“Who's Schooling Who?”: Counter-Schooling Toward Feasible Utopias

“Who's Schooling Who?”: Counter-Schooling Toward Feasible Utopias

H. Bernard Hall (West Chester University, USA) and Hannah Ashley (West Chester University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0871-7.ch001
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In this chapter, we highlight twenty-first century practices of Freirian dialogue (mutual and reciprocal “schooling”) in two community-engaged programs that work full circle with K-12 youth, college students and university faculty. We argue that in our current socio-economic context, uncovering, theorizing and institutionalizing these practices are essential to the practice of “revolutionary critical education.” We also argue that the specific practices—namely, hip hop pedogogy and community-engagement as movement rather than project--powerfully open authentic spaces for the Freirian endeavor of mutual humanizing to happen, and that these practices have wider implications, particularly for teacher education.
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One of the most important and fundamental ideas that we can glean from Marx’s explanation of capital is that it is both a process and a relation—a social relation between human beings—and not a thing. (Allman, 2010, 7)

… education throughout life would be continually fostering the abilities of citizens who would be constantly engaged in democratically creating and recreating their society at every level. This may sound utopian, but I think it is a feasible utopia, which revolutionary critical educators should be striving to make a reality. (Allman, 2010, xii)


Introduction: Why Counter The Narrative Of Schooling?

The product of education is humanity. Here we might cite Marx, Gramsci, Adorno, Freire, hooks, Foucault, Giroux, and others. By this statement, we do not mean schools manufacture tangible people who have a set of defined knowledge and skills. Rather, we mean schooling produces a social relation. Again, at the risk of being heavy-handed, we don’t mean here commonsense notions of having a “positive (or negative) relationship” among teachers and students. We mean that the ideal outcome of education is—not measurable on a high-stakes test—relations of humanity. It is the opposite of the relations produced by the workings of global capital, and it is not a “thing,” just as capital/capitalism is not a “thing,” as Paula Allman, in Critical Education Against Global Capitalism, reminds us. That education produces subjects is a given, and thus the question becomes whether and how as educators we can produce more human subjects—including ourselves. More human subjects are those more able to respond flexibly with thought and action in, for and with themselves and others. Needless to say, this is not the predominant question being asked about education at this historical juncture.

In a recent op-ed, Giroux (2012) poses the question: Can Democratic Education Survive in a Neoliberal Society? He argues that right-wing “educational deformers” have made their answers to questions concerning the role, purpose, and function of a democracy, public education, teachers and students quite clear: the ends of “repression, conformity, and instrumentalism” justify the means of “privatization, commodification, militarization, and deregulation.” In this historical context, our first task is to help teachers and students recognize the subtle, yet intentional ways school has shifted from a public good to a private right. Why teachers are viewed as service-providers rather than public intellectuals, and students are now consumers instead of critical citizens. How policies cloaked in neoliberal rhetoric of “accountability” and “zero-tolerance” are complicit in the criminal conspiracy better known as the school-to-prison pipeline. And how market-based pedagogies have scapegoated teachers as “the new welfare queens” (Giroux). Then, and more importantly, we must turn our attention to how we might overcome these admittedly daunting challenges.

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