jagger, 1983; Lather, 1992a; Luke & Gore, 1992; Mackinnon, 1983; Weiler, 1988). Nicholson 0994) argues that Marxism is seen as “not only irrelevant to explaining important aspects of women’s oppression but, indeed, as an obstacle in the attempt to develop such explanations” (p. 71). Nicholson also claims that similar arguments can be made against Marxism in movements against racism and in movements for gay and lesbians.
Just as Habermas and Marcuse, for example, do not believe that technology has only negative characteristics, not all education critical theorists find only harm in media. For example, Phelen’s (1988) “Communing in Isolation,” an article that alludes to critical theory, argues that mass media campaigns can successfully communicate messages when they use local celebrities, live meetings, and easily measured finite goals.
Sometimes, in education, in more honest spaces, critical thinking isn’t spoken of at all; in many other places it appears in relation to levels of assessment as another stick to beat teachers with (“Not enough criticality!”) It’s a Dancing Princesses thing, an Anti-Hero thing, a Tutor Voices thing – the empirical certainty that critical education has world-changing properties. As with anything in this representational world, where descriptions of a thing become twisted to suit every agenda until the sight of the thing is lost, getting the point across the whole adult education sector is not easy. Many people don’t expect to hear real honesty in this day and age. They don’t want to hear that education equals change.
Change (or transformation) is at the heart of critical education, it is its heart. Whether you call it critical pedagogy, social purpose (as we at Northern College and our WEA colleagues do), or, as Rebecca Maxted terms it (2), social justice, doesn’t matter. It pares back to the same Freirean (3) place: students and tutors working as equals to question their world as a prelude to direct and affirmative political action. This – inevitably – terrifies those who hold conventional power, whether that’s ‘the patriarchy’, Nicky Morgan or your line manager.
ISSN 1920-4175 Critical Education
Deadline extended . August 1, 2020
The idea of a radically new social, historical or economic order centered on information or knowledge has an important and politically-charged history. By examining this history and thus historicizing the idea of the knowledge economy, it is possible to show its gradual construction and its actual and possible contestation. This history begins with a paradigmatic “shift recognized as early as 1973 by Daniel Bell�the shift from an industrial to a knowledge economy. ” (Gandel, Katz, Metros, 2004, p. 42). Bell, who is sometimes described as one of the fathers of neo-conservatism (e.g., see Nuechterlein, 1990), is famous for his account of the “coming. postindustrial society.” In fact, this phrase forms the title of a text by Bell, which arguably serves as the basis for much subsequent speculation on new social and economic forms for the twentieth century (e.g., Brzezinski, 1970; Toffler, 1980; see Mattelart, 2003 pp. 73-98). In his foreword to the 1999 edition of this famous text, Bell lists the characteristics of the coming postindustrial society and how they have become and continue to be manifest. Among these are four trends: First, Bell identifies a shift from “manufacturing to services” in the workforce and the economy (Bell, 1999, xv). The percentage of the workforce employed in the manufacturing sector in America, Bell points out, has shrunk over the past decades, and has been accompanied by an “extraordinary rise of professional and technical employment” (Bell, 1999, p. xv). Associated with this first shift is an important, second change, an increase in the general importance of education: “Today education has become the basis of social mobility,” as Bell puts it, “especially with the expansion of professional and technical jobs. ” (Bell, 1999, p. xvi). A third change listed by Bell is the increased importance of technological infrastructure, and what he refers to as “intellectual technology:” “These technologies,” Bell explains, “form a complex adaptive system that is the foundation of the electronically mediated global economy” (1999, xvii). The combined result of these and other changes is effectively summarized in Bell’s fourth trend or characteristic: The “knowledge theory of value:” “Knowledge is the source of invention and innovation. It creates value-added and increasing returns to scale. ” (Bell, 1999, xvii).
As emphasized earlier, however, the task of critical theory is not simply to engage in “criticism” for its own sake. It also seeks to generate emancipatory forms of knowledge able to provide alternative and progressive ways of thinking and acting. These can be found by looking to sources of information that stand as alternatives to those usually referenced in e-learning or research and development in ICTs. One simple example of this kind of source is provided by information that is supplied to people who are unemployed or who find themselves, as is euphemistically said, “in between jobs.” Imagine yourself looking for a job as a student or considering the possibility of a new area of employment (as millions of people do every day). As a part of your job search you go to the US Department of Labor Web site and look at the “career advice” section available there. Under the heading “Career Changers” this Web site lists the top ten highest-growth industries in the US and shows the total number of jobs that will be created in each by the year 2014. Based the way that the “knowledge economy” has been described above, you would think that jobs in research, in high tech and in information technologies would be at the very top of this list. But this is not the case. The first three industries or areas of employment listed are “hospitality,” “health care” and “retail.” Together, these three categories will provide more new jobs than the remaining seven job categories, combined. These top three sectors are predicted to produce over 15 million jobs in the US by 2014. After these top three come the financial services and construction industries. These top five industries hardly suggest that your best chances for a job would be to become a “mature knowledge producer” who would manage and produce knowledge or direct and meter knowledge flows. You would be more likely to conclude that future career choices can be found in the area of service: Working in a Wal-Mart (retail), a Holiday Inn (hospitality), or perhaps more optimistically as a hospital worker or care provider (healthcare).