politics quotes

a site of struggle for control of the conditions of knowledge production

Whether in schools or in other public spheres, public intellectuals must struggle to create the conditions that enable students and others to become cultural producers who can rewrite their own experiences and perceptions by engaging with various texts, ideological positions, and theories. They must construct pedagogical relations in which students learn from each other, learn to theorize rather than simply ingest theories, and begin to address how to decenter the authoritarian power of the classroom. Students must also be given the opportunity to challenge disciplinary borders, create pluralized spaces from which hybridised identities might emerge, take up critically the relationship between language and experience, and appropriate knowledge as part of a broader effort at self-definition and ethical responsibility. What I am suggesting here is that public intellectuals move away from the rigid, ideological parameters of the debate about the curriculum or canon. What is needed is a new language for discussing knowledge and authority and the possibility of giving the students a role in deciding what is taught and how it is taught under specific circumstances. The question is not merely, who speaks and under what conditions? It is also about how to see universities (and public schools) as important sites of struggle over what is taught and for control of the conditions of knowledge production itself.

Giroux, H. A. (1997). Pedagogy and the politics of hope: Theory, culture, and schooling: a critical reader. WestviewPress (Boulder, Colo.), p263.

One reply on “a site of struggle for control of the conditions of knowledge production”

I’m not certain to whom he is referring with ‘public intellectuals’. He seems to mean teachers and academics. I reckon the current model of standardised teaching and assessment is bust and no longer fit for purpose. Obv this depends on what one sees as the purpose of education. If we want creative, fulfilled and intellectually flexible people then the experience of learning has to become much more creative and flexible. People, including kids, should feel in control of what they learn and, to a greater extent, how they approach/engage with the material. This requires a rethink of how best to group learners, how to design materials and how to organise the learning environment. Different challenges for every subject area. Of course many traditional ideas will justifiably endure. I reckon kids should be developing critical essay writing skills from age 7. I regularly meet people who have arrived at University with very little experience of this. But how then are school kids exploring the relationship between language and meaning? How are they developing the ability to make sense of and draw useful conclusions from all the information swilling around in front of their eyes?

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