Henry Giroux on the Militarization of Public Pedagogy

There is a very nice (longish) article in counterpunch on the importance of pedagogy. For the full article see Giroux Interview. Below I present a few key excerpts. The second paragraph talks about the need for both a language of critique and language of hope. I believe that there is now sufficient critique available, and what we need is the language of hope — well articulated dreams of a visionary future with the power to inspire and motivate.

The greatest battle that we’re facing in the U.S. today is around the question of consciousness.   If people don’t have an understanding of the nature of the problems they face they’re going to succumb to the right-wing educational populist machine.  This is a challenge that the Left has never taken seriously because it really doesn’t understand that at the center of politics is the question of pedagogy.  Pedagogy is not marginal, it is not something that can be reduced to a method,  limited to what happens in high schools, or to what college professors say in their classes. Pedagogy is fundamental not only to the struggle over culture but also, if not more importantly, the struggle over meaning and identity. It’s a struggle for consciousness, a struggle over the gist of agency, if not the future itself – a struggle to convince people that society is more than what it is, that the future doesn’t simply have to mimic the present.

SK: Henry, we’ve covered a lot of territory.  Is there anything we haven’t addressed that you would like to bring up before closing? 

HG: We need both a language of critique and a language of hope.  Critique is essential to what we do but it can never become so overwhelming that all we become are critics and nothing else. It is counterproductive for the left to engage in declarations of powerlessness, without creating as Jacques Rancière argues “new objects, forms, and spaces that thwart official expectations.” What we need to do is theorize, understand and fight for a society that is very different from the one in which we now live.  That means taking seriously the question of pedagogy as central to any notion of viable progressive politics; it means working collectively with others to build social movements that address a broader language of our society – questions of inequality and power (basically the two most important issues we can talk about now.)  And I think that we need to find ways to support young people because the most damage that’s going to be done is going to be heaped upon the next generations.  So what we’re really fighting for is not just democracy; we’re fighting for the future.  And so critique is not enough; we need a language of critique and we need a language of possibility to be able to go forward with this.


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