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ERIC Number: EJ1157934
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0160-7561
Neoliberalism, Critical Pedagogy, and the Child
Howlett, Caitlin
Philosophical Studies in Education, v48 p65-73 2017
The authors' life is inundated with children. She has always had an affinity for children insofar as they appear to her to be much more inquisitive and open-minded than the average so-called adult, and thus she enjoys springing big ideas on them to see what emerges. For instance, the author recently engaged in a twenty-minute-long conversation with a seven-year-old about capitalism. One certainly could question the way the author began and framed the conversation, but, for the purpose of this paper, that matters less than the fact that the author was able to sustain a seven-year-old in such a conversation for twenty minutes and, further, that the author learned something in the process: that this particular first grader very deeply knows and feels the difference between finding an answer and being given the answer, between learning for the sake of learning and learning for the sake of being right, and, further, understands the sense of injustice that comes along with having educational possibilities limited by money (this human is often very aware of the inequalities that exist between classrooms, schools and homes, for instance). At the same time, it is worth noting that this same child also loves being right and loves money--the author is constantly scorned for not knowing the answers to his many, many questions, as lack of certainty is very unsettling for this human. Further, on more than one occasion the author has helped him count every penny in his piggy bank to keep track of his earnings, and his favorite book is, for now, a story about a grumpy Donald Duck and his attempt to make and save money. He therefore can already raise questions about the relationship between money and education of the sort that the author expect from her college students. The author bring this up not because she thinks this child is special in both understanding and having knowledge about the relationship between education and capitalism, but because, the author contends, he is not. This anecdote harkens back to Charles Bingham and Gert Biesta's work on the figure of the child in Jacques Rancière's and Paulo Freire's emancipatory work. Here, Bingham and Biesta argue that the figure of the child marks an important site of divergence for these two scholars. Whereas Rancière posits the child as always already political, the authors argue that Freire's method suggests a view of the child as not-yet political, or as a psychological figure. Pedagogically, this is important because it means that Rancière can situate the child as always already an actor in any political moment whereas Freire must situate the child as someone who is not-yet an actor but who first needs to undergo a method that brings about a psychological shift so that the child can participate politically in the future. Building upon this critique of Freire and putting it alongside the above story, the author is interested in the way such a dichotomy about children as political is also grounded in an understanding of the child as knowledgeable, such that to view the child as political is to see them as capable of producing knowledge, and to see the child as not-yet political is to see them as not-yet having legitimate knowledge. This paper thus marks an epistemological extension of Bingam and Biesta's argument. Further, the author extends this critique to the work of critical pedagogies, particularly that of Henry Giroux, to argue that critical pedagogies that assume the child as not-yet having knowledge leave the child susceptible to the very neoliberal logics they supposedly intervene upon. The author therefore offers a theoretical argument that it is necessary to engage children as political and knowledgeable in conversations about neoliberalism on the basis of it being central to their reality, and, further, that the failure to do so marks critical pedagogies' general weakness in the face of neoliberalism.
Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society. Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A