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Propaganda and Public Pedagogy  

Phil Graham

Propaganda and public pedagogy are rarely juxtaposed in education research contexts. However, the two terms are closely related and require joint consideration for the broader future of critical education research. The terms describe state-based educational processes conducted on a mass scale and are in fact describing “the same thing” to a large degree. Both are forms of mass rhetoric that were swiftly tempered to industrial strength in the early 20th century during World War I. Since then, propaganda has come to be treated as a cultural derogatory, an inherently oppressive force, while public pedagogy has come to be framed as an unmitigated force for good. However, both are nationalist projects that involve the school in both positive and negative ways. Ultimately, this contribution is about methods, methodology, and axiology (the logic of values). By juxtaposing propaganda and public pedagogy as historically isomorphic terms, and framing both as state-based rhetorics designed to propagate specific habits, actions, attitudes, and understandings en masse, it becomes evident that if public pedagogy is to become an applied research agenda it requires applied methods and methodologies, along with conscious and positive normative theses in respect of purpose. The methods and methodologies, and in many important cases the axiologies developed by the propagandists, provide a rich source for assessment and potential application in the field of public pedagogical research. At some level that suggests a Faustian bargain: surely, the immensely negative connotations of the term “propaganda” preclude the application of its methods and values in the practice of public pedagogic research. Yet if public pedagogy is something that educators aspire to do rather than merely analyze or seek to understand, then the methods of the propagandists are, if nothing else, the most obvious starting point.

Article

Sex/Gender and Affect/Emotion  

Barbara S. Stengel

Sex/gender and affect/emotion mutually implicate one another in any theory, research, or practice with respect to education. It is important to examine these two elements together because the emergent focus on affect since the early 1970s is not an accident of thought but tracks the interest in sex/gender as an object of study and tracks as well the increased and increasing visibility of scholars who are not male, cisgendered, and heterosexual. Two overlapping but distinguishable approaches to the study of affect and emotion—affect theory and the feminist politics of emotion—have contributed to changing conceptions of sexuality and gender with respect to educational purposes and pedagogies. Affect theory begins and ends in lived experience; a feminist politics of emotion begins and ends in the press for active response that accompanies that lived experience. Nonetheless, there is a common concern with how power circulates through feeling and how ways of being and knowing come to be through affective relations and discourses. Moreover, there is a shared commitment to understanding affects not as constraints on rationality and hurdles to ethical action, but as the potential to think, act, and live differently.

Article

Exploring the Contributions of Sara Ruddick, Nel Noddings, and Ayya Khema to Care Theory and Peacebuilding  

Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon

In the Euro-western world, caring is not a new concept in the fields of philosophy or education; we find examples of writings concerning caring that date back to Ancient Greece. Caring, associated with emotions, has never held as high a status as “reason” in Euro-western, male-dominated philosophy. However, there are exceptions that stand out, such as pragmatist John Dewey’s sympathetic understanding and existentialist Martin Buber’s deeply spiritual I–Thou. Attention was drawn to caring in the 1960s and 1970s due to humanistic psychologists such as Carl Rogers and Milton Mayeroff. Feminist work on caring began building strength during this same time frame, although it can be dated back to Jane Addams’s educational work with immigration families at Hull House, Chicago, in the 1890s, and her peace activism during World War I, which resulted in her receiving a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. As more women were offered the opportunity to earn college degrees, a space opened up for considering what women might uniquely have to offer to their various fields of study. Care theory in the 1960s and 1970s sought to bring out important ways of knowing associated with care work, which included domestic care (care of homes, families’ health, emotional and physical well-being), and fields of study and work focused on caring such as nursing and teaching. The 1980s and 1990s brought further development of care theory and expansion by scholars such as Carol Gilligan, Sara Ruddick, and Nel Noddings, as well as strong critiques by other scholars who worried that “caring” was honoring the relational work women do by overgeneralizing women, ignoring race and cultural differences, for example, by essentializing women and not recognizing gender differences, by being exclusionary of nonchildrearing women who are not care workers in the home, and by ignoring men who do this kind of work, and more. It is important to give a generous description of the earlier work, consider key critiques, and care theorists’ responses to these critiques, for the strong response by scholars to postcolonial, postmodern, critical race and queer theories’ critiques was to devalue care theory. It is also important to note that attention to care theory is returning. Philosophers of education are responding to more recent [since 2000] student assessment trends by reclaiming the importance of teachers’ diverse caring relationships with students, as well as students’ caring relationships with each other and toward their environment. Ecological concerns are bringing a focus back to care theory that is deeply rooted in humans’ connections to nature, given women’s fundamental physical, reproductive, and maternal roles. Care theory continues to contribute to peacebuilding efforts around the world, through a relational ontology that starts with the assumption that we are all born with relationships with our biological mothers, adoptive families, and extended communities. With each child born comes the renewed hope of peace. As can be seen, due to the size of this topic, we must be selective in addressing particular aspects while pointing the reader to other sources they may want to turn to for more insights.

Article

John Dewey and Curriculum Studies  

Craig A. Cunningham

John Dewey (1859–1952) has been (and remains) the most influential person in the United States—and possibly in the entire world—on the development of the field of curriculum studies. His theoretical works on education, spanning more than 50 years, have been widely read by theorists and practitioners, who have used Dewey’s ideas as a kind of North Star for American educational theory. Of particular importance for the study of curriculum, Dewey strove to overcome traditional dualistic conceptions of the relation of the child to the curriculum, seeing them as two points on the same line, to be connected through the child’s experiences. Dewey offered general guidance for determining whether particular experiences are likely to lead to growth. Contemporary curriculum scholars who look at the many rich resources that Dewey offers in his works that are not explicitly about education may be richly rewarded. Books and articles about the arts and aesthetics, politics and democracy, ethics, logic, metaphysics, and psychology have yet to be fully incorporated into curriculum studies. In addition to his theoretical work, Dewey was the founder (in 1896) and director of the Laboratory School at the University of Chicago, where he and his wife Alice Chipman Dewey conducted pedagogical experiments with elementary schoolchildren, demonstrating how a set of well-framed social activities could lead students to face and solve problems, thus gaining knowledge and skills from the subject-matter disciplines. Dewey also spent a lifetime demonstrating commitments to democracy and the public good. While Dewey offers many opportunities for criticism, overall, his expansive influence has resulted in better theory across educational fields including curriculum studies.

Article

Freedom and Education Revisited  

Pedro Tabensky

There is an influential and highly diverse tradition of philosophers and philosophically inclined educational theorists who argue that education should aim at freedom, indeed that education, properly understood, is the practice of freedom. On the one hand, there is the movement that neither commences nor ends with John Dewey (active during the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century), but of which Dewey’s philosophy of education is the neuralgic point. On the other hand, there is the movement, inspired to some extent by Dewey but quite distinct from it, launched by Paulo Freire in the second half of the 20th century—known as critical pedagogy. Freire and his followers—bell hooks and Henry Giroux, among them—explicitly claim that education is the practice of freedom and think of this practice as emancipatory in its aims. Dewey never explicitly describes education as the practice of freedom, but Richard Rorty, one of Dewey’s most influential followers, does so, and he correctly attributes the view to Dewey.