Henry Giroux’s book is really exciting in the ways that he takes some of Freire’s ideas further. His concept of Radical Education as a posture of questioning received institutions and received assumptions is a really important idea, and absolutely in line with all the ideas I’ve been most drawn to in terms of human potential as it relates to education.
I was happy to hear him say that “even for the white middle-class majority education often, most often functions to silence rather than empower them.” (17) This is truly my experience. I also appreciated his statement that “educators and cultural workers must be engaged in the unlearning of one’s own privilege.” (27) I think this is also one of the most critical efforts that needs to be made in everyone’s personal growth and development.
As I pursue and explore all these ideas further, and feel in myself a growing rebellion against the entrenched intellectual elitism that I experience all around me, I wonder what I am supposed to make of all these ideas. I am not at all drawn to work in the classroom or even in issues of educational policy. I don’t want to work within educational institutions in their present manifestations.
I think Giroux is on to something when he says that “critical educators must give more thought to how the experience of marginality at the level of everyday life lends itself productively to forms of oppositional and transformative consciousness.” (33) This is where I feel most personally blocked. My lived experience is marginal to my present academic environment and discourse and thus I don’t even feel recognized, much less fully articulated or capable of useful, transformative expression. How does one transform anything if one can’t even share one’s unique situation in life as it relates to the themes studied?
How would it work? What would such an environment be like—maintaining the requisite rigor, but including more of the unique spirit/potential/experience of each student in the classroom?
“Any idea upon which we can ride…that will carry us prosperously from any part of our experience to any other part, linking things satisfactorily, working securely, simplifying, saving labor, is true for just so much, true in so far forth, true instrumentally.” – William James (1978:34)