Saturday, November 12, 2005

31] Deconstructing Ralph Tyler's Curriculum Ideology

ON THE DECONSTRUCTION OF RALPH TYLER’S BASIC CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION by: AZLY RAHMAN Ralph Tyler’s work Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction must be understood within its milieu; a time wherein schooling in America is at its stabilizing “cruise gear” in response to the demands of the Industrial Revolution. The ideology of schooling as a mass babysitting enterprise to produce good workers for the then emerging corporate America of Ford, Chrysler, Exxon, Texaco and the merge of enterprises within the democracy of the military industrial complex is seemingly in natural obedience with the scientific management ideology of Frederick Taylor. The cult of efficiency was beginning to be dominant embodying the tune of Walt Rostow’s economic ideology of The Five Stages of Growth; of which the nation was at its post take-off stage. Tyler’s seemingly Deweyian approach if one is to read it superficially nonetheless has its fundamental flow in the assumption if we analyze it within the critical theory perspective; of which the work of The Frankfurt School was then beginning the be developed at the same time scientific management was. First, the assumption that the body of knowledge to be passed through the disciplines within the Tylerian curriculum context, presumed its neutrality. Knowledge is never neutral; it is preconditioned by its philosophy and politics and produced by those who owns the means of production. They take the name “facts” and in some instance, oxymoronically passed down as historical facts. Second, the Tylerian curriculum presumes that the learner can be “banked” of the facts for them are merely tabula rasas to be disciplined and socially reproduced in an input-output condition within the structural functionalist point of view. The controversy the radical humanistic view of the existentialists or Marxist humanists who believe that learner can be conceived as critical beings who can see experiences dialectically and who are in the process of “being and becoming”. Third, the locus of control in the Tylerian tradition lies in the state and delegated to Committee members so that curriculum interpretation is held at the minimum and state ideology is disseminated top-down. Culture is to be reproduced as industry; culture of science and industry, Hellenistic tradition, the bourgeoisie interpretation of American history and the attitudes of the mythical Horatio Alger and the utilitarian view of democracy. Conflict paradigm and Habermasian ideologiekritik if applied to the analysis of this locus of control should reveal the “constituted human interest” and “supremacy of the cult of efficiency” in the intent of the curriculum within the human capital mould. Fourth, teachers are given some freedom in getting involved in implementing curriculum through the freedom of Committees overseen by “experts”. They are then merely functional or instrumental intellectual and agents of social reproduction for the military-industrial complex supporting the hegemony of the dominant (very) few. There is no room to develop as “committed” intellectuals in the Gramscian sense or to become mediators and communicators of the contradictions of the ideology of capitalist formation then. Teaching was not, in the Tylerian milieu, to become a subversive act; it merely is a functionalist and status quo maintaining profession. Last but not least, Tyler’s curriculum is linear, one-dimensional, logically arranged and excessively frameworked. In this modern world wherein kaleidoscopic, holistic, autogenic and metaphoric approaches to looking at knowledge and information is the emerging norm, the Tylerian view is no longer adequate. Our milieu and that of Tyler is radically different in many ways. Half a century has brought advancements in virtually all known human disciplines with information exploding every second. The view that Human Beings preside and have control over nature, that History is “his story, that the mind is a chemical – biological construct functioning along stimulus-response principles, that “grand narrative” reign over subaltern voices, and that education must be conceived as an input-output process of mass-industrial socialization by the state (“the state as a necessary evil”) – all these are beginning to wither. We are entering another ideological construct wherein reality is constantly being invented and reinvented, wherein the distinction between the Surreal and the Real blurs and is changing our fundamental concept of what curriculum is, why should it be arranged as such, how can its alternative organization be and towards what ends should it serve. With reference to the five criticisms of the Tylerian concept of curriculum, it must be summarized that first, we act on imperfect knowledge and no one possesses the truth and all knowledge is propaganda and “knowledge”, “information” and truth are three distinct entities; second, the learner is an existential being who possess socially-constructed knowledge personalistic in nature and any attempt to bank and deposit concepts may alter the natural growth of his existential-ness. He/she is born free and ought to remain so; third, our milieu demands us to decentralize and disintegrate the locus of control in order for us to answer the question who should govern and why should we be governed (by curriculum as authority); fourth; teachers are existential beings who help give birth to learning and in the process become learners themselves attempting to subjectivize objectivities; and fifth, the human mind is complex and its capacity to know is much bigger than the physical universe it occupies. Our role is to deconstruct the meaning of work and phrases in Tyler’s writing. They are “no longer his”. They are “now ours” as we personalistically should give ourselves the freedom not to reinterpret what Tyler has prescribed. The once Tylerian view must then be scrutinized, broken apart, and examined from a variety of lens powerful enough to give one own meaning to what basic principles of curriculum and instruction means. Perhaps this would be a first step in our understanding of the differences between “facts”, “information, “knowledge” and “truth” so that through our understanding of what curriculum means, one may be able to differentiate what “schooling”, “training”, “educating”, and “liberation” means. The atomistic and mechanistic view of these concepts as well as the Tylerian notion of curriculum must then be deconstructed.

