This titillatingly subtitled article offers a possible evolutionary basis for the feminist cultural practice of birth control at the end. Neat!
Here is a great interview with Dr. Ibrahim X. Kendi, whose book, How to Become an Antiracist Parent was featured on Multicultural Kid Blogs. Normally, as the blog’s title suggests this site has a bunch of resources for parents raising children across various language and cultural backgrounds. But this is the first time I’ve seen an up-front conversation about racism on the site (I might have missed one, just saying). So, Kudos to Multicultural Kid Blogs for inviting Dr. Kendi to have this conversation.
I’m having to create a sort of “educational autobiography” for the class I am helping teach this fall. I’ll post the slideshow presentation I’ve been working on to go with it sometime soon. I bring it up because I’ve been thinking about several of the moments from my political education when I might have come away more conscious– more “woke,” in the naive sense– or “radicalized,” as Atlantic contributor Derecka Purnell put it in a recent discussion hosted by Haymarket Books. I have had a few of these moments. Certainly, over a decade living outside the U.S. as a white, cis-male, English-speaker from a middle-class Protestant background has been eye-opening.
Before moving to Hiroshima, Japan in 2008, at the age of 24, I had only left the southeastern U.S. a handful of times. The first time was a month-long stay in Australia accompanying my father, who was a software engineer. The second and third were Caribbean cruises with my high school band and my family. The fourth was my junior year at Duke University with the student Christian congregation I was active with there. A group of us went on a 10-day “study pilgrimage” to Jerusalem, Israel, and parts of the West Bank including Bethlehem. We read scriptures of the Abrahamic faiths, including Gnostic books, and other historical texts that would shed light on the pre-Biblical and indigenous cultures of the so-called “Holy Lands” of Israel and Palestine: the West Bank and Gaza. We also read United Nations pamphlets and and informational booklets distributed by Amnesty International about the political history and ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region. But nothing could prepare me for what we would see in East Jerusalem– 30-foot concrete barriers sprayed with “Bush built this wall!”– a reference to then-President George W. Bush’s support for the barrier variously referred to as, “Apartheid Wall,” or “Security Fence” on TV (depending on your news source).
I was there in the days before the election of Mahmoud Abbas as President of Palestine in the wake of Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004. On two memorable occasions I witnessed Israeli Military harassing civilians in East Jerusalem. One old woman, wearing a head covering and carrying a grocery bag was chased down a hill away from a section of the concrete wall that had been built down the center of the road in front of a small convenience store in a suburb. On another occasion, near an entrance to the Old City, a handful of armed Israeli soldiers passed through the crowded market street brandishing their assault rifles and shouting for people to get out of the way. I was obviously witnessing a kind of bullying. But this was not the schoolyard. These bullies had the full force of two of the world’s most brutal imperial armies to back them up.
Near the end of our “study pilgrimage,” my fellow pilgrim-students and I had the opportunity to stay with a group of Bedouin people in the Negev desert. The Bedouin are a nomadic indigenous group who are among the lesser-known victims of American-Israeli policies in the region, as their camel- and goat-herding lands are further and further reduced, polluted by, among other sources, nuclear waste from the Dimona nuclear reactor and the Negev Nuclear Research Center.
I remember very vividly the troubled night’s sleep I got in that tent out in the desert. The midnight walkabout. The perfect darkness of the land illuminated only by starlight. These people, our hosts were not Muslims, nor Christians, nor Jews, but had a complex of beliefs and traditions all their own. Yet they were drawn in to the cycles of suffering produced by Israel’s policies just as deeply and consequentially as their Muslim and Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters. They represented to me the margin of the margin of the margin of society.
I was having a crisis of faith because I felt that Christianity in the forms I was used to it being practiced, simply offered no answer for the Bedouin or the Palestinians I was meeting and interacting with; there was only a desert purgatory, no state, no rights, just poor landless people brushed to the side again and again. I think I saw my religion then more truly than I had to that point, as an instrument of the pain and oppression that I had ostensibly come on this pilgrimage to learn how to begin to eliminate in the first place! WTF!?
