Category Archives: Miscellaneous
Cultural Logic CFP: Learning Vietnam, Again
Call for Manuscripts
Learning Vietnam, Again
Rich Gibson, San Diego State University
E. Wayne Ross, University of British Columbia
January 2018, marks the 50th anniversary of the Tet uprising in Vietnam.
While American elites belittled Tet as a military failure (if they noted it at all—General Westmoreland insisted the Battle of Hue was really nothing), their myopic view of the many Tet battles reflected their past and current inability to connect all the factors of modern warfare: the political, economic, military, international, and cultural matters that the National Liberation Front always tied as one.
To recognize the courage, perseverance, and later victory of the Vietnamese over the many invading empires, we plan a special issue of Cultural Logic, “Learning Vietnam, Again.”
We also hope to contend with the false narratives built up since the US fled Vietnam in April, 1975. These would include the fairly well known myths such as the “spat upon veteran,” and the “stabbed in the back” stories, as well as the Obama administration’s more recent whitewash, neatly exposed by Nick Turse, and the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick PBS documentary “The Vietnam War.”
We seek essays that address any aspect of the Vietnam war, but are especially interested in pieces that link the war and education—in any way you can imagine.
After all, the core project of the Vietnamese revolutionaries was education, while on the US side, the effort was either military propaganda, or promoting ignorance. Essays might also relate the United States’ contemporary problems with insurgencies to the history of the wars on Vietnam—and the national education programs of today.
Submissions may include essays, interviews, reviews (books, films, and other media) or poetry. Please use any one of the commonly accepted scholarly formats (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, Humanities, etc.).
Deadline: February 1, 2018.
For more information or to submit manuscripts email the editors:
rg [at] richgibson.com
wayne.ross [at] ubc.ca
Cultural Logic, which has been on-line since 1997, is a non-profit, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal that publishes essays, interviews, poetry, reviews (books, films, other media), etc. by writers working within the Marxist tradition. The editors will also print responses to work published in earlier issues. Texts may be of varying length and may conform to any of the commonly accepted scholarly formats (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, Humanities, etc.). Because this is an interdisciplinary journal, we do not demand that contributors adhere to one particular format, with which they might be unfamiliar. Copyright on texts appearing in Cultural Logic remains with the author. These texts may be republished by the author provided that Cultural Logic is acknowledged as the original place of publication.
Texts appearing in Cultural Logic are indexed in MLA Bibliography, EBSCO Databases, MLA International Directory of Periodicals, International Progressive Publications Network (ippn). Cultural Logic is archived by universities participating in the LOCKSS project initiated by Stanford University. Direct correspondence to E. Wayne Ross, Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, University of British Columbia, 2125 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada. Email: email@example.com
Rethinking Alternatives to Neoliberalism in Education (ICCE 2017)
Earlier this month, I was a plenary speaker at the VII International Conference on Critical Education at the University of Athens (and Marasleios Pedagogical Academy of Athens), Greece. The conference theme was “Rethinking Alternatives to Neoliberalism in Education.”
The Athens newspaper Documento published an article on the conference by Anna Papadimitriou, which includes interviews with several conference plenary speakers including Dave Hill, Marnie Holborow, Grant Banfield and myself.
Documento, Ο νεοφιλελευθερισμός εισβάλλει σε σχολεια και πανεπιστημια [Neoliberalism invades schools and universities], July 2, 2017, pps. 33-35),
My talk was titled “Democratic Education in the Age of Empire: Critical Pedagogy in the Pursuit of Dangerous Citizenship.” Here is the abstract of the talk:
There is a disconnect between the rhetoric and reality of democracy in that subverts traditional approaches to democratic education. The tropes that have historically dominated the discourse on democracy and democratic education now amount to selling students (and ourselves) a lie about history and contemporary life. Our challenge is to re-imagine our roles as educators and find ways to create opportunities for students to create meaningful understandings of the world. Education is not about showing life to people, but bringing them to life. The aim is not getting students to listen to convincing lectures by experts, but getting them to speak for themselves in order to achieve, or at least strive for an equal degree of participation and a more democratic, equitable, and just future. This requires a new mindset, something I call dangerous citizenship.
