ERIC Number: EJ941831
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Feb
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 50
Alchemies and Governing: Or, Questions about the Questions We Ask
Popkewitz, Thomas S.
Educational Philosophy and Theory, v39 n1 p64-83 Feb 2007
This article turns one of most cited philosopher's John Dewey's title, "How We Think" (1933/1998) back upon itself to consider how "thought" or "reason" are cultural practices that historically order and generate principles for reflection and action. The discussion proceeds thusly: (1) Schooling is about changing people; (2) Changing people embodies cultural theses about modes of living, such as that of being a lifelong learner or a Learning Society. The modes of living in modern pedagogy embody changing cultural norms and values about systems of reason that are to express universal cosmopolitan qualities; (3) Pedagogy fabricates the systems of reason to principles for reflection and participation that shreds provincial values in the name of greater universal cosmopolitan values; (4) This "making" of cosmopolitan "reason" forms through cultural practices that have overlapping sets of distinctions and differentiations about agency, the rational planning of one's biography in time, and science as a procedure for action in daily life. The educational sciences and philosophy of education are inscription devices or intellectual tools in the governing practices; (5) The inscriptions of reason, however, are more than mere qualities of thought or the mind. The narratives and images of cosmopolitan reason embody particular sublimes about collective hopes, desires and fears; (6) Further, the distinctions of cosmopolitan reason are comparative in that the very qualities of the "reasonable person" create maps of its opposite: those who do not "fit" the normalized qualities of the cosmopolitan thus stand outside that mode of living; The last section (7) provides three exemplars of the changing notions of the cosmopolitan and its "other" in school subjects (literacy, mathematics, and music). School subjects are viewed as alchemies that transmogrify disciplinary thinking into normalizing pedagogies that fabricate who the child is and should be. The historical sketch has two layers in its educational study. One is to explore the politics of schooling with cosmopolitanism as a comparative method to consider the changing cultural practices that fabricate who child is and should be. The second raises questions about taken-for-granted categories and their systems of reason of education and reform. The very categories and distinctions of policy, educational research and philosophy are historicized as cultural practices to order, classify and divide what is "seen" and felt as experience.
Descriptors: Literacy, Mathematics Instruction, Social Behavior, Behavior Standards, Educational Research, Educational Philosophy, Role of Education, Educational Environment, Politics of Education, Social Values, Cultural Context, Music Education, Hidden Curriculum, Socialization, Educational History
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A