Pushing Past the Missionary Position Education, Salvation, and the Attempt to Alter Teachers’ Conceptions of their Role

Ira David Socol TE 924 Michigan State University Spring 2008 The American system of public education grew out of two elite needs/desires. First, the need/desire to create a moral citizenry with few of the costs of dissent, sloth, and energies wasted in immoral pursuits. Second, the need/desire to create industrial workers capable of the most efficient, and thus cost-effective, use of man hours. These two sets of needs and desires continue to dominate most education in the United States and in nations globally which have been deeply influenced either by ProtestantCapitalism themselves or which have been deeply influenced by transmitted American policies and attitudes since the end of the Second World War. From one we have received the notion of the classroom as Calvinist Church. Whitewalled, frontally-focussed, seats in pew-like rows, students silent and all reading the same text at the same time and expected to absorb the same knowledge and wisdom at the same rate, as they follow a path to conversion into obedient, Christian, adults. From the other we have received the industrial processing model of the school system, in which raw materials are taken in one door, and with continuous application of pressures, are transformed step-by-step into useful machines which emerge 13 or 17 years later. The debate regarding the industrial process of schooling, and the function of school as a training program for workers, has been a long one. “[S]chools should be like factories,” Stanford University’s Elwood Cubberly, stated in the second decade of the twentieth century, and he referred to “teachers as the factory workers and the students as the raw material to be turned into the product which was to meet the specifications of the needs of the 20th century.”’1 (Barger, 2003) From the appointment of The Committee of Ten in 1892 on through the scientific curriculum debates of the first quarter of the twentieth century, to the government policies of the U.S. in the months after the U.S.S.R.’s launch of Sputnik in 1957 this role of education has been explicitly explained. One need only read the 1983 report A Nation at Risk,2 or the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,3 or any document produced regarding the needs for curriculum to correlate with contemporary labor requirements*4 to see that this effort has never slackened. But the debate regarding the role of education as salvation has had a less prominent role, though American educators from the early New England ministers through the same Dr. Cubberley, were clear in their intent that the mission of school was a moral one. The goal
*

“The Chamber's goal is to make sure that all students in America graduate high school academically prepared for a postsecondary education and the workforce. This includes placing a greater emphasis on academic success in the areas of math and science. Accomplishing this goal is vital to assuring a hopeful and fruitful life to all our young people as well as a competitive America in the global marketplace.” – United States Chamber of Commerce.

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of the public school, Cubberley wrote in the 1890s, was to implant, ‘“[t]he Anglo Saxon conception of righteousness, law and order, and popular government” into the immigrant children.”5 (Barger, 2003) When teachers meet students American teachers today, and perhaps in all times, would likely object to being seen as Cubberly’s factory workers. They have shown strong resentment of the current U.S. governments view of them as passive deliverers of scientifically-determined curricula. In fact, many teachers may view themselves as the humanizing component of the educational system, and a mediating force between government and societal policies and students, or even as defenders of student individuality against the industrial process. “Standards-based reform ignores the diversity of needs and talents among adolescents and fails to provide them with a matching diversity of opportunities in education and work,” said one opinion writer in Teacher Magazine.6 “Over 40% [of teachers surveyed] believe that NCLB does not result in teachers making instructional decisions that are best for their students or that it's helping to reduce the achievement gap in education-its primary goal,” according to Teachers Network,7 “And fewer (3%) agree that it encourages them to improve their teaching effectiveness with all students.” But would they also object to being seen as Cubberly’s missionaries of, “righteousness, law and order, and popular government.”? Perhaps this depends on the precise framing, for while the popular understanding of being a “missionary” is inscribed with meanings specifically tied to religion, the concept is essential to the self-image of educators. “[P]edagogical research has inscribed a particular idea of progress,” Thomas Popkewitz says in his 1998 article, The culture of redemption and the administration of freedom as research. “Research about childhood and about teaching are directed at governing the dispositions, sensitivities and capacities of the child. Along with the re-visioned child is a re-visioned new teacher who functions as a redemptive agent. The teacher brings progress to society through the social administration of the child. However, the redemption of the child is not the religious redemption of the 17th and 18th centuries, but instead a secular, worldly redemption that is guided by rational, scientific thought. In this sense, pedagogy and its research govern the soul of the child to produce change and individual betterment.8 Whether teachers would object or not may not represent the essential questions. The essential questions might be: Would they recognize this as their role? Would they show an understanding of the implications of this role on the students? And if they recognized the role and understood the implications, would they find this troubling? Redemption and Salvation “The chief subject matter of school, viewed culturally, is school itself. That is how most students experience it, and it determines what meaning they make of it.”9 (Bruner, 1996)

