In the stream-of-consciousness style of the lovely Dr. Kate (whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the conference), an in-no-particular-order dump of notes from the AERA conference:
Overall Random Thought: the theory was interesting in several presentations, but the data kind of disappointing. is it that we don't have good methods yet for getting at what we want (data collection)? or that we don't know what to do with what we've got (data analysis)? OR (was talking about this with Guy) is it just that despite the intriguing titles and theoretical frameworks, we keep hearing the same old same old (somewhat disturbing given that I can say this after only 3 years of graduate school) - implying perhaps that we're constantly in a competition to find new ways to articulate the same (old) things? new lenses for analysis can be a good thing - I'm thinking of the way that the spatial turn can shed light on assumptions and destablize "natural" ways of thinking about not only the data, but also the process of research. On the other hand, I heard too many presentations where the theory (spatial and other) felt like it was being invoked in word, but not in the spirit of the original critical project of the theoritician.
(UPDATED NOTE: Am reading Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition for class tomorrow. Have come across the following passage, in Jameson's introduction: "...theories of the performative, for which the justification of scientific work is not to produce an adequate model or replication of some outside reality, but rather simply to produce more work, to generate new and fresh scientific énoncés or statements, to make you have "new ideas..." p. ix While acknowledging that I'm taking it out of context, still, seems to describe the sentiment of the above paragraph.)
- Allan Luke in the Foucault and Ed invited session: Foucaultian critique of notions of Discourse (Kress, Fairclough, Gee) that presuppose systematic coherence in Discourse. ... all educational practice is a form of normativity, intended or not. The insight that all Discourses are normative doesn't address the consequences. What are the material consequences of discourse? Critical discourse analysis gets at the problems, but what would an affirmative culture actually look like? Ed policy as a Discourse constructive act: regulating bodies, regulating capital. An outline for a Foucaultian analysis of ed policy Discourse: investigate grand narratives in policy texts, as well as uptake of Discourse in classrooms.
Thoughts: Discourses aren't inherently coherent, systematically recurring statements in what way? seems to imply there's no driving intention behind the patterns of statements, that policymakers perhaps just echo things they hear without thinking? but it seems that there has to be *some* coherence if we can identify it as a grand narrative. Is it only coherent in hindsight, or in the analysis?
- Marge Sheehy, in the Interrogations into the Politics of Location at Intersections of Social Planning and Pedagogies session: theoretical fmwk - topology, place doesn't exist w/o Discourse (Leontis, 1995). how do ideologies move through space? role of public discourse: standards (i.e. assessment standards) discussed in the mass media become immutable, stabilized. once knowledge is stabilized, then you can be called competent or incompetent.
- Hirst and Crenshaw, Whose space is it anyway?: theoretical fmwk - Bahktin's chronotope. Hirst (the researcher) as a character; theorizing researcher positionality. tries to index invoked + produced time/space. chronotopic grounding, always in context. LOTE classroom located in historical and policy context; how were teachers imagined (by others)? LOTE teachers as itinerants (policy: efficiency), experts in the culture and language. Teacher also creates chronotopic grounding (produced): maintaining a formal sense of guru. students produced a chronotope of playground, Othering the teacher. whose space was it? teacher was bordered (by policy, the students), and bordered himself (ignores the bad kids - they're invisible). "caught between the script and the counterscript of the classroom." LOTE clsrm ends up being space of Othering, racist, instead of cultural understanding as wished by the policymakers.
- Michael Apple, Critical Theory Today session: visions require an understanding of our own power + positionality. every action has consequences. if we want to reclaim a liberal agenda, need to understand how the counter-hegemonic becomes hegemonic. "the subaltern speak, but no one listens": restoring memories of where we are from: 1. bearing witness to negativity 2. spaces for action 3. acting as secretaries (new idea of research) 4. in times of loss of collective vision, keep tradition alive. we don't need a perfect vision of the future, we need to understand the mechanisms of the right, to understand the elements of good sense that people have that can be pulled into progressive alliances.
- Peter McLaren, Critical Theory Today session: has critical pedagogy adequately incorporated race and racism, and not just a Marxist obsession w/ class? no, he says. Marx is even more relevant now, b/c he explores how race is refracted through materiality and producation. Oppression as lived w/in a capitalist society.
- ?, Critical Theory Today session: critical pedagogy as part of normalizing education: dogmatic, ethnocentric. critical theories as negative utopias - working against closure. critical teacher education - what is possible? is education possible? can't predict the effects we're going to have on students. imagining a world as it could be otherwise. biography as crucial for this kind of work. debate about a violent/not violent revolution doesn't help us. what is the violence now? there is violence all over - destruction of women's rights, health care, inequality in jobs for women and minorities, tenure process.
- Jill ? - From global to local session: how to problematize what seems natural for mainstream students, esp. when there isn't a diversity of voices in the classroom? understanding their own backgrounds and privilege. thinking critical theory vs. becoming critical theory: moving from big space (global) to little space (local) as a way of taking this up. students learning critical theory may say "that doesn't feel like me." we need an identity position to tell the critical stories of our lives; work on making the critical position available in their identity lives.
Thought: this is something that I've felt when I get the question, why do I study liberal arts college students? (in other words, why am I studying a population that's not at risk?) my feeling has been that we need to focus on these populations as well, because they are (uncritically, unknowingly) complicit in perpetrating oppression. This is not a point that I hear articulated very often in educational research, so I was psyched to hear her make it.
- Critical theory and critical pedagogy today: Toward a new critical language in education, edited by Ilan Gur-Ze'ev, with contributions by Michael Peters, Doug Kellner, Peter McLaren, Michael Apple, Elizabeth Heilman, and others. *Available as a free download.