Latest posts by Ken Carroll (see all)
- How To Get The Content Advantage - December 11, 2015
- Why I’m Buying Jay Baer’s New Book Even Before I Know The Title - December 10, 2015
- The Managerial Class Sucks At Content And This Is Your Opportunity - November 19, 2015
Some teachers see their work as a subversive act. To them, perhaps, western democracy is lacking, and requires their intervention. There is also an assumption that the teacher possesses the truth - that he knows with some degree of certainty what needs to be changed in our society and why.
This is not how I see it. The real purpose of education, I believe, centers around the pursuit of truth. The teacher's role is to help learners find truth, not to instill a particular political view of the world, and still less to set them on a course of active subversion that the teacher chooses.
There is no single truth in politics or morality. No paradigm explains either, and no teacher can 'know' political truths - he can only hold opinions. The learner has to be free to seek truth and form his own conclusions. To my mind, imparting political 'truth' is a form of coercion, something you find amongst ideologues or authoritarian systems. I believe teachers have a moral obligation not to push their own political agenda in the classroom.
As citizens in a democracy we have obligations (not just rights) towards it. Subversion for its own sake is not one of them. There is a difference between fairly debating the good and the bad in our society, and encouraging students to undermine it. If teaching is subversive it is unlikely to present both sides of the issues. So, imbuing students with hostility towards their own democratic tradition (even where we vehemently disagree with a particualr government) is an anti-democratic thing to do. Consider the company you keep in that category.
It may be true that, as an individual, you are either working to support political status quo, or working against it. But again, this is an issue for outside the classroom. Students are not our pawns - they also have rights. We are not hired to subvert, just ask your employers, the parents, the learners themselves.
The edupunk debate was a watershed. What for me was a discussion about a really bad software company was for others an issue of ideology. Can of worms: the people who drew anti-corporate political messages about Blackboard need to consider this:
If “edupunk” is anti-establishment and anti-corporation, does that mean a true Edupunk does not use any tools provided by large-scale companies? So does that mean no Google? no Flickr? no QuickTime? Alas - these are all tools provided by corporations. (Link.)
Neither this case, nor society at large, can be defined in terms of class warfare or one group oppressing another on the basis of ideology. That is way too reductionistic a view of society. (It's also unnecessarily confrontational.) Besides, it is fully possible to take Blackboard to task without resorting to ideology. Politicization makes proper discussion untenable, particulalrly where it is reduced to Marxist analysis.
Of course it is true that a free society has its own ideology. Many, many layers of meaning and ideology underlie free societies, but these include the ideology of democracy itself, of free speech, and of economic freedom, etc. It may even be true, as Gramsci pointed out, that one of the ideological foundations of democracy is that democracy does not have ideology, when of course it does. Either way, no single paradigm captures the complexity of an economic or social system. All it will do is distract from the real issue of learning.
Note, too that we have formed our own hierarchy in the edublogosphere. At the head of it sits Stephen. Like the rest of you I read Stephen assiduously, because I learn from him every time. He simply is a leading light in this field. But whether he likes it or not, Stephen has become an authority. Shouldn't we be subverting authority figures? Is he oppressing us with his ideology? (No, he is not.) How about a cultural revolution? An attack for the sake of it? How much sense would that make? Not much.
I don't plan on writing about politics again, so let me just say that subversion for its own sake is wanting. My vote is to keep ideology out of this debate. Can we just stick to the learning?