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[Xmca-l] Re: What is a Pedagogy of the Oppressors?

Greg, Vera,
You both agree with the need to see through the prejudices of individualism
as an ideology.   Greg's statement:

"a pedagogy of the oppressors (which, is, in part to say, the
focus of my own re-search and education) is a pedagogy that can help
liberate these students from an individualistic ideology (and following
Michael G, this is not to say that there is anything wrong with people
thinking as individuals"

 How deeply ingrained is this *individualistic* ideology?  With the best of
intentions and the desire to want to *help* others, how do students at the
elite centers of learning imagine there next step after graduating. The
option for most of them is to hopefully move [as individuals] after
re-locating to where work is to be found. There seems to be no other
options if they are to become employed.

Is not this way of imagining the possible trajectory of one's future career
path also *individualistic*?
 How many individuals are willing to imagine a future without this freedom
of mobility to find their own meaningful employment.  [acknowledging
that many imagine the move will be to help others].

The *collectivist* answer as an alternative does not *call* many to a life
of service because of the fear of loosing one's individual freedom to
remain mobile. Zygmunt Bauman writes about the ideology of *liquid
modernity* which has radically changed earlier modes of  *solid modernity*.

With these questions in mind we should look closely [and listen carefully
and intently] to the expression of actual concrete models such as the
creation of *third spaces* that are neither *individual* or *collectivist*
but are focusing on notions of *witnessing* [bearing witness] to a hybrid
*mode* that is BOTH individual AND intersubjective.

The concrete details of how this *context* was structured to create a
*third space* emphasizes the notion of a *space* that *holds* our dreams
through the power of *witnessing*.
This requires *leadership* and a transformative understanding of *living in
*Truth* as dialogical and multiple and *relevant* for our current moment in

Kris says her work was guided by the dream of *cosmopolitanism* and third
spaces are contributing to this *stream* of social dreaming.  The *third
space* is a flexible and fluid concept but is not merely individualistic
nor collectivist. It is a *project* in the way Andy uses the term, which
honours the *AND* and the *BOTH* of the individual AND the
intersubjective AS a hybrid form.

Is it possible for elite centers of learning to nurture *third spaces* or
must these more radical forms develop beyond the confines of elite centers
of learning?

I also with Greg and Vera believe the ideology of individualism runs deep
in our epoch's ideology, but I do wonder if a possible way through is to
actually *live our truth*  which means actually living with others within
communities in our day to day activities as social dreamers.

Question: How central to the *third space* as being transformative was the
*immersion* for a full month in living together full time. Are there other
ongoing *third spaces* where participants are committing to
developing transformative *third spaces* that continue as communities of
practice in more permanent arrangements? Are elite centers of learning the
only places where *third spaces* can be imagined and actualized?

Or is the possibility of creating what Winnicott named *holding
environments* impossible to imagine from within our current ideological
preconceptions of individual autonomy?  Is this type of *social dreaming*
mere fantasy and fiction? Do we need to be more *realistic*?
The notion of *witnessing* implies a notion of *leadership*. I would
suggest Kris has given us   a *concrete* living example of what is possible
when committed people claim a *truth* which includes BOTH the individual
AND the intersubjective. Not either one or the other, but a hybrid *space*
of possibilities.  One month together and lives were transformed forever
and new *dispositions* formed.

If these models *work* how do we take the next step asking how are these
models sustained over time?. The ideology of individualism makes this
question seem an impossible dream.