Vancouver faces stark contrasts between funding for K to 12 and university
Vancouver faces stark contrasts between funding for K to 12 and university
October 7, 2016
Vancouver, the city of disparities, is faced with polar opposites in its educational system.
The contrast between K-12 schools and the university in Vancouver could not be more stark: The schools sinking in debt with rapidly declining enrolments and empty seats versus the university swimming in cash and bloating quotas to force excessive enrolments beyond capacity.
With central offices just 7km or 12 minutes apart, the two operate as if in different hemispheres or eras: the schools laying off teachers and planning to close buildings versus the university given a quota for preparing about 650 teachers for a glutted market with few to no jobs on the remote horizon in the largest city of the province.
There is a gateway from grade 12 in high school to grade 13 in the university but from a finance perspective there appears an unbreachable wall between village and castle.
Pundits and researchers are nonetheless mistaken in believing that the Vancouver schools’ current $22m shortfall is disconnected from the university’s $36m real estate windfall this past year.
The schools are begging for funds from the Liberals, who, after saying no to K-12, turn around to say yes to grades 13-24 and pour money into the University of British Columbia, no questions asked.
There may be two ministries in government, Education and Advanced Education; there is but one tax-funded bank account.
At first glance, the cheques suggest parity across the Vancouver system. For 2016-17, the schools, with about 49,000 students get a base operating grant of $436m and the university, with about 42,000 students gets a base of $420m. So what’s the problem?
One is left to birth and migration rates while the other is manipulated with enrolment quotas. For each decrease of enrolment in the Vancouver schools the University ironically matches with an increase of teachers for the job market.
UBC’s Faculty of Education, which could be financially assisting the schools to meet this historic shortfall, is instead bloated with a $2.6m deficit partially to maintain a quota for a steady flood of new teachers into Vancouver.
With the building boom at UBC, in March the Faculty of Education occupied a floor and a half of the new Ponderosa Commons building, despite about two floors of unoccupied or underutilized space in its Scarfe building. Education’s share of the $57m building is $18m.
At the same time 21 Vancouver schools were scheduled for closure or demolition to meet a shortfall the government gave a $19.5m windfall to renovate UBC’s Life Sciences building.
Wheeling and dealing, the Liberal government is robbing Peter to pay Paul, demoralizing Petra to pump up Paulette.
UBC appears to be throwing money around like it grows on Endowment Land trees. With the Vancouver real estate boom, it does.
The short history of UBC at 100 years is that it was born spoiled with a sizeable estate in 1915-1916 and remains spoiled in 2016-2017.
Through the stroke of a pen in 1858, Queen Victoria created the colony of British Columbia and transformed First Nations traditional territory into Crown Land. In 1907, an amendment to the BC Land Act granted 3,000 acres (5 sq. miles) to a University Endowment.
UBC property sits precariously on unceded Musqueam territory aggressively developed by settlers into prime Vancouver real estate over the past century and most aggressively since 1988 when the UBC Real Estate Corporation (Properties Trust) was established. In 1994 UBC converted 200 acres of its campus and Endowment Lands into condo and shopping centre development.
By 2003, as University Hill Secondary school was crammed and the urban plan expanded, so flush with cash was the university that its Properties Trust offered to bankroll renovations to its National Research Council (NRC) building and charge the busted VSB a monthly lease. In 2008, the Liberals stepped in, effectively saving the university from a $37.9m renovation.
The Vancouver Schools have had to defer $700m of building maintenance costs while UBC has announced plans for an $822 million building boom on it campus, with generous commitments from the Ministry.
As in real estate goes demographics: from boom to bust, the empty seats in Vancouver schools will inevitably be empty seats in the university. Like the VSB, it won’t be long before UBC begins to schedule the closure or demolition of empty academic buildings, that is, if someone opens the doors to realize there’s no one inside.
With more and more faculty members preferring to work at home, save for staff, empty offices are making hollow buildings the norm.
The Ministry is now threatening to fire the School Board for suspending school closure and demolition plans but when the University Board colludes to hide decisions from access and scrutiny the Ministry looks the other way.
Vancouver is now desperate to resolve the deepest school finance crisis and worst university administrative legitimacy crisis in 100 years. False distinctions between the two or the success of one at the expense of the other are at the root of the crises.