30] A Postmodern Reading of Dewey

ON DOING A POSTMODERN READING OF DEWEY’S EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE by AZLY RAHMAN One of the most challenging exercises in analysis and reflection of and upon a monumental educational philosophical text such as John Dewey’s Education and Experience is to look at what education means within the contemporary perspective of post modernism which forces one to look at issues such as freedom, intelligence, knowledge, power, class, control ideology, and human destiny. The challenge comes from allying with Dewey’s “process philosophy” paradigm which attempts to mediate cultural continuity and futurism on the one hand and to deconstruct entirely the meaning of education on the other so that process philosophy may no longer become tenable in this era of “change, complexity, competition and chaos.” It is to be remembered that Deweyian “pragmatism” is an evolution of the idea championed by William James and Charles Sanders Pierce and essentially American in character as opposed to the transcendentalism of the European and Continental philosophy of Immanuel Kant, Hegel and the like which has different perspectives on what education should be like. The great debate between Dewey and Leon Trotsky in Their Morality and Ours, an ideological documentation of the Mexico trial in the 1930s perhaps illustrate the contending viewpoint of how democracy can be conceived and correlated to education within the context of political socialization and citizenship education. In Experience and Education John Dewey argued that education is not a “banking concept” of the transfer of knowledge solely for cultural continuity nor it is a process of “experiencing” without clear and goal-oriented organization; that schooling is a process of producing “good citizens” and not merely “good workers” who would live by participatory rather than protectionist democratic principles; that in order to achieve the level of “freedom with responsibility”, schooling must be organized along the lines of experiential learning which are educative and promotes “growth” with the criteria of experience specifically geared towards generating more “child-centered” learning so that knowledge and learning can continue to progress in a scientific mode. Educational philosophy, thus for Dewey is not a question of Either/Or between so-called traditional and progressive philosophies, but essentially of democratic living, and being and becoming which should be translated within the domain of cultural continuity and scientific rationality. The participatory ideal in Dewey’s concept of democracy, at least in this post modernity of corporate America is problematic to be accepted. Dewey’s concept of knowledge did not analyze its politics and philosophy, the question of who owns knowledge; his idea of scientific nationalism in educational thought masks the direction science is taking us in this modern era plagued with the question of control in Computer Revolution; the source of “experience” of the individual in school may fail the scrutiny of the epistemology, ontology and axiology of it in this age of alienation, Simulacra and technophilia and hyper-reality; the question of freedom is devoid of distinction between “freedom” and “liberation” as proposed by liberation theologists such as Gustavo Guttierez and Denis Goulet and many a transcendental and postmodern philosophical thinkers such as Martin Buber, Radhakrishnan, and Jacques Derrida and those in one way or another championing deconstructionism in our conception of human nature and human freedom. And last but not least, the concept of producing “good citizens” through schooling will fail to look at the issue of global capitalism as a tightly-knit system of systematic mental and ideological oppression masked under the shibboleth of free trade and liberalism. In short, Dewey’s democracy is democracy for the many the Deconstructivist Age democracy of our times is for the few evolvingly creating, in the sense talked about by Herbert Marcuse, “one-dimensional human beings” unable to perceive the contradictions he/she is in. What can possibly be an agenda in the reconstructing of Dewey’s philosophy; in the noble ideals he attempts to mediate in the Essentialist and Progressivist traditions? It can be argued that there are indeed standards of post modernity in Dewey’s Experience and Education and this perspective can be illustrated from Maxine Greene’s writing particularly in The Dialectic of Freedom wherein Dewey lamented upon education, schooling and learning being preyed upon by the cult of creating mass consumers of which the most obvious benefactors would be the financiers, the bankers and corporate capitalists in general. Dewey’s participatory democratic ideals can be explored to its existential libertarian limit and in fact can also move towards creative anarchism. How would educators committed to the dismantling of protectionist, Republican-Democrat type of “mass deceptive” democracy extend the Deweyian dialogue into the spheres of millennial issues such as alienation, environmental degradation, structural violence, one-dimensionality in thinking, and analysis of the pervasive British inspired oligarchic monopoly capitalism which has pervaded American economy since Hamilton and Jefferson days, much to the opposition of the ideals of the American revolution which had chartered an egalitarian brand of American political economy? How do we make dominant the people’s history of the United States – of the struggle of the common people marginalized by crypto-crony corporate capitalism? How do we bring in dialogues brought about by Thomas Paine, Norman Thomas, the IWW and Noam Chomsky in the teacher education so that the growth of America can carry the banner of international and economic, social and political justice alongside with youths of other nations which must also be radicalized into dismantling international capitalism. If schools can be (and loved to be) blamed for all the ills of today, can we teachers use this avenue to turn the tide and channel our energy into one powerful international social movement? How then must we teach? must be the quintessential question. Herein lies the possibility in a postmodern reading and praxis of Dewey’s ideas circa Millenium.