I don’t remember the exact timing– It may well have been the very next day– when one of our group leaders leaned over to me and said in a hushed tone at breakfast, “That guy over there is Mordecai Vanunu, the Dimona whistle blower!” I had no idea who Vanunu was at the time. I humored my group leader who seemed kind of starstruck, and followed her over to chat with my breakfast tray. Vanunu, a political prisoner, I later learned, for leaking proof of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, had just finished serving the last year of his original 18-year prison sentence, but had essentially been placed under a kind of house-arrest on the campus of St. George’s College, where I was staying with my group from Duke.
He was a quiet man, an Israeli convert to Christianity, who seemed desperate to escape Israel and go to work at a university somewhere– “maybe M.I.T.,” I remember Vanunu offering. But Vanunu remains in Israel, a prisoner of conscience, as identified by Amnesty International, denied even the use of a computer or mobile phone since 2015, according to wikipedia.org.
Vanunu was and is a symbol for me of a powerful and powerfully human revolutionary praxis, one which does not rely on religious fervor alone for fuel and inspiration, but which is equally sourced in empirical knowledge of the grave dangers and environmental impacts posed by even the so-called, “peaceful,” nuclear programs like Israel’s. And Vanunu has more or less stoically endured his harassment, imprisonment, and torture, including a brutal 11-year stint in solitary confinement!
Martyr is a highly politically charged word these days with religious extremists of all stripes dominating the mainstream narratives of history unfolding in the Middle East. Indeed, as a student of these issues, and an official graduate of my own “study pilgrimage” I have often avoided such words as means of avoiding miscommunication or deepening felt division. Righteous and peaceful as his actions were, Vanunu must have imagined the consequences he would face; and yet he acted. I see Vanunu’s bravery and conviction, matched daily by comrades in prison around the globe, those prisoners of conscience who are denied their right to free speech, to free movement, and to associate freely with whomever they choose, as equivalent to those of the martyrs and chivalrous knights and crusaders who populated my moral imagination from such a young age.
Mordechai Vanunu is nothing if not a powerful symbol of the consequences of empire run amok: American and Zionist Israeli empire in all its brute force. His story is a painful reminder of the injustice of prison as an institution, and states’ use of violence to silence dissent. When our paths crossed in early 2005 at St. George’s College in Jerusalem, it seemed like a coincidence. But the ensuing fifteen years have shown how central social justice activism, especially nuclear non-proliferation, would become in my personal consciousness and in my professional life as a teacher.
I have only just recently made my way back to the Imperial Core, the United States, after twelve years abroad in Japan and Canada, and this first experience of radicalization, the beginning of my grasp of the problem at the root, as Professor Angela Davis has it, of the cruel habit of Empire: Capitalism.
Indians, the original possessors of the land, seem to haunt the collective unconscious of the white man and to the degree that one can identify the conflicting images of the Indian which stalk the white man’s waking perceptions of the world one can outline the deeper problems of identity and alienation that trouble him….Underneath all the conflicting images of the Indian one fundamental truth emerges-the white man knows that he is an alien and he knows that North America is Indian-and he will never let go of the Indian image because he thinks that by some clever manipulation he can achieve an authenticity that cannot ever be his.
-Vine Deloria, Jr., “American Fantasy”
I’ve begun reading Huhndorf’s book, which I found somewhere I think through the UW library. It’s a nice pdf of the full text of the book. Something tells me I’ve read part of this book before, specifically the chapter that covers The Education of Little Tree and the Asa / Forrest Carter Hoax. But for now, I’ve only listened to the introduction and part of the first chapter, which deals with the combined spectacle of some important mass entertainment events like the American Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia.
Decolonizing Historical methods are still so new a topic to me that I really feel like I ought to become more familiar with in the next months both on my own in individual study or through courses at UW. One introductory course that I am taking for my program has only one reading listed on the website so far, but it’s a doozy: Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s classic, Decolonizing Methodologies. So, I went ahead and ordered that one. I think I’ll do a quick skim and short write-up here if I have time. And then, over the course of the term, I’ll be able to grapple with and or digest this one at greater length.
For now, I’ve done a rough rendering of this pdf into a simple text format which my mac will read back to me at what I’m finding is a mostly intelligible speed and cadence.
The way you can go
isn’t the real way.
The name you can say
isn’t the real name.