It’s the story of Vancouver: Broke and barely making it versus fixed, rich, and laughing all the way to the bank: 99% versus 1%.
Stephen Petrina and E. Wayne Ross are professors in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
There is plenty of guilt to go around. You can start with this list …
CFP: AVPC 2016: Visual Pedagogies and Digital Cultures
Call for Papers AVPC 2016
We are pleased to announce the Second Call for Papers for the first Association of Visual Pedagogies Conference AVPC 2016: Visual Pedagogies and Digital Cultures. The conference is hosted by the University of Applied Sciences in Zagreb, Croatia, on June 18-19 2016.
Peer reviewed conference articles will be published in The Video Journal of Education & Pedagogy (Springer) and a invited selection from the conference will be published as a special issue by conference organisers in consultation with the Editor-in-Chief, Michael A. Peters.
Please send an abstract of no more than 400 words to Petar Jandrić (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 15 February 2016.
Conference website: http://avpc.tvz.hr/
We look forward to meeting you in Zagreb!
Petar Jandrić, University of Applied Sciences, Croatia, Michael A. Peters, University of Waikato, New Zealand, Tina Besley, University of Waikato, New Zealand, Jayne White, University of Waikato, New Zealand, Kathrin Otrel-Cass, Aalborg University, Denmark, John O’Neill, Massey University, New Zeland, Milan Bajić, University of Applied Sciences, Croatia.
Teaching and the ideology of neutrality
This week, in my course on secondary social studies curriculum, we discussed various ideological stances toward curriculum. Predictably, the issue of “neutrality” in social studies teaching came up.
Indeed, my students reported that as part of their professional preparation in the UBC B.Ed. program they have been repeatedly told that teachers should always strive for neutrality in their classrooms, I disagree.
Teaching (and curriculum) cannot be separated from politics. And, adopting the ideology of neutrality is to surrender agency and professionalism as a classroom teacher.
The ideology of neutrality is based upon theories of knowledge and conceptions of democracy that constrain rather than widen civic participation and has consequences that include passive, rather than active, learning; representation of democratic citizenship as a spectator project; and ultimately the maintenance of status quo inequalities in society.
Below is an excerpt from a recent paper I wrote with Kevin D. Vinson that takes up the issue.
Ideology of Neutrality, or What Exactly Are We Protecting Students From?
… Educators often eschew openly political or ideological agendas for teaching and schools as inappropriate or “unprofessional.” The question, however, is not whether to allow political discourse in schools or to encourage particular social visions in the classroom, but rather what kind of social visions will be taught?
There is a misguided and unfortunate tendency in our society to believe that activities that strengthen or maintain the status quo are neutral or at least non-political, while activities that critique or challenge the status quo are “political” and inappropriate. For example, for a company to advertise its product as a good thing, something consumers should buy, is not viewed as a political act. But, if a consumer group takes out an advertisement charging that the company’s product is not good, perhaps even harmful, this is often understood as political action.
This type of thinking permeates our society, particularly when it comes to schooling and teaching. “Stick to the facts.” “Guard against bias.” “Maintain neutrality.” These are admonitions or goals expressed by some teachers when asked to identify the keys to successful teaching. Many of these same teachers (and teacher educators) conceive of their roles as designing and teaching courses to ensure that students are prepared to function non-disruptively in society as it exists. This is thought to be a desirable goal, in part, because it strengthens the status quo and is seen as being an “unbiased” or “neutral” position. Many of these same teachers view their work in school as apolitical, a matter of effectively covering the curriculum, imparting academic skills, and preparing students for whatever high-stakes tests they might face. Often these teachers have attended teacher education programs designed to ensure that they were prepared to adapt to the status quo in schools.
Anyone who has paid attention to the debates on curriculum and school reform knows that schooling is a decidedly political enterprise (DeLeon & Ross, 2010; Mathison & Ross, 2008a; Mathison & Ross, 2008b; Ross & Gibson, 2007; Ross & Marker, 2005a, 2005b, 2005c). The question in teaching (as well as teacher education and school reform) is not whether to allow political discourse in schools or whether to advocate or not, but the nature and extent of political discourse and advocacy. “The question is not whether to encourage a particular social vision in the classroom but what kind of social vision it will be” (Teitelbaum, 1998, p. 32).
It is widely believed that neutrality, objectivity, and unbiasedness are largely the same thing and always good when it comes to schools and teaching. But, consider the following. Neutrality is a political category—that is—not supporting any factions in a dispute. Holding a neutral stance in a conflict is no more likely to ensure rightness or objectivity than any other and may be a sign of ignorance of the issues. Michael Scriven (1991) puts it this way: “Being neutral is often a sign of error in a given dispute and can be a sign of bias; more often it is a sign of ignorance, sometimes of culpable or disabling ignorance” (p. 68). Demanding neutrality of schools and teachers comes at a cost. As Scriven points out there are “clearly situations in which one wants to say that being neutral is a sign of bias” (p. 67). For example, being neutral in the debate on the occurrence of the Holocaust; a debate on atomic theory with Christian Scientists; or a debate with fundamentalist Christians over the origins of life and evolution. To rephrase Scriven, it seems better not to require that schools include only neutral teachers at the cost of including ignoramuses or cowards and getting superficial teaching and curriculum.
Absence of bias is not absence of convictions in an area, thus neutrality is not objectivity. To be objective is to be unbiased or unprejudiced. People are often misled to think that anyone who comes into a discussion with strong views about an issue cannot be unprejudiced. The key question, however, is whether and how the views are justified (e.g., Scriven, 1994).
“A knowledge claim gains objectivity…to the degree that it is the product of exposure to the fullest range of criticisms and perspectives” (Anderson, 1995, p. 198). Or as John Dewey (1910) argued, thoughts and beliefs that depend upon authority (e.g., tradition, instruction, imitation) and are not based on a survey of evidence are prejudices, prejudgments. Thus, achieving objectivity in teaching and the curriculum requires that we take seriously alternative perspectives and criticisms of any particular knowledge claim. How is it possible to have or strive for objectivity in schools where political discourse is circumscribed and neutrality is demanded? Achieving pedagogical objectivity is no easy task. The objective teacher considers the most persuasive arguments for different points of view on a given issue; demonstrates evenhandedness; focuses on positions that are supported by evidence, etc.
This kind of approach is not easy, and often requires significant quantities of time, discipline, and imagination. In this light, it is not surprising that objectivity is sometimes regarded as impossible, particularly with contemporary social issues in which the subject matter is often controversial and seemingly more open to multiple perspectives than in the natural sciences. However, to borrow a phrase from Karl Popper, objectivity in teaching can be considered a “regulative principle,” something toward which one should strive but which one can never attain. (Corngold & Waddington, 2006, p. 6)
The “ideology of neutrality” that dominates current thought and practices in schools (and in teacher education) is sustained by theories of knowledge and conceptions of democracy that constrain rather than widen civic participation in our society and functions to obscure political and ideological consequences of so-called “neutral” schooling, teaching, and curriculum. These consequences include conceptions of the learner as passive; democratic citizenship as a spectator project; and ultimately the maintenance of status quo inequalities in society.
For more on this issue, you may want to read this piece: “Redrawing the Lines: The Case Against Traditional Social Studies Instruction.”
‘Reclaiming the School as Pedagogic Form’
Institute for Critical Education Studies
Faculty of Education
University of British Columbia
‘Reclaiming the School as Pedagogic Form’
Dr. Jan Masschelein
(Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)
May 12, 2015
12:00 – 2:00pm
(Education Building, UBC Vancouver)
In my contribution I will use the word ‘school’ to refer to a specific pedagogic form i.e. a concrete way (including architecture, practices, technologies, pedagogical figures) to gather people and things (arranging their company and presence) so that, on the one hand, it allows for people to experience themselves as being able to take care of things, and, at the same time and on the other hand, to be exposed to something outside of themselves (the common world). It is a very specific combination of taking distance and (allowing for) re-attachment. As a consequence, the term ‘school’ is not used (as is very often the case) for so-called normalizing institutions or machineries of reproduction in the hands of the cultural or economic elites. There is reproduction and normalizing, of course, but then the school does not (or does no longer) function as a pedagogic form.
Put differently: schools are particular ways to deal with the new generations and to take care of the common world that is disclosed for them. If education is the response of a society to the arrival of newcomers, as Hannah Arendt formulates it, and if schools are particular ways of doing this, ways that are different from initiation and socialization, ways that offer the new generations the possibility for renewal and the opportunity of making its own future, i.e. a future that is not imposed or defined (destined) by the older one, ways that imply to accept to be slowed down (in order to find, or even, make a destiny), ways that accept that education is about the common world (and not individual resources), then we could state that the actual ‘learning policies’ of the different nation states as well as of international bodies are in fact threatening the very existence of schools (including school teachers).
To reclaim the school, then, is not simply about restoring classic or old techniques and practices, but about actually trying to develop or experiment with old and new techniques and practices in view of designing pedagogic forms that work under current conditions, that is, that actually slow down, and put society at a distance from itself.
Jan Masschelein is head of the Laboratory for Education and Society, and of the research group Education, Culture and Society at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). His research concerns the public and societal role of education and schooling, the role of the university, the changing experiences of time and space in the age of the network, the educational meaning of cinema and camera, the architecture of schools and architecture of the learning environment, a pedagogy of attention, the notion of ‘pedagogy’, the pedagogical role of teachers and social workers. His book, In Defense of School (with Maarten Simons) is available at http://goo.gl/NN4XeD.
CFP: Learning, technologies, and time in the age of global neoliberal capitalism
Call for Papers
SPECIAL ISSUE OF KNOWLEDGE CULTURES
Learning, Technologies, and Time in the Age of Global Neoliberal Capitalism
The study of time, technology and learning has preoccupied scholars across disciplines for decades. From the psychological impacts of networked gadgets to the nature of perception, attention, communication and social interaction, through the paradigm of 24/7 teacher/student availability, to the acceleration of study programs and research, these themes are dialectically intertwined with human learning in the age of global neoliberal capitalism.
However, the ‘social’ and the ‘technical’ are still frequently discussed as separate spheres in relation to human learning, rather than as mutually shaping of each other within capitalism. Using various critical approaches, this volume invites authors to ask diverse probing questions about the multi-dimensional, individual and social experience of time, by teachers and learners of all kinds, imbued in contemporary neoliberal technoscapes.
This Special Issue of Knowledge Cultures invites authors to explore these questions especially in relation to all kinds of human learning, including, but not limited to, the formal process of schooling. We are particularly interested in situating the relationships between human learning, social acceleration, and digital technologies in the context of global neoliberal capitalism – and in developing viable alternatives / seeds of resistance.
Working at the intersection of technology, psychology, sociology, history, politics, philosophy, arts, science fiction, and other related areas, we welcome contributions from a wide range of disciplines and inter-, trans- and anti-disciplinary research methodologies.
All contributions should be original and should not be under consideration elsewhere. Authors should be aware that they are writing for an international audience and should use appropriate language. Manuscripts should not exceed 6000 words. For further information and authors’ guidelines please see
All papers will be peer-reviewed, and evaluated according to their significance, originality, content, style, clarity and relevance to the journal.
Please submit your initial abstract (300-400 words) by email to the Guest Editors.
Sarah Hayes, Centre for Learning, Innovation and Professional Practice, Aston University, UK (email@example.com)
Petar Jandrić, Department of Informatics & Computing, Polytechnic of Zagreb, Croatia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1 May 2015 – Deadline for abstracts to editors
1 June 2015 – Deadline for feedback from reviewers
1 November 2015 – Deadline for submissions/full papers
1 January 2016 – Deadline for feedback from reviewers
1 March 2016 – Final deadline for amended papers
Publication date – late 2016 / early 2017
Ursula K. Le Guin on art, freedom, and the dangers of capitalism
Ursula K. Le Guin’s acceptance speech at the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards on November 19, 2014 – simply, eloquently describes the commodification of art and the destructive effects of capitalism.
The parallels to the work of teachers is easy enough to see. Capitalism turns “writers into producers of market commodities rather than creators of art,” just as it turns teachers into producers of human capital rather than free human beings associated with one another on terms of equality.
“I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope.”
Le Guin continued, “we will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.” We need those teachers too.
We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.”