29] On Thinking Like Maxine Greene

ON THINKING LIKE MAXINE by Azly Rahman “… since a Maxine Greene has existed, more should be created” were the words which were crafted in my mind as I was walking home after listening to the existential phenomenologist’s narrative of the Self, curriculum, schooling, and what the possibilities in education should be. Maxine Greene’s idea of the mind as “verb” rather than a “noun” captured my imagination in analyzing what mass deception can potentially do to creative young minds schooled in a capitalist, totalitarian, or a mixture-of-both state. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” would be an appropriate juxtapository statement to Professor Greene’s maxim. It frames the question of the role of schooling as a mass babysitting state-sponsored enterprise which pegs thinking and human beings, mould them, and invent their realities into believing that the modern state is a moralistic and democratic institution to be abidingly served in the name of “national interest”. I think much of what is said by Professor Greene has given me the added fuel to go more miles ahead in exploring the terrain of the more radical humanistic philosophies such as radical humanism and creative anarchism; the latter a much misunderstood perspective of the Self in the relation to the State. Several points made by Professor Greene have helped me link existentialism with the meaning of teaching. First, the idea that the “self doesn’t exist but created in the course of action” and second, “individuals become persons because of other persons and culture”. These two can be interpreted by the notion of the evolving creative self in dialogue with others and with experience to create a community of learners closer to humanity than to forms of ideological domination and mental constructs which limit the meaning of freedom. I find these transcendentalizingly refreshing notions which are Deweyian, Vygotskian, and Freirian in essence. The notion of dialogue in Greene’s narrative is similar to Dewey’s idea of “democracy to be lived for”, to Vygotsky’s “learning as a social cognitive enterprise based upon collaboration culturally meaningful”, and Freire’s “conscientization and the subjectivizing of the objective so that the power of the word can be realized”. Greene talked about life as the activity of “naming things and after doing so change them”. “To name the world and to change it”, as she puts it. I would extend Greene’s notion of existential phenomenology with the idea that the Self is in “trialogue”, i.e. in constant dialogue with the Surreal, and the Supreme Spirit; that the “I” in us powers Technology in the presence of the Inner Conscience so that what the I creates (technological tools, ideology, institutions, and ideas for social change) is imbued with a deep sense of moral conviction and reflectivity which constitute ethical behavior. The Creative Self is hence existing within Creativity in the Moral domain. What is the use of one being schooled if in the long run is agenda is to be engineered as beings who would create and propagate structures of oppression such as militarism, structural violence, state-sponsored terrorism, engines of mass destruction, and instruments of the perpetuation of Space Age imperialism? I believe Greene’s idea of teaching for understanding, much popularized by Howard Gardner these days, points to such a notion of developing the trialogical self through a curriculum which brings meaning and creates authenticity in learning and promotes inclusionary practice. Her idea of freedom as also mentioned in her Dialectic of Freedom must begin with the developing of the holistic self through the arts, for, human beings themselves are a metaphor of the humanism governing life and living which is in constant threat of technologism we too, ironically, has created. We live perhaps in an Orwellian society wherein realities are invented and packaged out of an industrialized culture and schooling has become a powerful instrument of social reproduction rationalized in the language of utilitarianism, technological determinism and liberalism. With apologies to Albert Camus, “one must imagine our human race happy, as we roll the rock up the hill of mass deception” after having been condemned by the God of Economic Productivity or the Goddess of Surplus and Plenty! In the words of Roger Waters of the British rock group Pink Floyd, “… all and all we’re just another brick in the wall”. But however captivating Greene’s idea of human freedom within the context of existentialism is, she left me with some perplexing questions: Is freedom merely a means to and end? If it is a process, from what should one be free from? Is death the end of freedom or the beginning of one? We live in a world of wants and needs and of constructs – race, ethnicity, ideology, biological, political etc. – and what is the condition like to be free whilst at the same time still “be in this world”? We are biologically constructed and by virtue of such a construction, can our mind be a “verb” without being conscious of the desires of the flesh we are encapsulated in? i.e. the “noun” we live in? and by claiming one to be an existential phenomenologist, can one also claim to be ideologically free from domination? I reflect upon a “goodbye phrase” written be my advisor at Ohio, George Wood who cautioned me of becoming an ideologue (Marxist humanist presumably) when he wrote: (to the effect) “be closer to the people and to the self rather that to ideals for Marxism, existentialism, and anarchism are themselves constructs; they condition one to become an ideologue” For ten years hence, I have reflected upon these words and attempt to capture the essence of what education and teaching means within world wherein the only permanent thing is change! To recap this reflective notes, I would say that Maxine Greene has provided us with an example of an intellectual commitment for dialogue within the world we call education, within the context of contending paradigms of the what schooling should mean and how curriculum should become. This dialogue must be continued so that we may then, as teachers become closer to becoming a “verb” than continue to exist as “nouns” unaware of what “adjectives” are used to describe us or how we use them to describe ourselves.

28] Curriculum and Postmodernism

ON CURRERE: CONTEXT, COMPLEXITY, AND CHAOS IN ITS CONCEPTUALIZATION by AZLY ABDUL RAHMAN Rather than take the position of encapsulating the authors’ viewpoints in Perrenialist, Essentialists, Progressivist, Postmodernist, or Multicultural moulds, I reflect upon the unity in themes and speculate on their differences in these brief reflection notes. We first look at the authors’ varying claims. Dewey (Ch. 7) sees the importance of a progressive organization of subject matter; Taylor (Introduction and Ch. 5) instructed readers to organize themselves into communities to look at how students’ experience can be enriched; Connelly and Clandinin (pp. Ix-10) implicitly asked us to organize our way of perceiving curriculum so that it become metacognitive, metaphorical, and mass-dominated (as opposed to elitist-dominated); Campbell (Ch.12) sees multiculturalism as a potential avenue to organize our educational philosophical obligations for a society demanding such changes; and finally Slattery (Ch.3) invites us to organize our thoughts amidst the chaos and complexity of our postmodern condition. In short, “organize” and its variant “organization” is the key terms, which unite the viewpoints. Like it was once said that “All roads lead to Rome”, the pedagogical pathways championed by the authors attempt to suggest ways the human experience can be objectified so that he/she may understand “reality out there” through the organized educational process called “schooling”. In this process the currere is conceived as a racecourse in which thoroughbreds have presumably been prepared to “race” with each other in the game called life in a race called “human race”. Tyler seemed to echo Dewey in his tone of writing about progressive organization of subject matter. Like Dewey he denounced the exaggerated distinction between Essentialism and Progressivism in educational philosophical demarcations. Tyler in fact took a neutral stand in introducing other perspectives such as Social Reconstructionism, Perennialism, and Romanticism. Like Dewey however, he insisted and instructed upon orderliness in the presenting of subject matter, much in the logical-positivist paradigm and called for a cooperative and empowering effort by the school decision-making members to “attack” curriculum that has been passed down from cultural tradition so that it may be enriched to the desirable ends befitting students’ interests. In Dewey and Taylor we find the absence of discussions on the complexity of reality and knowledge source and multi-facetness of learner behavior. In the Tylerian and Deweyian worldview of curriculum, a body of knowledge is already present and agreed upon for the sustenance of society and for scientific, social, cultural, economic, and political reproduction; -- the question lies only in how they are to be contextualized, organized, enriched, and transmitted to the living and partial “tabula rasas” almost most oftentimes housed within four walls called classroom, so that education may take its meaning. Status quo is to be maintained and “denying the past and historical tradition” (whatever history means and according to and for whom it is written) is never an issue. Perhaps Tyler and Dewey were entirely relevant at the time, in the Roosevelt Era of The New Deal, whence United States was in the full force of industrialization with the Scientific Management of Frederick Taylor the main philosophy to drive America’s engine of growth. Perhaps Dewey was necessary as a powerful mediator between the tension inherent in the industrial-capitalist ideology and the anarcho-syndicalist Labor movement ideology, which was threatening the nation into Depression. Had not Roosevelt brought America to World War 2 after Russian had lost 20 million of its people, the country would have fallen into internal chaos. Thus, education as an enterprise for human capital and social reproduction needed philosophers to articulate the demands of such an age of chaos and complexity. It is no different in the late 1990s with ideas such as Total Quality Schools, the Accountability, and “Back to Basics” movements inherent, and well illustrated in documents such as those which appeared during the Sputnik era, and in Ronald Reagan’s A Nation at Risk, and in contemporary suggestions for educational visioning such as America 2000: Developing America’s Talents. And if the unity in theme in the authors’ expose of what currere in education is, is in the idea of “organize” and the “organization of experiences” to be subjectivized and objectified in the process of schooling through the use of curriculum, the breaking away of the themes lies in the question of experience itself. Slattery, Connelly& Clandinin, and Campbell, writing to a degree or another within the postmodern tradition extended the Tyler-Dewey notion of the debate on how experience should be organized. For the postmodernist writers, the question of ideology, power, class, race, ethnicity, and gender are brought into play when describing the politics and philosophy of knowledge as well as the nature of “lived experience. The postmodernist view is attractive as it relates to the contemporary world; a world of experience described in terminologies such as “reflectivity”, “subalterns”, meta-narratives” gaia consciousness” “androgyny”, “voices” and others postmodern in character. How do we conceptualize curriculum in this age of chaos and complexity? In this age of hyper-reality and cyber-communities, questions of further redefining “schooling”, “training”, “educating”, and “experiencing” seem all the more pressing. As they are, “to be schooled”, “to be trained” “to be educated”, “to be experiencing” – all these carry differing epistemological and axiological connotations. They force us to bring in Dewey, Kandel, Kilpatrick, Carnoy, Bowles and Gintis, Leonard, Counts,Friere, Derrida, Rorty and a range of others into the educational philosophical debate in determining what the destiny of the human race would be in his/her existence as “beings” subjected to “schooling” via the “employing of curriculum” in his/her travelling in the pathway to become authentic, thinking, feeling, and philosophizing beings in this challenging age of Simulacra, Techno-surrealism, mass consumption --- in a postmodern “throw-away” society.