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As the chief subect matter of church is religion, and the chief matter of the Christian religion is salvation, school, Jerome Bruner argues in The Culture of Education, is about school, and school is about conversion. “Folk pedagogies,” Bruner writes, “reflect a variety of assumptions about children: they may be seen as willful and needing correction; as innocent and to be protected from a vulgar society; as needing skills to be developed only through practice; as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge that only adults can provide; as egocentric and in need of socialization. … whether these views are "right" or not, their impact on teaching activities can be enormous.”10 “We ascended toward the light, five floors up, and split up into thirteen rows facing the god who unlocks the gates of morning. Then there was a pause, then in came Biehl. “Why the pause? “When asked straight out about his pauses by one of the bright girls, Biehl had first gone absolutely still. Then he-who normally never referred to himself as "I"-then he had said, slowly and with great gravity, as though he was surprised by the question, and perhaps even by his own reply, "When I speak, you should listen, first and foremost, to my pauses. They speak louder than my words." “And so it was with the interval between the hall going absolutely still and him coming in and up to the podium. An eloquent pause. His own words. “The morning song was followed by a pause, the Lord's Prayer recited by Biehl pause, a short hymn pause, a traditional, patriotic song pause, and finish, and he left the hall as he had come, briskly, almost running. “What feeling was there in the hall while this was going on? “There was no special feeling, really, I said, it was early in the morning and people were tired, and could we finish now, I was getting a headache, and it was late, the bell had gone already, I pointed out the time. “Not yet, she said, there was yet another relationship she wanted to call to my attention, and that was the relationship to pain. When pain made itself felt during an experiment – like now, with this headache – one should never just break off and walk away from it. Instead one should turn upon it the light of awareness. “That is how she spoke. The light of awareness. “And so we turned upon the fear.” (Høeg, 1993, pp. 3-4)

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When Danish author Peter Høeg begins his book Borderliners in this way he begins his description of education as that process of salvation, and “special education” as a particular form of salvation, the kind exported to the “darkest” places of the earth by the bravest missionaries. He also begins to describe the responses of those who are to be saved. Right in this first passage the victims of this humanitarian rescue are exhausted, and sick, and in pain, and in fear. “The light of awareness.” A Google search of “enlighten students” brings back “about 307,000 web references,11 covering everything from “Ag Day,”† to The Vagina Monologues‡ to climate change,§ the use of “Smart”boards,** Muslim culure,†† and, of course, algebra.‡‡ Googling the phrase “bring to Christ” does produce more hits although a quick perusal suggests a somewhat less diverse group originating those web pages. This bringing of the light suggests that education – as a concept – falls into two significant components which reach back to those Protestant conceptions of teaching. For the ‘elect,’ and the ‘pre-destined’ education serves as a guiding path to ensure that one not fall from grace. In this role it is stifling and limiting, but in use of paradigms and limits created by the parents of this group, the violence and abuse is also limited, and ready excuses are always at hand which allow an easy return to ‘the path.’ But for those outside these boundaries, whether because of culture or flaws of birth, education is as brutal as any historic representation of Christian colonialism. For those deemed furthest from the light – those with “cognitive impairments” or “emotional impairments” or severe physical “disabilities” – the expressions are only slightly less violent and demeaning in nature than the treatment of slaves brought from Africa for hard work and Christianization. For those closer, there is the wholesale brutality of forced conversion by the missionary class. In fact, Høeg’s novel makes this last point explicitly. “Something crucial is lost in the translation from the Danish original,” Malene Arpe of the Toronto Star, wrote in 1995. “Although cumbersome, a direct translation to “Those Who Might Be Useful”§§ would more precisely convey the theme of this thriller/psychological study.”12 So, in the perception of students, seen most clearly from Høeg’s “borderline,” the role is

The Grand Island Independent http://www.theindependent.com/stories/03232008/new_agday23_001.xml.shtml ‡ The Chicago Flame http://media.www.chicagoflame.com/media/storage/paper519/news/2006/03/13/Features/Happy.Fact.Vagin a.Monologues.Enlighten.Students-1684624.shtml § The Review (the University of Delaware) http://media.www.chicagoflame.com/media/storage/paper519/news/2006/03/13/Features/Happy.Fact.Vagin a.Monologues.Enlighten.Students-1684624.shtml ** Mount Desert Islander http://mdislander.com/site/index.php?Itemid=36&id=286&option=com_content&task=view †† The Spectrum (Sacred Heart University) http://mdislander.com/site/index.php?Itemid=36&id=286&option=com_content&task=view ‡‡ DonorsChoose proposal at http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=115222&zone=114 §§ De måske egnede is the Danish title of Borderliners.