Greg, if your students, with the best of intentions, are unconsciously
perpetuating a pedagogy of the oppressor, do we actually need to go beyond
"knowing" to "living in relevant truth".
 Zygmunt Bauman would argue we will need to overcome our current dream of
individual social mobility where the rich elites move freely around the
planet while to be *stuck* in place seems oppressive and stagnant and


On Sun, Jan 4, 2015 at 10:27 PM, Vera John-Steiner <vygotsky@unm.edu> wrote:

> I agree with Greg that the problem we face when confronting oppression is
> the ideology of individualism. In discussions about Ferguson and related
> events we are frequently told that police brutality is due to a few bad
> cops. But what we are faced with is a system of oppression that has been
> hidden from public view but is deeply and painfully experienced by members
> of many poor African-American communities. A recent book by Alice Goffman (
> a sociologist as was her famous father) entitled On the Run describes her
> experiences in a Philadelphia Black community where she lived for six years
> while both an undergraduate and graduate student. I only read extensive
> interviews with her (waiting for the book) in which she detailed
> the incessant harassment and persecution of young Black men as well as the
> oppression of their mothers, partners etc. How are future members of the
> police taught and socialized to carry out these acts? I am not sure, but
> there is a pedagogy involved in turning these future cops into oppressors.
> And there are many structural reasons why in our current society we want
> to jail rather than create employment for young men who may have done
> nothing or misbehaved in ways for which  young white men would experience a
> slap on the wrist. I do agree that a start was made by members of the
> Frankfurt school in trying to explore some psychological features of
> oppression under Nazi rule. But not much else has been done since then
> about the socialization that turns naïve youth into occupying soldiers,
> cops or prison guards. It is a grim topic and though I thought I wanted to
> pursue it, I did not have Alice Goffman's courage and determination. And
> thus choosing avoidance I,too, am an accessory to oppression.
> Vera
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-l-bounces+vygotsky=unm.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
> xmca-l-bounces+vygotsky=unm.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Greg
> Thompson
> Sent: Sunday, January 04, 2015 9:12 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: What is a Pedagogy of the Oppressors?
> Francis,
> I too try for an approach of (viral?) immanent critique. I think that
> there are situations where people will "get it" (or maybe "get infected by
> it"), but I particularly sympathize with your day-by-day worries that I'm
> not doing enough and that I should be taking more radical action. But I
> also recall the words of a mentor of mine, feminist scholar and philosopher
> of education Audrey Thompson, who used to point out the importance of
> carrying out a work on multiple levels - some more radical than others but
> all are necessary for change to happen (e.g., Malcolm X and MLK). Still not
> sure I'm convinced of that (if not now, when? if not you, who? and all
> that...), but it's where I'm at.
> The overwhelmingly white and mostly middle-class students I confront have
> very good hearts and are often quite interested in this project of
> "liberating the oppressed" (a phrasing that still makes me nervous -
> Perhaps because it seems overly ambitious, or perhaps because it smacks of
> paternalism, but for both reasons I think it is a propos for describing
> what my students are up to). The problem is that my students seem to think
> in ways that are ideologically individualistic. These students can't see
> beyond psychological thinking in which individuals are entirely responsible
> for all that they think and do. They can't see how anything beyond the
> individual could have much relevance to the individual, much less how it
> could play a constitutive role. They are entirely taken by the myth of
> individual will and see the task of liberation of the oppressed to be a
> simple task of educating the oppressed to be more willful in their efforts
> to succeed in an (assumedly) meritocratic system. As a result, they throw
> all their energies behind projects that are doomed to fail in terms of
> accomplishing what they want to accomplish, i.e., "helping" other people.
> So, for me, a pedagogy of the oppressors (which, is, in part to say, the
> focus of my own re-search and education) is a pedagogy that can help
> liberate these students from an individualistic ideology (and following
> Michael G, this is not to say that there is anything wrong with people