27] Curriculum Theory and Postmodern Tools


by Azly Rahman

Conelly and Clandin’s Teachers as Curriculum Planners provides perspectives which are not entirely new to teachers involved in Whole Language approach to teaching. Tools such as journal writing, biography, picturing, and document analysis are among those which have been in use in Language Arts in addition to a range of other tools in the domain of creative movement, reading, writing, media, and speaking which are personalistic in nature. Conelly and Clandin essentially tried to contextualize the principles and strategies within the field of emerging curricular practice partially using the rhetoric of postmodernism. Refreshing perhaps is the authors’ Gestalt and transcendental analytic approach to curriculum planning they called “rediscovering of curricular meaning” framed to include the learner, teacher, subject matter and milieu. Whilst William Pinar’s seminal work in the 1970s on reconceptualizing of the curriculum has given us the paradigm shift upon which curriculum is to be made more personalized and whilst William Slattery’s Curriculum Development in the Postmodern Era provide the rationale why curriculum need to be looked at from the postmodern context, Conelly and Clandinin’s work detailed the nature of involvement which can be undertaken by the actors ready to re-engineer the curriculum; from the board of directors to the child in the classroom. The strength of the work lies in the comprehensive range of suggestions on how to create an inclusionary and meaningful approach to such a rediscovering which in turn would scaffold learners’ construction of knowledge. It is thus constructivistic in approach permeating all levels – from administrators to learners. I find the idea relevant to our realization of the terms “situated cognition” wherein teachers are also required to define their philosophy and exercise reflective ability so that they and the learners are together subjectivity knowledge; echoing the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran’s idea that “your children are not yours… they come out of you but not of you” and “…children are like arrows of which you are the bow which launch them” and in Socrates’ idea of the innateness of knowledge in the human being. Teachers, in this postmodernist context are ones who live in a shared milieu but do not necessarily claim monopoly to knowledge, for in Arthur C. Clarke’s words, “the future is a different world… they do things differently” and for learners, we are preparing them for a future which in fact is a present consisting of a archived past. Through apprenticeship and guided participation, learners appropriate knowledge, skill and understanding of “situations”, via scaffolds erected by teachers, learning then becomes situated, dynamic, and transformative. Reading the underlying assumptions of Conelly and Clandin’s work, I could sense a strong undercurrent of complexity and chaos theory, anti-foundationalism, subaltern narratives, reflexivity, and futurism as strands. If I could envision the aftermath of a many decades of mass deployment of Conelly and Clandinin’s strategies in all schools, something as such below would develop: State-mandated curriculum would be transformed in character; from a “rock logic” to “water logic” nature in which fluidity in growth and shifting grounds in its parameters will be the feature. Within the disciplines, knowledge will be organic, mutative, and morphic, much more than interdisciplined. An analogy of this organic-mutative-morphic nature of knowledge construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction (the “Brahma-Shiva-Vishnu” nature of things in Hindu philosophy) would be the three-dimensional pattern created out of the Artificial Intelligence – generated patterns derived out of mathematical equations as in the Mandelbrott set manifested within the paradigm of Chaos and Complexity theories. The water logic transformation as such can give birth to Kuhnian paradigm shifts which would be characteristic of integrative, comprehensive, and complex systems based upon the principles of “perpetual transitions”. Since state-mandated curriculum legitimizes the state and hegemonizes over the minds of those schooled (echoing the claims of Theodore Adorno and Antonio Gramsci), decades of “water logic” transformation of bodies of knowledge (especially in the area of “soft ideological sciences” such as social studies and history) can wither the state an pave way for its dissolution, echoing Thomas Kuhn’s idea that paradigms will shift when contradictions can no longer be contained, just as capitalism within a particular nation can no longer carry its own weight and therefore had to transform into imperialism. Such a dissolution and consequently withering away of the postmodern state can then set the stage for peaceful revolutions which can give rise to the leadership of the techo-mystics as such as much dreamed of by Socrates and Plato who saw the beauty of the republic governed by philosopher kings. Perhaps the nature of world politics will change if the most powerful nations on the face of our Spaceship Earth are governed by techno-mystics who will then spread the message of goodwill through the use of technology towards moral ends and through the sharing of creative products in altruistic ways. Wouldn’t there be beauty in looking at a perfect world, one which would be ruled by those who have understood the maxim “I wept when I had no shoes until I saw a man with no feet”? Since the managers of virtue (curriculum implementers, principals, teachers, curriculum committees,) will become decentered and “empowered by being disempowered” by the postmodern possibility of personalistic interpretation of knowledge constructs as well as freedom for the individual to make his/her history to demystify power an to deconstruct invented realities – all these can help create a positive atomization of society as critical, creative, and futuristic, and life-long learning organic entity. Everyone can then find their own meaning to living and truth within themselves and achieve wisdom in their own lifetime. The “McDonaldized” idea of “state-legitimated schooling for economic development and social advancement “ can be transformed into the notion of learning as living and living as learning “ with the “truth always out there, within, and everywhere” Perhaps the notion of “TRUST NO IDEOLOGY” (with the greatest apologies to The makers of X-Files!) can be the dominant idea of the age. Such comments above thus reflect the link between the ideas proposed in Conelley and Clandinin’s work and the possibilities which can emerge if we look at these from a speculative philosophical and futuristic perspectives. I have provided a scenario based upon the principles of futurism (trend analysis/scenario-building) of which ideas when extrapolated as such can perhaps predict changes. Just as the postmodern perspective can provide us with tools to critically analyze modernity and modernism, Connelly’s and Clandinin’s suggestions which are postmodern in character can provide educators with the means to build scenarios of living, learning, and creating which must be made more and more humane. The idea of growth then, can be looked at not necessarily as one spiraling upwards and acquiring more and materials in the process but to grow would then mean, to live, to simply live, and to continually ask the ontological, epistemological, and axiological questions of living. In short, to reflect upon Kung Fu Tze; we may then continue to live with questions and to ask ones which are simple. For, aren’t the simplest questions the most profound?

