kitchen table math, the sequel: powerful learnings

Sunday, March 18, 2007

powerful learnings

Francis Bacon said knowledge is power.

There are KIPP schools, widely admired.

But Michel Foucault asserted a different model of the relationship between knowledge and power: Because human understanding exists in social discourse, having knowledge is the same as having the privilege of making a statement pass among other statements as true in social discourse.

An economy of knowledge uses statements as currency and dialogues as monetary exchange. Power relationships are implemented in the “production, accumulation, circulation, and functioning” of discourse.

In short, being able to pass off statements as true is power.

Is this what educators think of when they talk about a "knowledge-based economy"? Shouldn't there be schools based on this model? Or maybe we already have them. Is Foucault the reason why we hear educators go on and on about “powerful” learnings and “powerful” meanings and “powerful” understandings? Is he the one to blame?

And so, who is a discourse capitalist in this economic model?

Who is the proletariat and who is the comfortable bourgeoisie?

Who considers herself in the vanguard of the revolution? If we're talking economics, there's got to be a revolution in here somewhere. Somebody's applecart has got to be upset.

I must be a member of the lumpenproletariat because I can’t seem to pass off anything I say as true in the educational discourse. Teachers don’t buy the statements I’m selling when I talk with them about direct methods of teaching mathematics to children. Teachers are about as excited to listen to me as if I had fished my statements out of a dumpster on a rainy day. I'm only a parent: a reactionary. I am only ever thought to be speaking about the unique circumstances surrounding one child: my own.

Constructivism, on the other hand, sells like hotcakes. I should sell more of that to teachers and purchase IEPs for my child with the proceeds.

3 comments:

Catherine Johnson said...

I must be a member of the lumpenproletariat because I can’t seem to pass off anything I say as true in the educational discourse. Teachers don’t buy the statements I’m selling when I talk with them about direct methods of teaching mathematics to children. Teachers are about as excited to listen to me as if I had fished my statements out of a dumpster on a rainy day.

It really is a mystery.

I've mentioned that Ed came home from the last Board meeting saying that our school administrators are on a civilizing mission.

GoogleMaster said...

Speaking of KIPP, they're in the local news today.

The Knowledge is Power Program — the much-touted national charter school network born in Houston more than a decade ago — will unveil a $100 million plan today to expand its number of schools here fivefold, creating a system that could rival the Houston Independent School District.

GoogleMaster said...

Oh lord, these people crack me up!

HISD school board President Manuel Rodríguez Jr. said he wishes philanthropists would invest their money in the traditional public school system.

"This is private monies, and I'm sorry they're not coming to the public school system," he said. "It would be my hope that all the different facets of the community could come together and work to make the public school system better."


Um, excuse me, Mr. Rodriguez, but I've already "invested" $27,000 of my own money in the public school system in the past 15 years, and I'm just one person of the two million living in your district. I know that the founder of the company I work for "invested" 40% more than that just last year alone.

If I want to invest more of my money in a program that gets results, that's my business.