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enlightenment, salvation, and conversion for those who “might be useful.” As for, “[t]he children who could not be processed to completion,” in the words of Notre Dame’s Robert Barger, they would be, “considered as scraps,”13 or, in missionary terms, consigned to the fires. But what do teachers see? And how might we help them see what students see? Telling the story Is there a mirror which one might be able to hold up to teachers in a way which might build an understanding of this role? Or must there be multiple mirrors, creating multiple reprsentations? How will these mirrors be understood by the “learner” in this situation, a teacher who has often chosen this profession precisely because of the fit between the missionary role and the ‘helper’ personality? Bruner, attempting to make the culture of education visible, begins with the nature of teaching: “Teaching, in a word, is inevitably based on notions about the nature of the learner's mind. Beliefs and assumptions about teaching, whether in a school or in any other context, are a direct reflection of the beliefs and assumptions the teacher holds about the learner.”14 (Bruner, 1996) Yet this approach has power only if the teacher understands the lens through which they are likely to create those assumptions about the learner. So it may be necessary to add first an explicit description of Calvinist theology with its refusal to accept “learner intitiated action” and thus inability to truly accept “learner-centered education.” “Despite the various contributing streams of thought, a distinctive issue in Calvinist theology that is often used to represent the whole is the system's particular soteriology (doctrine of salvation), which emphasizes that humans are incapable of adding anything to obtain salvation and that God alone is the initiator at every stage of salvation, including the formation of faith and every decision to follow Christ.”15 (Wikipedia on Calvinism) This direct religious argument surely needs more support, including the specific description of the connection between Protestant theology and American education policy, so one could seek support for this even from the American right-wing (the Hoover Institution in this case): “Protestant ministers, who played a large role in social reform movements of the nineteenth century, looked askance at the growth of the Catholic population. Reformers expressed concern about the nation’s social fabric and about its future unity. They looked to the schools to teach the rising generation the values, morals, and outlook

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that seemed necessary for the future well-being of the nation. “The schools appeared to offer a perfect mechanism with which to address these concerns. In the case of the urban poor, reformers expected the schools to combat the bad examples of parents. As they contemplated the possibility of using the schools to uplift the poor and spread republican values.”16 (Ravitch 2000, pp. 8-9) Or the Mackinac Center for Public Policy here: “Mann succeeded in great part because nonsectarianism was a staple of evangelical Protestantism. Where theological division did exist, Mann exploited it to raise fears of sectarianism. Eventually, the generalized Protestant character of the common schools was enough to unify all but the most orthodox Protestants in support of government schooling. This was bolstered in part by Protestants' reaction to increased Catholic immigration and the attempt by Catholics to gain tax support for their parochial schools. Author Andrew J. Coulson notes that some believed that little could be done to "salvage adult immigrants, irretrievably indolent and immoral as they allegedly were." But that their children "could ostensibly be saved from the twin ailments of Irish birth and Catholic faith by the `great remedy' of Protestant public schooling." Indeed, the common school movement and anti-Catholic sentiment were inextricably bound up with one another as citizens desired to prevent Catholic schools from being assisted through tax money and to "Americanize" the foreign-born.”17 (Mackinac Center, 2001) But if teachers are modernists, and full believers in progress, these meditations on the origins of their role in society may be seen as completely irrelevant. In this case Popkewitz’s shift from explicit to implicit religion might be essential: “The school was to act as a moral technology, not merely inculcating obedience, but also seeking to shape personality through the child's emulation of the teacher, through the use of pastoral techniques to encourage self-knowledge and enhance the feeling of sympathetic identification, through establishing the links between virtue, honesty, and self-denial and a purified pleasure. (Rose, 1989, p. 223) Whereas previous pedagogies sought truth in divine providence, "modern" pedagogical knowledge combined certain religious views about salvation with scientific dispositions toward truth and the rational governing of the self. Schooling was a program of disciplining and training the political and social capacities of the democratic citizen (Hunter, 1994, pp. 152-163). Children were to be redeemed-rescued and saved-by making them productive citizens (Baker, 1998; Popkewitz, 1996).”18 (Popkewitz, 1998)

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Or perhaps Høeg’s more poetic combination of the purposes of education and God might reach further: “Fredhoj and Biehl never said it straight out, but I know now, with certainty, what they were thinking. Or maybe not thinking, but sensing. What the cosmology was, upon which all of their actions rested. They were thinking that in the beginning God created heaven and earth as raw material, like a group of pupils entering Primary One, designated and earmarked for processing and ennoblement. As the straight path along which the process of evolution should progress, he created linear time. And as an instrument for measuring how far the process of evolution had advanced, he created mathematics and physics. “I have had the following thought: What if God were not a mathematician? What if he had been working, like Katarina and August and me, without actually having defined either questions or answers? And what if his result had not been exact but approximate? An approximate balance perhaps. Not something that had to be improved upon, a springboard to further achievement, but something that was already more or less complete and in equilibrium.19 (Høeg, 1993. pp. 255-256) Is there one of these mirrors, or some combination, which will serve the purpose? Which will reflect back a reality of the problems with the educational missionary position? The problem bedevils the authors who try. Even Høeg, writing an emotional novel, finds himself trying to explain the developments in European history of the concepts of God and time. Long sections of the book are devoted to understandings of cosmology and the particular notion of time as it formed in northern Europe. Høeg seems unable to tell the story of why “inclusion” – the treating of students who are different as if they were the same – does not work without ensuring that his readers know their philosophical history. Similarly Popkewitz must repeatedly pause in his essay on the role of redemption in education and social administration to recount that same history. “Progress implied a belief in the growth and the development of an organism,” Popkewitz writes, building an explanation very similar to Høeg’s paragraphs just above. “That belief, found in Greek and Hebraic thought, was modified in Christian theology and then secularized in science. Between the 17th and l9th centuries, for example, the idea of progress changed from a spiritual mandate to a descriptive idea that embraced knowledge alone, then to one that included the whole of humanity. The guarantor of movement was people's ability to exercise ever increasing control over both natural and social environments. Kant, for example, established principles of evolution and the progress of mankind that gave justification to social and moral perfection and even human happiness. Reforms of government and society were to make visible the latent, inherent provision of progress.”20 (Popkewitz, 1998) This need to offer philosophical tutorials might seem obvious, after all, philosophy is