26] Curriculum and Mass Schooling in America

ON THE HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF MASS SCHOOLING IN AMERICA: NOTES ON KLEIBARD AND COLLIN’S PERSPECTIVE by Azly Rahman Columbia University, New York Reading, comparing, and reflecting upon Kleibard’s ( 1995) and Collin’s (1979) account of the beginning of mass schooling as a State-sponsored enterprise in America, I discern the oppositional paradgmatic stand taken by the authors entailing me to question the discourse, ontology, and epistemology inherent in the words “struggle”, “history”, and “rise”. Like the Hindu myth of Ramayana and Mahabharatta in which the struggle is those of Gods and demigods, and of Kings good and evil, over control of cosmic property and dissemination of metaphysical ideology, Kleibard’s account of describing the “Other” (i.e., those schooled and curriculum-ed) hovers within the realm of “figures” floodlighting their educational-ideological figurines on what constitute the best ideological mould to school and construct human beings in. Thus, I sense the historical account reflecting the battle of concepts, community of scholars, and constructs. Kleibard’s interesting and linearly progressed treatment of the battle of Whites, Anglo-Saxon Protestant men with their own agenda to push under the banner of movements such as “humanists”, “developmentalists”, “social meliorists”, etc. is constructed within the conceivably well-documented historical-ideological framework. I find it tempting to believe that such a struggle actually exists as perhaps, Kleibards’s rendering of mass schooling can easily be inter-textually juxtaposed with similar accounts of such ideologically-frameworked demarcations I can find in many a mainstream liberal and neo-liberal body of literature on curriculum theorizing written in the Fernand Braudel Annales-like school of thought. How does Kleibard’s account differ then, with that of Collin’s? Like the story of the struggle of the Parisians during the French Revolution of 1789 which overthrew King Louis Capet in which the “masses disposed their “representative of God on Earth” and the ideology of the “Sun King” reign with, Collin’s (1979) account can also be metaphored as such. His is about political-economic changes described from the point of view of waves of peoples as attempting to situate themselves or be situated in in the process of America’s mid- and late- stages of capitalist formation. Collin’s neo-Marxist interpretation (should this be a fair discursive label to put it in,) which ought to put Columbus Day celebration into the trash-can of future historizing, is about how superstructure (ideology) schooled people into the industrial and post-industrial ethos. Unlike in Kleibard’s there is conceivably no movements nor “towering intellectual figures” propped onto center stage in the drama of the struggle for the American curriculum. Collin’s is about movement of people moved and removed in the conveyor belt of American industrial-capitalism. His account is neo-Marxist with emphasis on the ascendancy of material and cultural capital within the matrix of, borrowing Pierre Bourdieu’s terminology, “technocratic habitus”. It is about how individuals are made to participate in the rat race so that under the guise and shibboleth of technological progress, meritocracy, and social mobility, the capitalist machinery with its hidden agenda and invisible human agency can continue to reproduce people. Whether one calls these accounts historical-functionalist or Marxist-humanist respectively, they remain as those, which attempt to describe the “Other”. Kleibard’s is good reading for mainstream middle-of-the-road educators whilst Collin’s is a welcoming breath of fresh air for post-Woodstock, survivors of the McCarthy era-type of educators for critical consciousness. These accounts are essentially and intentionally paradigmating, whose facts are grounded within their own historicity. Must there be these two versions of history then? What is the real struggle? In what ways can a larger picture be constructed; one which looks at the discourse of curriculum historizing in a more complex fashion – like a Mandelbrott set, with the perspective of chaos and complexity theory and beyond the borders of America as a modern production house of multiple curriculum theories?