Heaven and earth
begin in the unnamed:
name’s the mother
of the ten thousand things.
So the unwanting soul
sees what’s hidden,
and the ever-wanting soul
sees only what it wants.
Two things, one origin,
but different in name,
whose identity is mystery.
Mystery of all mysteries!
The door to the hidden.
“Teacher Unions” from Ross and Mathieson, 2008, Battleground Schools.
One of the most useful pieces I’ve had the pleasure of reading all summer. I don’t know why I didn’t think about it earlier, but after briefly reconnecting with the author and editor of this piece last week, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the article within this interesting handbook of various school controversies that have been fought out over the past century or so in the United States. I had been looking for a pithy summary of teachers unionism in America. And here I’ve found one, practically right under my nose!
The timeline in this entry and elsewhere in Battleground Schools are a boon for a newcomer to union history like me. Major figures, their biographies and their contributions to the arguments at hand appear frequently in these pages to make this an engaging survey. The story begins with a Texas school board member and former US Secretary of the Department of Education, Rod Paige, who in 2004 called teachers’ unions terrorist organizations. Then it flashes back to Ella Flagg Young, the first woman president of the NEA; and finally to Albert Shanker, President of the United Federation of Teachers and harbinger, for Ross, of the new “company unionism” that has begun to dominate all corners of American education sector labor.
A very interesting thread that I want to pick up on is what Ross identifies as Labor Imperialism, or the tendency for powerful labor unions to ally with national interests in government as well as industry in order to carry out imperialist projects on educational fronts. This idea would seem to converge with or reiterate in some respects Phillipson’s Linguistic Imperialism. And indeed, this is an idea that might be worth drawing out through further research. But I wonder how these conflicts that seemed to involve unions played out for instance, in Arizona where powerful economic interests were variously allied with or at odds with government in the formation of the schools there. What indeed was the role that teachers played in the early days of Arizona’s schools? Were there demonstrations in solidarity with the revolutionaries to the south in Mexico, who boasted of plans to liberate those lands stolen in the wake of America’s early devastating colonial war with Mexico?
Anyway, this is a great essay, which I easily imagine using in teacher ed., or as a yardstick for my own research into the history of education across the United States and beyond!
August 24, 2020
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): The rapper named Viper has released over
1,000 albums. In 2014 alone, he created 347. His most popular work is
You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack, which has received over three
million views on Youtube. According to The Chicago Reader, one of
Viper’s most appealing features is his “blatant disregard for grammar.” I
should also mention that he regards himself as the second Christ, and uses
the nickname “Black Jesus.” So what does any of this have to do with you?
Well, I’m recommending that you be as prolific, in your own field, as he
is in his. I’m also inviting you to experiment with having a fun-loving
disregard for grammar and other non-critical rules. And I would love to
see you temporarily adopt some of his over-the-top braggadocio.
DeLeon & Ross, Eds. Critical Theories, Radical Pedagogies, and Social Education (Sense Publishers, 2010).
Gibson’s sweeping “Inquiry” into the titular question of this chapter is an interesting, if sometimes irreverent, or perhaps purposefully playful look at schooling in the U.S. in 2010 from a variety of angles. Gibson is a professor at San Diego State University whose writing I have become familiar with through a possibly now defunct online periodical known as the Rouge Forum. But Gibson has also contributed to magazines like CounterPunch, which I frequently read as well. Also, an essay of Gibson’s about Paulo Freire– actually a sort of “critical intellectual history” I think he called it, has really shaped how I think about liberation theology in education and Freire’s “Critical Education” movement as well.
The title of this chapter alone should reveal much of Gibson’s theoretical critical framework. Gibson affixes the beam of Marxist critical inquiry firmly on the institution of education: its past and present rooted in “capitalist democracy,” a term, which he then thoroughly deconstructs as part of his inquiry, and a potentially violent revolutionary future.
Among the most useful sections in this chapter to me were Gibson’s overview of teachers unionism in the United States at present, by the numbers, and also episodically to illustrate the pervasiveness of corruption that Gibson says is the hallmark of these large unions, which are themselves among some of the largest unions in the country. I will be able to go deeper with my teachers union history with a piece that Wayne Ross and Sandra Mathieson published around the same time as this one I believe. Stay tuned. Likewise, this volume I got from Wayne, which focuses broadly on radical social studies pedagogy, should have a bunch of other good essays to look at maybe later this week.
