Imagining Education: Beyond the Logic of Global Neoliberal Capitalism
reviewed by Elizabeth Yomantas - August 30, 2018
Title: Imagining Education: Beyond the Logic of Global Neoliberal Capitalism
Author(s): Arturo Rodriguez & Kevin R. Magill (Eds.)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1681237466, Pages: 216, Year: 2017
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As Peter McLaren indicates in the forward to Imagining Education Beyond the Logic of Global Neoliberal Capitalism, the United States at present is a country divided by hate and fear. A sense of animosity, violence, criminalization, and marginalization pervade our every day. The future may appear bleak, but as the authors of this text point out, there is hope beyond the present reality; there is hope in critical pedagogy as a way to reimagine the future of our world. This text, edited by Arturo Rodriguez and Kevin Magill, has chapters written by cultural workers, comrades, and colleagues who both theorize and mobilize the struggle for realized democracy.
Imagining Education Beyond the Logic of Global Neoliberal Capitalism blends together rich theoretical work with practical ways to embody the concepts discussed throughout the text. In the introduction, Rodriguez and Magill disclose their relationship as former teacher and student, respectively, who together questioned if society is a reproduction of the practices students and teachers articulate in the classroom, a question that remains unanswered fifteen years later. Rodriguez and Magill note that an overall theme in the text is to challenge the notion that capitalism is a foregone conclusion (p. xxiii), and they claim that while education can play a role in legitimizing the logic of the neoliberal system, schools also have the potential to be transformed into spaces for consciousness raising, the reclamation of human agency and solidarity (p. xxii).
The chapters of this text, all written by well-respected critical scholars, each examine different aspects of neoliberalism. In the beginning of the text, Rodriguez and Magill discuss how neoliberalism, through systems of domination, creates conditions in which students consequently assume their position in a capitalistic society. This is followed by De Lissovoys questioning of the core principles of the logic of neoliberalism, most trenchantly that the marketization of social life creates more choices and consequently more freedom. De Lissovoy argues that we must challenge the definition of freedom. McLaren then examines the relationship between neoliberalism and a macrostructural unconsciousness, and calls for a revolutionary critical pedagogy. Letizias work then traces the historical evolution and premises of neoliberalism and offers visions for the future. Monzó explores the activist history of women of color and argues that their contributions are at the apex of revolution. Monzó also discusses the mass incarceration of people of color as business as usual (p. 80), the criminalization of people of color, and the challenges facing women of color in patriarchal, capitalistic society.
Following Monzós chapter, Singh reimagines a postcolonial utopia, claiming that freedom can only be achieved if we consider life as decolonized subjects. Singh asserts an ethic of incommensurability as a means for envisioning decolonization. Along the same lines, Rodriguez and Magill return to discuss the Eurocentrism of media and education and how this translates to the production of citizens rather than making possible transformative and active citizenship. Following this, Malott challenges the notion of Right-to-Work laws, and Ford calls for a reexamination of Marxism and for us to consider what comes after neoliberalism. Finally, Macrine argues that the pedagogy of debt is a slavery system built by neoliberalism.
The book closes with Girouxs vision for academic responsibility and includes practical ways educators can combat the neoliberal ideology facing the profession, such as acting in solidarity, supporting the working class, and disrupting the neoliberal social order. Giroux argues that educators need to acknowledge that education is a right rather than an entitlement; he argues that there is a need for both young people and academics to become part of a broader social movement aimed at dismantling the repressive institutions that make up the punishing state (p. 180) and connect with the rise of subaltern. Giroux argues that academics need to fight for the rights of students to get a free education and to have a say in the shaping of their education and what it means to expand and deepen the practice of freedom and democracy (p. 181).
Based on the tense political climate, there is a need for new solutions to address neoliberal ideologys domination of education. As Letizia suggests in Chapter Four, new solutions will not come from a sole political party, but rather through a dialogical superseding of neoliberalism by abolishing what is unjust in it and transforming what still may hold the power to lay the foundations of a new, more just, society (p. 53). Readers of the text may be critical educators who are interested in the transformation of the self, the classroom, and consequently the world. This book is particularly exciting for educators because there is a fusion of deep theoretical work, examples that connect theory to practice, and practical applications for how to mobilize these concepts in the classroom. For example, as Letizia argues, a teachers role in change is complex, but teachers have the power to act; teachers can take a proactive role and help their students see this injustice (p. 58) through vision actualization assignments that elicit revolutionary writing from students (p. 66) and that are grounded in visions of critical pedagogy.
The chapters of this book embody two of Freires most essential concepts: struggle and hope. There is great struggle in reimaging neoliberal capitalism, but there is also great hope. There is hope in the theories and recommendations brought forth by the cultural workers, comrades, and colleagues (p. xxii) in this text, and there is also great hope in the critical dialogues, consciousness raising, and praxis that can result from reading this text. Imagining Education Beyond the Logic of Global Neoliberal Capitalism can serve as a springboard for new languages of possibility and a tool to further reimagine our world. As McLaren explains:
There is room for all at the table of restoration, a creative side of possibility, where we can contemplate our existence in the present and the not yet, where we can set freedom in motion but not fully realize it, where can we move towards redemption but not quite achieve resolution, where art can bring forth subconscious truth, [and] where we can reconcile ourselves with others. (p. 49)
Consider a seat at the table of restoration as you read Imagining Education Beyond the Logic of Global Neoliberal Capitalism; as Giroux states in the closing of the book, the future is still open (p. 182).