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barely taught in American schools, and American teachers particularly, faced with a “dual-major” situation in every teacher training institution (their major field of study and education) as well as unpaid apprenticeships, have little time to delve into the field on their own. And history is another field of limited study in U.S. schools, beyond the memorization of certain timelines. While the intersections of philosophy, history, and religious belief are avoided in most classrooms at all costs. This would not just be time “away from the curriculum,” but would engage the teacher in the most controversial of topics in America – something generally unwelcome by local school boards. While the philosophy of colonialism might appear in a British syllabus regarding history, the better to understand Ireland and India and Zimbabwe, in the U.S. there is no interest in understanding American colonization of the Philippines (or even in knowing that it happened), and thus the discussion of the underlying philosophy would not occur in schools. If the philosophies which underlie Colonialism are not discussed, the thought that, “the idea of progress changed from a spiritual mandate to a descriptive idea that embraced knowledge alone, then to one that included the whole of humanity,” essential to comprehending both Popkewitz’s and Høeg’s views, are not easily understood. But neither Høeg nor Popkewitz write for the American teacher. Høeg writes for a European audience which holds basic understandings of Marxist theory and the role of Christianity in the shaping of European thought, and which has a fairly strong base knowledge of the history of dominant cultures interacting with others. Popkewitz is writing for an academic audience, an audience also likely to have the background knowledge and the vocabulary required to follow the path he lays out. Thus the question is, is either an effective way to hold up the mirror? Are both? Is there a better way? A priori knowledge which reinforce the missionary position “Not only is folk psychology preoccupied with how the mind works here and now, it is also equipped with notions about how the child's mind learns and even what makes it grow. Just as we are steered in ordinary interaction by our folk psychology, so we are steered in the activity of helping children learn about the world by notions of folk pedagogy. Watch any mother, any teacher, even any babysitter with a child and you'll be struck by how much of what they do is steered by notions of "what children's minds are like and how to help them learn," even though they may not be able to verbalize their pedagogical principles.”21 (Bruner, 1996) The folk pedagogy which lies at the root of teaching practice is based in a set of societal myths which remove the desire of teachers to look into the mirror at their own notions and understandings. American teachers “know” certain things a priori. They know, for example, that “equality” is an important thing, and they have a definite view of what “equality” means.

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In American terms “equality” means something like, ‘treating everyone the same way.” “The U.S. system of education, in contrast [to European models of the late 19th Century], was almost at its start distinctly egalitarian. Americans eschewed different systems for different children, and embraced the notion that everyone should receive a "common," unified, academic education.”22 (Goldin, 1999) As egalitarian as this sounds it is really an an expression of an inherently Calvinistic viewpoint based in proof of status as a member of “the elect.” “Calvinism places strong emphasis, not only on the abiding goodness of the original creation, but also on the total ruin of human accomplishments and the frustration of the whole creation caused by sin,”23 notes Wikipedia. All children are born the same, those who fail to achieve are those led astray by sin. Those who succeed have proven themselves pre-destined to hold the strength of God. This is not an idea held only by those attending traditional Calvinist churches, a minority of Americans. This is a societal viewpoint, an inherent part of America’s civil religion, born of presidential oration, Sunday school sermons, and Horatio Algeresque literature. If being led astray into sin is the problem, the solution is evangelism. Another thing American teachers know is that the real fault lies in their execution and commitment. They are told this daily by politicians and news media, by parents and business leaders, by community members. If the students are failing, it is the failure to properly deliver the word to the students. They know this because they know that America is “the best country in the world,” the “most religious,” the “hardest working,” the wealthiest.” They know that even America’s poorest are nowhere near as poor as those elsewhere, and that unlike secular nations American families are, “committed to their children.” This message is often provided directly within the system of education by the message that the U.S. educational system is, “the envy of the world.” This is expressed by noting the impressive creativity of the American economy. Bill Gates (Harvard) and Sergei Brynn (Stanford) stand as the exemplars – prove that American education works when it is ‘done correctly.’ And there is no doubt that successful education exists in the United States. The problem is that it is generally reserved for the children of the economic and intellectual elite. Schools which, “teach creativity and the problem-solving skills critical to prospering in the global economy,”24 to quote Edward B. Fiske of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. These schools, from Montessori primaries, to Day Schools in wealthy suburbs in the nation’s northeast and northwest, to elite universities and colleges from the Ivy League to places such as St. John’s in Maryland and Reed in Oregon do offer a non-industrial style of education centered in individualized attention, a dialogical form of instruction, and a certain acceptance of student choice. These schools, in turn, provide the United States with much of its economic and political leadership. However, these educational options exist only for a tiny percentage of American students,*** though this choice might seem
***

The numbers are difficult to collect, but total private (including religious) school enrollment in the