Micro-Review: From Student Markets to Credential Markets: The Creation of the Regents Examination System in New York State, 1864-1890 by Nancy Beadie (HEQ, Vol. 39, No. 1, Spring 1999, pp. 1-30)
Well, it’s really happening. I am finally going to be enrolling in a doctoral program in History of Education at the University of Washington. The two History of Ed. Professors there are Joy Williamson-Lott, and Nancy Beadie, both of whom I have now been in contact with, if briefly. But in two weeks I have a meeting scheduled with Dr. Beadie to discuss next steps for me as I gear up to move to Seattle and get started with this. So, with these big changes as the backdrop, I’ve been anxious to get started reading and thinking more specifically about the kinds of research I’ll be able to do at UW as well as the kinds of questions I’ll be best supported in asking with my research by Dr. Beadie and Dr. Williamson-Lott.
In my digging around for papers that would give me a clearer picture of what Dr. Beadie’s research is about, I came across this one, now more than 20 years old, in the History of Education Quarterly Archives. Dr. Beadie was the Editor of that journal as recently as last year, I believe, and she still plays an active role in the History of Education Society, a group which I should very likely be joining in the not too distant future. This article was identified in a retrospective of HEQ pieces voted most representative of the periodical over the 50 years from 1960 to 2010. It’s a piece that seems to link Dr. Beadie’s research track along the line of private schools and academies in North America from the 18th century into the 19th century, with her main current area of research of educational markets and the emergence of educational systems in States. The piece focuses on the State of New York. And it is an institutional history, that is the research is focused on the governance of and demographic impact of the New York Board of Regents, establishment of a system of secondary examinations in the late 1860s. These Board of Regents Exams comprise the United States’ oldest regime of standardized testing. But at the heart of the significance of this new educational technology, the State-wide standardized test, Beadie argues, is a credential marketplace, which replaced, the student marketplace that colleges in North American had relied on to that pointi.
The significance of the creation of this new kind of market is in the analysis and conclusions it allows historians to make about the scarcity of education during this time period and the impact of that scarcity both locally and across jurisdictions in a region. So, not only are local politicians and education administrators suddenly on the hook for greater access to these credentials, but individuals could essentially trade on them for access to college education. What remains unclear from Beadie’s analysis is a clarification of the reason for or in Beadie’s words, “chronology” of the initial implementation of the Board of Regents’ policies. Beadie shows that the new exams came in the wake of a long decrease in public school enrollment. And interestingly, demographic analysis of New York high school graduates of the late 19th century, women were the greatest beneficiaries of this new credential system. But I have a hard time imagining that achieving a greater level of gender parity of students qualified for college was what the New York Board of Regents had in mind when they implemented this policy to begin with.
So, to connect this back to my initial concerns about finding a suitable home for the research I want to do as a grad student, I am impressed by the logical moves that institutional histories like these are able to make from demographic data, but I hope that my research will be able to bring a more human face to findings like these. Actually, on that note, I want to re-read another article from the HEQ that Beadie wrote I believe with Kim Tolley, another past HEQ editor, I believe, that dealt with some letters from a New York teacher who traveled to North Carolina to become a school teacher during the late 19th century. This may be a better fit in terms of the type of history I want to be writing. It’s very important to me to center teachers as powerful decision makers in communities, especially when they are acting in solidarity with their communities towards social justice aims. But, of course, this teacher agency only comes into play against the backdrop of the larger social-political and economic universe of schooling. I guess, sometimes its even at odds with the direction these larger forces are pushing. In the case of this Board of Regents creation of a new market, a set of policies, which is dubious, at best, given the rampant standardized testing of the present day, actually seems to have worked in favor of the masses of New Yorkers, and women in particular, at least in the short-term.
iNote: I’m curious, how did student markets function prior to the invention of such credential markets. Were they more like labor markets? I can see how, on its face, the credential is different from the student, but the credential cannot really be separated from the student. It has no exchange value, so to speak. It’s only value appears to be vis-a-vis the individual student who obtains it. So, this is a point of further study for me.