25] Education, Curriculum, and Colonial Subjugation


by Azly Rahman

Anderson (1998) narrates a poignant historical account of the education of Black teachers in the South between 1860-1935 chronicling particularly the inherent power relations embedded in the Tuskegee-Hampton model of industrial training. If, borrowing from the notion that teaching is a subversive act, Anatole France’s idea of teaching as the awakening of curious, young minds, and Gramscian notion of “organic intellectuality”, I conclude from the historical-materialistic perspective that the Black teacher is blatantly doomed to serve the interest of the imperialist—capitalist ruling class. If there is a paradigm to situate such a dehumanizing conception of how a Black teacher should be educated, it is one which would relegate them into having the minimum basic education enough to help socially reproduce their people into menial –industrial laborers chained to the shop floor of the industrial capitalists or trained to be good servants in the mansions of powerful and wealthy white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants. The Hampton-model and the curriculum cemented this colonizer-colonized ideal with its proponents’ faith in elevating the Blacks to yet another level of institutionalized slavery (Chapter 2). Even if there exist an apparent ideological “tug-of-war” between the camps of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois pertaining to the insistence for a liberal curriculum, the referees and the sponsors in these are strategically imperial-capitalist so-called “philanthropists”. I state the word “imperial” to also refer to the Hampton model being excitedly transferred to Liberia, Africa around that that time which must also be looked at historically as a phase in British-oligopolic-inspired, American-styled colonialism.

Such projects too happened in the case of the transfer of vocational education on the Philippines and in Latin American countries wherein American industrialists see the Third World as a huge and dirt cheap pool of labor not only to provide bread on the table of the industrialized nation-states but also the help speed up the production capacity of the then emerging automobile and canning industries. Kleibard’s (1995) account of the ideal is about the struggle of white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant theorists in a “tug-of-war” on how best to groom America’s political-economic elite. His is about the search for the one best system of, among others, to train teachers to teach the masses to acquire good habits of the heart, mind, and body so that they can be socially reproduced to run the industrial-based economy.

Kleibard’s arm-chair styled of doing history his and “issue versus non-issue” treatment of what constitute a humanistic struggle for the teachers, did not give any account of the national and international dimension of capitalist formation and contradictions during the early and middle period of American rise to world industrialism. The ideal of the Black teacher, in Kleibard’s account, is almost non-existent. His narratives revolve around which “towering figure” in which ideological camp goes to war aided by which individuals and institutions occupying power and authority and controlling the means of base and superstructural production. Absent is the perspective of the “people’s history of the United States” and particularly relevant to this discussion is the voice of teachers, be they Black, white, or in-between. But aside the discussions above, a question remains: can these accounts still be categorized as attempts towards “Othering” in curriculum theorizing? Can it not be shameful of me to use a poststructural critique on historizing and my reflecting upon such a phase in history, as what is important is not to become apologists to what happened in history but rather, to discern beyond historicity the praxical judgement of it.

24] Schooling and Technological Fantasy

REDESIGNING SCHOOLING AND SOCIETY, REDEFINING ‘DEVELOPMENT’ IN THE AGE OF VIRTUAL REALITY: THE CASE OF MALAYSIA’S SMART SCHOOLS IN ITS MULTIMEDIA SUPER CORRIDOR by Azly Rahman Columbia University, New York Introduction When discussed within the context of aesthetics of technology and when brought deeper into the analysis of superstructural (ideological) underpinnings of transnational, pan-, and virtual capitalism, Malaysia’s grand design to ‘cybernate’ society and to wire up all of its 10,000 secondary schools situated within its even grander design of The Multimedia Super Corridor, represents an interesting case study and a text to be analyzed via the paradigm of Critical Theory through the means of discourse analysis on “development”. In this brief analysis of the transfer of discourse on technological change and the heteroglossia surrounding it (see Bakhtin, 1984), I will first present a scenario of change – of how agents of technological change is playing its role in a world of fantasy reminiscent of Arthur C. Clarke’s statement that “… the future is a different world, they do things differently there…”, and proceed with a brief discourse analysis drawing from ideas proposed by Broughton (1984), Marcuse (1941), and Terkel (1997 ). Malaysia’s MSC (Multimedia Super Corridor) Project The picture of change is, in the Baudrilliardian sense, a fascinating one. Malaysia, under the rule of its Prime Minister of 17-years, Mahathir Mohamad has of late embarked upon the creation of a cyber-society run from an administrative capital called CyberJaya within the techno-cultural context of so-called a “Multi-Media Super Corridor” (MSC). The MSC is a built on several hundred square kilometers of area in which “seven flagship applications” will be its feature. It mimics California’s Silicon Valley and Singapore’s cybercity concepts among others of which Malaysia will be moved to a new paradigm of living based upon the “humane application of high technology” manifested in the sub concepts of electronic government, tele-medicine, electronic banking, electronic commerce, and pertinent to our analysis, the smart schools. The biggest airport in Asia, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport was recently opened to facilitate the development of CyberJaya. From the “wired-up” capital city as the initial program of mega-structural change, the Malaysian government planned to create cyber-principalities out of the thirteen states constituting the federation. It is envisioned that by the metaphorical year of 2020 the country will have achieved the status of a fully-industrialized nation able to compete with other advanced industrialized nations namely the United States of America, Europe, Japan and Singapore that such an advancement would however be based upon a strong foundation of religious and moral values. Thus, through its “smart schools” of which the prototype will be operating on January 1, 1999, future generation of this nation will be able to fully and democratically participate in the Information Age. The country now has specialized universities among them moving towards the total implementation of the Internet as a mode of delivery. One that was recently established itself as the first “virtual university” in the country prides itself in its total absence of physical interaction between the student and the instructor. Discourse Analysis Broughton (1984) summarizes the rhetoric of value-neutrality of technology, embedded in the discourse of technological change in that the semantics involved clusters of terms such as “necessary” “irreversible”, “unavoidable”, “travelling rapidly”, “total”, and “fait accompli” to describe the advent of the Computer Revolution. (p.2). In the rhetoric of change embedded in the discourse concerning Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor, one finds such cluster of words to be more developed, couched in even neutral and positively appealing terms, signifying the nation’s unbridled faith in quantum leaping into the era of cybernetics. Words like “world class”, “world’s first”, “leading edge”, “high powered”, “top quality”, “bold initiative”, and other “magnificio”-resounding ones are employed in the discourse. Illustrative of the use of these is in the vision statement of the Multimedia Super Corridor; a blend of aesthetics of technology and the drive to be technologically competitive in a borderless world. In describing Cyberjaya (Malay for "Cyber City") the Prime Minister eulogizes: Cyberjaya is envisaged to be the model multimedia haven for leading, innovative multimedia companies from all over the world to spin a ‘web’ that will mutually enrich all those involved with it. Especially created as the first MSC designated cybercity, it enables world-class companies to take full advantage of the unique package Malaysia offers to create an environment that is fully conducive towards exacerbating the growth of information technology and multimedia industries. It offers a high capacity global and logistics infrastructure , backed by a ‘soft’ infrastructure, which includes financial incentives and competitive telecoms tariffs, as well as a set of new cyberlaws that will form a legal framework to facilitate the growth of electronic commerce. (p.1) And his rhetoric on the importance of accepting the futuristic idea of the MSC is summed as such: … it will enable Malaysia to leapfrog into the Information Age. The establishment of the Multimedia Super Corridor, of which Cyberjaya is the nucleus, is an evolving step towards embracing the future. It’s long-term objective is to catalyse the development of a highly competitive cluster of Malaysia multimedia and IT companies that will eventually become world class. (p.1) And thus, Smart Schools (“wired” schools) is designed to become the means of social reproduction to live with the nation’s fantasy of becoming technologically aggressive and competitive and one in which the MSC will become, as the Prime Minister’s technocrats say “Malaysia’s gift to the world”. The setting up of the Smart Schools within the Malaysian government’s project to establish Cyberjaya and Putrajaya as two of the world’s first intelligent cities, is a technological deterministic step towards further linking the nation to the world’s financial capital. And within the perspective of schools as a means of social, economic, political, cultural, and technological reproduction, Smart Schools are aimed at producing citizens able to function effectively in the Information Age. Discourse on Malaysia’s Smart Schools In early January of 1997, as a lecturer in Creativity, Thinking Skills, and Ethics, I was invited to represent the university I worked with to the first session of the unveiling of the idea of the smart school. The idea of the “wiring up” of the Malaysian schools can be summarized by a communiqué from the Ministry of Education (1997) which read: By the year 2010, all approximately ten thousand schools will be Smart Schools. In these schools, learning will be self-directed, individually-paced, continuous and reflective. This will be made possible through the provision of multimedia technology and worldwide networking. (p.1) The plan for such a purposeful change was thus to utilize computer-mediated learning technologies particularly the Internet and World Wide Web so that the national agenda of creating a “cyber society” will be realized by a targeted metaphorical date of year 2020. Echoing Sarason (1996) on the need to look at changes in the school system as derived from inside and outside of the schools (p.12), the case of the initiated “smart school” concept can be said to be derived not only out of “first order analysis, but particularly apparent and dominant out of “second order “ dictates – out of political-economic perception of what constitutes progress and how education must be made to respond to them. As the “smart school” concept relates to this second order changes, the Ministry of Education (1997) notes that: Malaysia needs to make the critical transition from an industrial economy to a leader in the Information Age. In order to make this vision a reality, Malaysia needs to make a fundamental shift towards a more technologically literate, thinking workforce, able to perform in a global environment and use the tools available in the Information Age. To make this shift, the education system must undergo a radical transformation (p.1) The Minister of Education announced that the first Smart School is being built with a cost of Malaysian Ringgit 144.5 million of which, aside from it being “wired”, “will also be equipped with a hostel for 800 students, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a hockey pitch, a hall, and other facilities” (Business Times, 1996, p.3). It is also said that the school will start operating in January 1999 and eventually all Malaysians will be operating based upon this concept. Within the rhetoric embedded in the discourse on Smart Schools, what is the issue in the larger context of the meaning of “development” for a nation mimicking advanced capitalist countries? Whether the control of high technological production in the hands of the few in the techno-industrialized West and whether nations such as Malaysia plunging itself into this long term program of uncertainty and in the wheel of the international capitalist machine – all these are not issues in the educational and social reform. The idea and implementation of such a controlled paradigm of “progress” and “development”, once institutionalized may carry consequences anathema to the idea of reform based upon the use of “available technology and appropriate resources” constructed within a paradigm celebrating grassroots, bottom-up, and humanistic initiatives with philosophies “closer to the people”. In what way is Malaysia attempting to realize its fantasy of cybernating its society entire? In realizing this dream, this post-colonial cybernating nation has invited a panel of advisors more impressive than those who sat on the advisory board of the National Council of Educational Excellence (NCEE) of the United States of America whose report “A Nation At Risk” evoked a national debate on the “rising tide of educational mediocrity”. In the case of the Malaysia’s project those in the panel, among other are Chief Executive Officers/Presidents of the following corporations: Acer Incorporated, Alcatel Alsthom, Microsoft Corporation, Bechtel Group Incorporated, British Telecom, Cisco Systems, Compaq Computers Corporation, DHL, Ericsson, Fujitsu Limited, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Motorola Corporation, Netscape Communications, Reuters, Motion Picture Association of America, Twentieth Century Fox, and tens of others of global giants in the telematics and media-related industries. Professors of Business and Public Policy from Silicon Valley’s Stanford University are among those guiding the development of Malaysia’s cyber initiatives. Malaysian subsidiaries of these giants in the world of multi-billion dollar club transnational corporations have been set up for such a project. The multi-billion dollar airport recently opened thus is an important infrastructure to help these companies land quickly and safely on the Multimedia Super Corridor. What do all the interlocking directorates and picture of controlling interest have got to do with the discourse on “development”? Discourse on development: Further questions The shibboleth of developmentalism embraced as discourse of technological progress by Independent nation-states quantum leaping into the Era of Informatics most often mask the ideology, power relations, and human agents involved in the production of the discourse itself. Broughton’s (1984) notes of concern for the presumed neutrality of technological change, reminiscent of those of Norman Balabanian, Neil Postman, Ian Reinecke, and Jacques Ellul, can be extended to the analysis of rhetoric of Malaysia’s MSC and Smart Schools. Parallel to the government’s euphoria on how cybernetic technology can become a “habitus”, (as Bourdieu would term it), for its newer form of “guided democracy”, and how schooling will play its role in a cybernetic form of ideological state apparatus, is the neo-Marxist analysis of dependency. As it concerns dependency, is the involvement of major Silicon Valley corporations signifying what Latin American dependendistas would call an era of Center-Periphery pan- and virtual capitalist formation, or in what Frederick Jameson would call, a cybernetic era of late capitalist formation? Whilst Marcuse (1941) may see the progressive dimension in modern technology as it may shape social relations, in the case of cyberneting Malaysia, will the technological deterministic and hypist mentality embraced become yet another tool for social control and as a cybernetic extension of patriarchal “Big Brotherish” brand of Asian Machiavellian political machinery much needed to be dismantled? And as it relates to learning, as Terkel (1997) put forth in her critique of computer-mediated learning technologies, will the rapid, massive, unavoidable, irreversible deployment of computers in all Malaysian schools bring schooling closer in meaning to education and liberation – or will it be another means to coerce Malaysian children to help realize and carry forth the agenda of computer hardware and software giants fighting their unending battle over global domination? And finally, in relating to Bakhtin’s (1981) notion of heteroglossia, is the term “development via technological progress superficially analyzed by technocrats of the MSC such that much of the “pollutants” which has glossed over a more liberating meaning of the term, are taken ass aura itself? In other words, who defines what the meaning of technological progress mean and in what ways do that definition get embraced uncritically and contextualized and next be turned into policies in a megastructural scale as such as in the case of the MSC? Conclusion In this brief essay I have discovered more questions on the issue surrounding Malaysia’s technological fantasy. Paradigmed from the Critical Theory perspective in looking at power and ideology embedded in the transfer of discourse, I have used Malaysia’s strategic plan, the MSC as a text to be analyzed. The contradictions inherent in the development of pan- and virtual capitalism (see also Kroker & Weinsten, 1998) is alluded to in the discussions on the tension between this nation-state’s wanting to be free from the economic label of “underdeveloped and developing” and to its potential leap into a more sophisticated world of globalism – that of virtual and post-post-industrial capitalism, beyond the classic Rostowian definition of “mass consumption” as the highest stage of capitalism. The contradictions and questions are worthy of further analysis guided by the essential questions “qui bono” and “what then must be done”?! References Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). “Discourse on the novel,” in The dialogical imagination: four essays. Holquist, M. ed. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press Broughton, J. (1984). “The rhetoric of technological progress” TK 6628 Class notes. Unpublished. Fullan, M. & Steigelbauer, S. (1991) The new meaning of educational change, 2d. Ed.. New York: Teachers College Press. Kroker, A. & Weinstein, M. (1998) “The political economy of virtual reality: pan capitalism”. Available: Marcuse, H. (1941). “Some social implications of modern technology” in Studies in philosophy and social sciences, Vol. IX Ministry of Education Malaysia Communique (1997) “Implementation of smart schools” Available: smart.html. Ministry of Education Malaysia Communiqué (1997) “Smart schools in Malaysia: A quantum leap” Available: Multimedia Development Corporation (1998) “Overview” in What is the MSC? Available: Sarason, S.B. (1996). Revisiting the culture of school and the problem of change. New York: Teachers College Press “Smart schools will start in January ’99: Najib,” Business Times, September 23, 1996. Available: Terkel, S. (1997) “Seeing through computers: education in a culture of simulation” The American Prospect no. 31 (March-April 1997)

About Me

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Born in Singapore and grew up in Johor Baru; holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in International Education Development and Masters in four areas: Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies and Communication; pursuing fifth, MFA in Creative Writing; has taught more than 50 courses in six different departments; written more than 350 analyses on Malaysia; teaching experience in Malaysia and the United States spanning over a wide range of subjects, from elementary to graduate education; has edited and authored seven books; Multiethnic Malaysia: Past, Present, Future (2009), Thesis on Cyberjaya: Hegemony and Utopianism in a Southeast Asian State (2012), The Allah Controversy and Other Essays on Malaysian Hypermodernity (2013), Dark Spring: Ideological Roots of Malaysia's GE-13 (2013), a first Malay publication Kalimah Allah Milik Siapa?: Renungan dan Nukilan Tentang Malaysia di Era Pancaroba (2014), Controlled Chaos: Essays on Mahathirism, Multimedia Super Corridor and Malaysia's 'New Politics' (2014), One Malaysia under God, Bipolar (2015); resides in the United States teaching courses in Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Political Science, and American Studies.