> thinking as individuals - the problem lies with the ideology of
> individualism). And yes, here is where I see the approach of CHAT to be
> really remarkably useful precisely AS a pedagogy of the oppressor. CHAT
> offers a way of appreciating the role of context in the ongoing
> constitution of individuals. That seems useful. Perhaps even liberating...
> cheers,
> greg
> p.s. One recent TED talk I came across that I find useful (particularly
> for those students of mine who are interested in international development,
> of which I have a fair number) is Sirolli's talk titled "Want to Help
> Someone:
> Shut Up and Listen":
> http://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen
> The talk and Sirolli's approach leave a lot to be desired, but I sincerely
> appreciate the sentiment "if you want to help someone, shut up and listen",
> and I have found this to be useful to get students to actually begin to
> realize that the world may be bigger (and perhaps badder) than they had
> previously imagined.
> On Sun, Jan 4, 2015 at 6:16 PM, FRANCIS J. SULLIVAN <fsulliva@temple.edu>
> wrote:
> > Wow, this is a great thread, one I think about all the time, as one of
> > the oppressors. Not by choice, as I see this as a structural, or
> > rather a "positional" category, akin to the workings of power in terms
> > of one's relationship to the means of production. I can still recall
> > Horkheimer and Adorno's anecdote in *Dialectic of Enlightenment*, one
> > the ways that the songs of the Sirens went unheard by Odysseus'
> > crew--as he had stoppered their ears--yet remained useless to Odysseus
> as he was lashed to the mast.
> > So, I certainly agree that we need a pedagogy of the oppressors as a
> > complement to that of the oppressed. I always thought that was the
> > major effort of the Frankfurt School.
> > As someone who teaches secondary school pre-service teachers, I am
> > quite aware of my structural position as an "officer of the State." I
> > was in the middle of revising my syllabi for the upcoming semester
> > when I saw this thread emerge. The advent of the corporate reform of
> > schooling called Common Core poses a fundamental threat to the
> > democratic roots of education in the US, yet I can neither ignore it
> > nor simply trash it. The students I prepare must be able to address
> > the Core if they are to have a career at all. So, for better or worse,
> > I find the best resistance to be the tightest embrace of the
> > "principles" embedded in the Core, an embrace that, I hope, lets me
> > transform them into a useful and useable critique of the Core itself.
> > So, this semester, we examine "speaking" and "writing" standards in
> > terms of dialect, code, and register differences. We develop lessons
> > and units in which high school students grapple with the reality of
> > "code-switching," and the choices one can make to successfully
> > navigate speech and writing situations defined by conflicting purposes
> and relational hierarchies.
> >
> > Of course, all this is news to my students, almost all of whom are
> > white and middle-class, and most of whom are male. So, I approach
> > these topics by emphasizing that learners develop best when teaching
> > meets them where they are and builds on what they know. I choose texts
> > that de-emphasize the kinds of oppression that plays out in the lives
> > of urban students. So, where does someone like me fit in this mosaic?
> > Are we "leading the resistance from behind; or allowing ourselves to
> > be co-opted?" My answer to that changes at least weekly, sometimes
> > daily. I can only say that I'm doing what I can.
> >
> > Francis J. Sullivan, Ph.D.
> > Associate Professor
> > Department of Teaching and Learning
> > College of Education
> > Temple University
> > Philadelphia, PA 19122
> >
> >
> > Find out what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact
> > measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.
> >
> >  Frederick Douglass
> >
> > On Sun, Jan 4, 2015 at 3:46 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu>
> wrote:
> >
> > > Hi,
> > >
> > >
> > > I am peeling off from the old thread to begin a new thread!
> > >
> > >
> > > Our inquiry hear appears to be: What is a Pedagogy of the Oppressors?
> > >
> > >
> > > I suggest "a" and not "the" because there could be more than one,
> surely?
> > >
> > >
> > > For new arrivers to this thread, it commenced from this thread here:
> > >
> > > http://xmca.ucsd.edu/yarns/15848
> > >
> > >
> > > With its genesis here, thanks to Greg!
> > >
> > > http://xmca.ucsd.edu/yarns/15848?keywords=#52332?
> > >
> > >
> > > Kind regards,
> > >
> > >
> > > Annalisa
> > >
> > >
> >
> --
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Anthropology
> 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602
> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson