Teaching for Global Community: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategies of the Oppressor
reviewed by Joe Lewis - October 05, 2012
Title: Teaching for Global Community: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategies of the Oppressor
Author(s): CÚsar Augusto Rossatto
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1617353574, Pages: 304, Year: 2011
Search for book at Amazon.com
What if schools were designed to prepare students to live long lives of contentment and fulfillment? In his chapter A New Paradigm for Global Schooling, Joel Spring reminds us that schools are always engaged in some form of ideological management or another. Current trends bully us toward a one-size-fits-all model of global standardization that prepares students to act primarily as never-fully-satisfied competitors and consumers in a corporate capitalist system. Why? asks Spring in his characteristically calm, convincing voice (that almost seems to embody his call for a pedagogy that celebrates the long life, well lived). And shouldnt it be otherwise?
Teaching for Global Community: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategies of the Oppressor, edited by Cesar Augusto Rossatto, is filled with many such compelling questions and perspectives. Among the more compelling for this reader:
Doug Foley provides a helpful look at the history of ethnographies of youth and charts a road map for where we need to go next to better historicize our ethnographies. He calls for a greater emphasis on post-structuralist discourse analysis; a return to Marxist notions of power; and a more thoughtful look at the effects of globalization on youth.
Cesar Augusto Rossatto argues that new educators can benefit greatly from engaging in confessional forms of writing about race, racism, and privilege. Rossatto asks his own students to re-examine personal experiences through the critical lens provided by course readings. He suggests that such confessional writings often allow for greater personal movement for his students.
Christopher Shanks blends critical race theory and cognitive linguistics to offer a semantic analysis of whiteness. His analysis suggests that critical race theorists often employ the conceptual metaphor of a fortress when discussing and describing whiteness. Shanks believes that a direct presentation of this and other conceptual metaphors may help privileged students better understand what it means to be white, or possess whiteness, in America (p. 139).
Brenda Cherednichenko and Tony Kruger delineate how Victoria University faculty have worked toward a critical pedagogy of teacher education through a redesign of their pre-service program. Their new model emphasizes (among other things): partnership based teacher education . . . nurturing a professional discursive environment . . . praxis inquiry . . . [and] respond[ing] to the needs of school students (p. 178).
Jill Blackmore, writing from a feminist perspective, challenges us to critique western discourses of economic globalization and look toward a more complex understanding of the global community as involving transnational (often inequitable) global flows of people, goods, images, ideas, and money (p. 252). Blackmore points out that educators can often successfully adapt, resist, and/or appropriate too-reified models of school reformation and global standardization (p. 260). She argues that schools and teachers seeking to educate for social justice need to employ innovative pedagogies that actively teach for difference as an important element of their understanding of global community.
Steven Best and Anthony Nocella describe three historical waves of the environmentalist movement and argue that our current moment compels us toward revolutionary environmentalism (which need not be a single entity, but should be a collective movement of alliances). Radical politics must reverse the growing power of the state, mass media, and corporations, write Best and Nocella (p. 290). And while not everyone will agree with their do or die call for environmental revolution, the essay forcefully reminds us that our planet nears a critical juncture and very little is being done to address it.
Clearly, the book attempts to address a broad range of issues. The collection is held together rather loosely, I would argue by a theoretical grounding in neo-Marxist critical perspectives and Freire-inspired critical pedagogy. As the title implies, there is also a general theme of global community, by which the contributors appear to mean something like: democratically-structured, multicultural communities of learning that seek to critique global inequities and promote social justice. This is a vision of global community that stands in stark contrast to the super-standardized, corporate capitalist model critiqued by Spring, Blackmore, and many others throughout the book. It is also a vision of global community that could itself do with a bit of post-structuralist discourse analysis. Is there, for example, a tendency to essentialize the oppressed and the oppressor here?
The book might also benefit from an introductory essay that frames the collection more completely than the anonymously-authored, frankly inadequate preface. Without the help of a colleague who was a contributor to the collection, I would not have known that the book began as a conference at the University of Texas El Paso. Even this general understanding of its inception might help readers to situate it in relation to other literature and better understand the links that exist between and among the various contributors pieces. There are compelling rhizomatic connections here, but they are not always self-evident. The six parts of the book provide some helpful scaffolding, but a well-crafted introductory essay (or a series of shorter introductions to each part) could help evince the connections (and differences) more thoroughly and provide readers with a more nuanced understanding of what the contributors hope to signify with Teaching for Global Community, both the concept and the book. Among the questions Id like to know more about: What brought this particular community of learning together? How were the participants changed by the experience? What new ideas about Teaching for Global Community did the collective discourse inspire? What did the discourse fail to consider? What should happen next?
Still in all, there is much to be praised here. As we enter this pre-election period of near-constant bombardment with puffed-up political advertising and very little thoughtful dialogue about the complex issues facing our nation and world, it becomes increasingly evident that we are a society of never-fully-satisfied consumers (fed here by the advertising industry, secretly funded political action committees, and the twenty-four hour news cycle). Teaching for Global Community reminds us that it can and should be otherwise. The book offers many compelling ideas for how schools, teachers, scholars, and activists could help to make it so.