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common to a writer like Mr. Fiske who worked for The New York Times and runs a Manhattan-based corporation. This myth-making regarding the success of American schools extends to into history, where the freedoms of the very few are declared as a representation of society in general. “The first and most important tradition is that the family is primarily responsible for its children’s education,” says Hoover Institute historian Diane Ravitch in her argument against public education. “In the colonial era as well as in most of the nineteenth century, families played a large role in teaching their children to read, reading poetry from the schoolbooks at the dinner table or at the fireside, and deciding where to send their children to school.” (We might count the number of poetry books in 18th Century America, but this is a utopian vision as engrained in American consciousness as deeply as Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood spent doing “homework by firelight” – an unlikelihood in a time before students would have possessed either printed books or paper, and before the idea of “homework” was conceived). “The second important tradition is pluralism,” Ravitch continues. “Until well into the nineteenth century, there was no single pattern of schooling. Children and adults learned in a variety of settings, including dame schools, public schools, academies, private schools, church schools, Sunday schools, libraries, and lyceums.”25 These arguments confuse the debate and leave teachers in 98% of American schools at a loss. The implication is a deeply modernist one: the system as it has evolved is fine, or at least good enough given the society’s needs (“To put it bluntly,” Fiske says, “American students may not know as much as their counterparts around the Pacific Rim, but our society allows them to make better use of what they do know.”26), if there is a problem it is in the practice, or in the raw material to which the value is to be added. For teachers faced with a classroom full of students apparently learning neither skills nor creativity, they may choose to blame themselves as their government does with its No Child Left Behind Law, or they may choose to blame the students (a failure of the raw material itself), or, perhaps most commonly, they will choose to blame the environment in which the raw materials were created (as in, ‘this country produces poor cotton,’ or, ‘the stone in these quarries is far too soft,’ or – obviously – ‘what can you do with kids from homes like that.’27). If the blame is to be placed on either the raw material itself or the environment which created that material, then the only solution, sans ‘giving up,’ is to attempt alchemy to transform that material, or, in human terms, to perform conversion.

United States represents 11% of the total K-12 school population (US Department of Education http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=65 ), and obviously not all of these represent a non-normative educational philosophy. Montessori enrollment may include as many as 0.3% of US K-12 students according to data from a variety of sources. Enrollment in Ivy League universities totals 0.2% of US university undergraduates - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivy_League - (a number only slightly larger than the undergraduate enrollment at Arizona State University alone), and if all ‘similar’ and otherwise nontraditional higher education options were combined the total seems likely to fall no higher than 10 times that, or 2%.

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Making the argument If education operates as if it were a path to salvation, how does one fight against that in an implicitly Christian culture? If educators see themselves as people who enlighten, who bring truth, who offer perfection and the security of future acceptance, how does anyone convince them of the damage done to human beings by those who seek to bring others to their ‘true path’? If education occurs in a modernist context, with a belief in both the perfectability of humanity and the desire for that, how is it possible to offer a counter hypothesis? Forty years after the “French Theories” of post-modernism and deconstruction began to filter into American discourse, the attempts to break free of this modernist path to salvation remain both highly controversial and largely unfulfilled. The fact that these theories remain so threatening seems proof of the strength of the Protestant Modernist cosmology. When The New York Times devotes 5,400 words (plus voluminous responses to readers) to Stanley Fish’s recursive loop disproving the value and impact of these ideas and their supporters four decades later (while deeply lamenting the damage done),28 it is clear that any suggestion of breaking with the inherited American belief system is considered a major threat to the national system of values. The strongest form of condemnation is dismissal, whether that is to label “liberal” thinking as “bleeding heart,” or Fish’s final declaration that, “Not only does deconstruction not threaten anything or deliver anything, it doesn’t change anything. This is not to say that it is useless, just that its uses are properly confined to the ongoing conversation about epistemology in which it is a participant.”29 But the theories of deconstruction may represent the only route beyond the educational missionary position. A point articulated by an anonymous “Derick” responding to Fish on The Times’ web site. “One more thought,” he notes, “showing that positions are socially constructed doesn’t invalidate them, of course, since every position is. But it does something else, which I think has been left out of this discussion: it suggests that because a position is socially constructed, it may be open to change. Certainly the change will come through the work of interpretive communities, evaluating evidence & so on, as SF argues here. But the revelation that statements that seem “natural” are social products is itself potentially liberating, because it suggests the ‘possibility’ of alternatives, even if it does not — in and of itself — disprove such statements.” He continues, “Also, understanding ‘how’ statements are socially constructed can suggest strategies for transforming them. Again, the political struggles will not simply be aimed at showing their social constructedness, but an analysis grounded in a social constructivist or deconstructionist epistemology opens up a different front for exposing weaknesses in the arguments of one’s opponents and formulating counter-positions (witness Lakoff’s work on framing for a more tangible example).” This seems the essential path, but the walking of that path is the difficult thing. For despite Fish’s fears that deconstructionist philosophies undermined the scholarship of modernists (“Ph.D’s trained in fields that were no longer hiring; scholars who could no longer get their work published, programs that died on the vine because students stopped

flocking to them, students who were force-fed a bunch of stuff they couldn’t digest.”30), any impact of post-modernist thinkers on undergraduate pre-service teachers seems more than undone by the structure of teacher education programs, devoted as they are to “best practices,” and “scientifically proven solutions,” as well as by a culture led by teachereducators who act, more often than not, as preparers of missionaries – committed as they are themselves to the transformational power of American education.

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Popkewitz says that, “The school was to act as a moral technology, not merely inculcating obedience, but also seeking to shape personality through the child's emulation of the teacher, through the use of pastoral techniques to encourage self-knowledge and enhance the feeling of sympathetic identification, through establishing the links between virtue, honesty, and self-denial and a purified pleasure. (Rose, 1989, p. 223) Whereas previous pedagogies sought truth in divine providence, "modern" pedagogical knowledge combined certain religious views about salvation with scientific dispositions toward truth and the rational governing of the self. Schooling was a program of disciplining and training the political and social capacities of the democratic citizen (Hunter, 1994, pp. 152-163). Children were to be redeemed – rescued and saved – by making them productive citizens (Baker, 1998; Popkewitz, 1996).31 In other words, to challenge this missionary orthodoxy most of the a priori “knowns” of teachers – and especially teachers-to-be – must be challenged. They must be proven to be social constructs and the philosophies which are the foundation of the social constructs must be exposed. Not to prove that they are wrong, but so that they can be compared, considered, and understood. And we must bring this deconstruction to the teachers and teachers-to-be at the place where their folk psychology and folk pedagogy meet their current developmental moment, as Vygotsky would expect those teachers to bring their pedagogy to each student’s development zone. “[T]o say only that human beings understand other minds and try to teach the incompetent is to overlook the varied ways in which teaching occurs in different cultures. The variety is stunning. We need to know much more about this diversity if we are to appreciate the relation between folk psychology and folk pedagogy in different cultural settings. Understanding this relationship becomes particularly urgent in addressing issues of educational reform. For once we recognize that a teacher's conception of a learner shapes the instruction he or she employs, then equipping teachers (or parents) with the best available theory of the child's mind becomes crucial. And in the process of doing that, we also need to provide teachers with some insight about their own folk theories that guide their teaching.”32 (Bruner, 1996. pp. 48-49) Høeg attempts this act by the construction of the natural empathy for the orphaned children we meet first in his book. Peter and Katarina evoke first sympathy and then

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understanding because of their circumstances. Only when he has pulled the reader deeply into this engagement does he bring on the philosophical and historical backgrounds, and even then, he does this in the voice of the abused child. First, this holds the reader because it is a trusted voice speaking. Second, it challenges the reader to learn at least what this unfortunate child has learned. When Høeg springs his first trap, the introduction of a child character who might normally elicit no sympathy, the readers are forced to view him not through their own eyes but through Peter’s. When Høeg springs his second trap, proving the absurdity of modernist educational theories, readers are caught because they have been dragged into viewing the problem from a cultural viewpoint entirely unlike their own. “I believe that Biehl's Academy was the last possible point in three hundred years of scientific development. At that place only linear time was permitted, all life and teaching at the school was arranged in accordance with this-the school buildings, environment, teachers, pupils, kitchens, plants, equipment, and everyday life were a mobile machine, a symbol of linear time. “We stood on the edge, we had reached the limit. For how far you could, with the instrument of time, push human nature. “And then it was bound to go wrong.” 33 (Høeg, 1993. pp. 260-261) Bruner attempts to open these teacher/learners up these kinds of investigations in part by appealing to vanity. Those studying other subjects, he suggests, are ahead of you and you must catch up. In a way this is leveraging some old Protestant techniques in the cause of their demolition – that, “first generation of New England Puritans required that church members undergo a conversion experience that they could describe publicly,”34 and now ‘public conversion,’ in this case psychologists showing educators the way, will be used help start to break the old ties. “There is one "presenting problem" that is always with us in dealing with teaching and learning, one that is so pervasive, so constant, so much part of the fabric of living, that we often fail to notice it, fail even to discover itmuch as in the proverb "the fish will be the last to discover water." It is the issue of how human beings achieve a meeting of minds, expressed by teachers usually as "how do I reach the children?" or by children as "what's she trying to get at?" This is the classic problem of Other Minds, as it was originally called in philosophy, and its relevance to education has mostly been overlooked until very recently. In the last decade it has become a topic of passionate interest and intense research among psychologists, particularly those interested in development. It is what this chapter is about – the application of this new work to the process of education. To a degree almost entirely overlooked by anti-subjective behaviorists in the past, our interactions with others are deeply affected by our everyday intuitive theories about how other minds work. These

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theories, rarely made explicit, are omnipresent but have only recently been subjected to intense study.”35 (Bruner, 1996. pp. 45-46) Popkewitz’s idea is another route. He brings the teacher into the student’s boat, pointing out how they are caught within the same system. This seems an attempt to get teachers to reach beyond the assumed causes of their discontent, in order to see systemic issues rather than failures of performance or faith. “The redemptive theme is no longer merely to save the child but also to remake the soul of the new teacher. The strategies appear as constructivist pedagogies that emphasize a decentralized, local teacher. The rhetorical stance is exemplified in the teaching of science and mathematics. Teachers and children, for example, are viewed as participating in the construction of knowledge as active individuals who produce, modify, and integrate ideas. … When the reform strategies are more closely examined, the governing of the soul emerges as the personification of professionalism and the professional. The teacher is a redemptive agent who embodies and imparts the norms of policy and research. The argument about giving coherence to state policies is intertwined with the self-regulatory capabilities of the teacher – the "teachers' knowledge, their professional values and commitments, and the social resources of practice" (Cohen, 1995, p. 16). The teachers "are the agents on whom policy must rely to solve that problem, for unless they learn much more about the subjects they teach, and devise new approaches to instruction, most students' learning will not change" (Cohen, 1995, p. 13).”36 (Popkewitz, 1998) These three strategies all appear to have their value, but perhaps they would be most effective in combination, assuming a carefully constructed order of introduction and a commitment to recycling through the techniques as the teacher/learners slowly begin to deconstruct their world. I might suggest beginning with the kind of fictional and involving narrative that Høeg’s Borderliners represents, or I might start on an even more emotional (and accessible) level with Tim Burton’s film Edward Scissorhands, with questions targeted at the actions of Diane Wiest’s portrayal of “Peg.” The actions of society in this film – and thus by proxy the structure of American education – are clearly villainous, but “Peg,” in her representation of the teacher, forces an early look at all the questions of conversion. Would the reading of Borderliners be changed by the experience of Edward Scissorhands? Possibly. Would the reading of Popkewitz become more urgent once Borderliners was absorbed? This is likely. Might Bruner be paired with a more concrete narrative, such as Lisa Delpit’s Other People’s Children,37 allowing richer analysis based in recognizable situations? Should a book like Delpit’s (and thus Bruner’s) follow Høeg and Popkewitz to ensure that these discussions do not become mired in the a priori knowledge of race in America? I would suggest, yes. The priesthood, the ministry, missionary work, and teaching all come out of the same

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tradition in western culture. They are all evangelical occupations, dedicated to the transmission of culture, the saving of souls, the betterment of society. In Protestant cultures they go one significant step further, with all functioning to divide the world between those who are saved and those who are not, with the expectation that the trials of faith (or the tests of education) will separate the worthy from the unworthy. Any chance to separate the missionary position from education thus requires challenging the most engrained assumptions, the purest a priori knowledge, of the Protestant culture. One must doubt progress, doubt the certainty of faith, and doubt the nature of salvation in order to begin to push beyond this boundary which traps teachers (as Popkewitz says) and destroys children (as Høeg suggests). That probably requires a reconsideration of the entire American school curriculum, but it must at least start with a reconsideration of what it is important to devote time to in a teacher education program. Certainly a single course in multiculturalism can not offer students the opportunities they need to begin to dig through lifelong assumptions. Obviously courses which suggest “best pedagogical practices for student achievement” are likely to reinforce, not deconstruct, the Protestant/Modernist “right path” assumptions. Only with those beliefs in doubt can teachers begin to find another path, which suggests that what they now see as the greatest of their gifts to children, their faith and their persistence, are the things which pose the greatest dangers to the children who are, or will be, in their care. “Of course, there were schools elsewhere, too, this I know. But surely no place with a vision such as Biehl's. “Elsewhere, in other countries, they have held children in the grip of time, for a while they have held them. But, in time, those children who could not cope, or whose parents did not have the wherewithal, were given up, dropped. “But Biehl would not give up on anyone, that was the exceptional thingmaybe the exceptional thing about Denmark. They would not entertain the thought that some pupils were down there, in darkness. They did not want to know anything about the darkness, everything in the universe had to be light. With the knife of light they would scrape the darkness clean. “It is as though that thought was almost insane.”38 (Høeg, 1993. p. 227)

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1

Barger, R. N. (Editor) History of American Education Web Project,University of Notre Dame. Prepared by Kay Kizer http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/puritans.html Prepared by Amy L. Matzat http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/masslaws.html Accessed 15 Jun 2004 3:48 pm. 2 United States Department of Education. A Nation at Risk: The imperative for Educational Reform. 1983. http://www.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk/index.html 3 United States Department of Education. Public Law 107-110-Jan. 8, 2002. 115 Stat. 1425 http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/107-110.pdf 4 United States Chamber of Commerce web site. http://www.uschamber.com/issues/index/education/nclb.htm 5 Barger, R. N. (Editor) History of American Education Web Project,University of Notre Dame. Prepared by Kay Kizer http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/puritans.html Prepared by Amy L. Matzat http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/masslaws.html Accessed 15 Jun 2004 3:48 pm. 6 Wolk, Ron. Perspective: Way off Course. Teacher Magazine. 1 October 2004. http://www.teachermagazine.org/tm/articles/2004/10/01/02persp.h16.html 7 Teachers Network. Survey: No Child Left Behind. 2007. http://www.teachersnetwork.org/tnli/survey_highlights.htm 8 Popkewitz, T. The culture of redemption and the administration of freedom as research. Review of Educational Research. Washington: Spring 1998. Vol. 68, Iss. 1. 9 Bruner, J. The Culture of Education. 1996. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA. p. 28. 10 Bruner, J. The Culture of Education. 1996. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA. p. 48-49. 11 “enlighten students” search via Google on 12 April 2008 at 1:48 am. 12 Arpe, M. Book Review: Borderliners. Toronto Star, 1995. various web citations. 13 Barger, R. N. (Editor) History of American Education Web Project,University of Notre Dame. Prepared by Kay Kizer http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/puritans.html Prepared by Amy L. Matzat http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/masslaws.html Accessed 15 Jun 2004 3:48 pm. 14 Bruner, J. The Culture of Education. 1996. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA. p. 46-47. 15 Wikipedia. Calvinism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinism 27 April 2008 8:48 am 16 Ravitch, D. American Traditions of Education. A Primer on American Schools. 2000. Hoover Institute, Palo Alto, CA. pp. 8-9. http://media.hoover.org/documents/0817999426_1.pdf 17 Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Horace Mann, the End of Free Market Education, and the Rise of Government Schools. 2001. http://www.mackinac.org/print.aspx?ID=3256 18 Popkewitz, T. The culture of redemption and the administration of freedom as research. Review of Educational Research. Washington: Spring 1998. Vol. 68, Iss. 1. 19 Høeg, P. Borderliners. [De måske egnede] 1993 as translated by Barbara Haveland, 1994. Dell, New York. 1995 pp. 255-256. 20 Popkewitz, T. The culture of redemption and the administration of freedom as research. Review of Educational Research. Washington: Spring 1998. Vol. 68, Iss. 1. 21 Bruner, J. The Culture of Education. 1996. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA. p. 46. 22 Goldin, C. NBER Working Paper Series on Historical Factors in Long Run Growth: A Brief History of Education in the United States. National Bureau of Economic Research. Cambridge, 1999 http://www.economics.harvard.edu/~goldin/papers/history_of_edu.pdf. Accessed 9 November 2005 2:09 pm 23 Wikipedia. Calvinism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinism 27 April 2008 8:48 am 24 Fiske, E. A Nation at Loss. The New York Times. 25 April 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/25/opinion/25fiske.html 25 Ravitch, D. American Traditions of Education. A Primer on American Schools. 2000. Hoover Institute, Palo Alto, CA. p. 13. http://media.hoover.org/documents/0817999426_1.pdf 26 Fiske, E. A Nation at Loss. The New York Times. 25 April 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/25/opinion/25fiske.html 27 Lareau, A. Home Advantage. 2000. Rowan and Littlefield. Lanham, MD. as an example. 28 Fish, S. French Theory in America and French Theory in America, Part II. The New York Times. 6 April 2008 http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/french-theory-in-america/ and 20 April 2008

Ira David Socol Pushing Past the Missionary Position TE 924 – Spring 2008 Page 17 http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/french-theory-in-america-part-two/ 29 Fish, S. French Theory in America Part II. The New York Times. 20 April 2008 http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/french-theory-in-america-part-two/ 30 Fish, S. French Theory in America Part II. The New York Times. 20 April 2008 http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/french-theory-in-america-part-two/ 31 Popkewitz, T. The culture of redemption and the administration of freedom as research. Review of Educational Research. Washington: Spring 1998. Vol. 68, Iss. 1. 32 Bruner, J. The Culture of Education. 1996. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA. p. 48-49. 33 Høeg, P. Borderliners. [De måske egnede] 1993 as translated by Barbara Haveland, 1994. Dell, New York. 1995 pp. 260-261. 34 Library of Congress. Religion and the Founding of the American Republic. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel02.html 35 Bruner, J. The Culture of Education. 1996. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA. p. 45-46. 36 Popkewitz, T. The culture of redemption and the administration of freedom as research. Review of Educational Research. Washington: Spring 1998. Vol. 68, Iss. 1. 37 Delpit, L. Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom. 1995. The New Press. New York. 38 Høeg, P. Borderliners. [De måske egnede] 1993 as translated by Barbara Haveland, 1994. Dell, New York. 1995 p. 227.

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Library of Congress. Religion and the Founding of the American Republic. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel02.html National Center for Educational Statistics. Fast Facts: What are the enrollment trends in public and private elementary and secondary schools? U.S. Department of Education. 2006. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=65 Popkewitz, T. S.. The culture of redemption and the administration of freedom as research. Review of Educational Research. Washington: Spring 1998. Vol. 68, Iss. 1; pg. 1, 34 pgs Ravitch, D. American Traditions of Education. A Primer on American Schools. 2000. Hoover Institute, Palo Alto, CA. p. http://media.hoover.org/documents/0817999426_1.pdf United States Census Bureau, School Enrollment in the United States. March 2001. http://www.census.gov/prod/2001pubs/p20-533.pdf United States Department of Education. A Nation at Risk: The imperative for Educational Reform. 1983. http://www.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk/index.html United States Department of Education. Public Law 107-110-Jan. 8, 2002. 115 Stat. 1425 http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/107-110.pdf

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