Sunday, May 28, 2006

Introductory Message

Hi all. Thank you for the invitation to participate; I really appreciate it. I am probably the junior member among the group, as a doctoral candidate in education and cultural studies in education at UCLA.

My interests are broad, but center around philosophy of education, critical pedagogy and the work and legacy of Paulo Freire, media literacy, critical theory and the intersection of technology and education. My dissertation is focused on cynicism and the ways that media and schooling "teach" cynicism and political disengagement to children. I then look at ways that education can intervene against cynicism and reinvigorate civic participation and the hope necessary for social transformation.

I argue in the dissertation that beyond efforts to combat false consciousness, we must seriously engage the endemic cynicism that despoils democracy and dams the channels to change. I argue for the role of teachers as public intellectuals, the need to combine action with critique and the necessity of a more affirmative politics that can combat the ahistorical determinism that predominates today.

At UCLA, I served as program officer for the Paulo Freire Institute for two years and previously worked as a senior research associate at an educational research non-profit. I have also worked as a grant writer, an ESL instructor in Barcelona, Spain and a freelancer, publishing over a hundred articles on movies, music, art and politics. In addition, I have an MA in Economics. And I write fiction in my spare time.

Some recent articles I have published include a critique of educational research, "How Objective is Objectivity?," an article on the potential contribution of Herbert Marcuse to education "Marcuse, Freire and Bloch: A Pedagogy of Hope," and a forthcoming article on multiple literacy education; in addition to several articles on the work of Paulo Freire and its contemporary relevance.

Anyway, I am very excited to participate and look forward to lively discourse and debate.


Rich Van Heertum


A. G. Rud said...


Thank you for this thoughtful and multiple layered intro message. We need a pic of you too!

Can you give a specific example of cynicism, and how is it distinguished from apathy or the boredom students may evince?

Can you give a specific strategy whereby a teacher may combat cynicism? As a public intellectual, do you mean by showing students that community activism, op ed pieces of letters to the editor, or other similar actions are possible and do have consequences in the world?

teacherken said...

As far as combatting cynicism, I share with my students my own participation in public discourse and invite them to do the same. I also bring in speakers from the real world to interact with my high school students. Several weeks ago in the space of 3 days my AP Government kids had 2 hours with Ari Berman of the Nation followed by 2 hours with Byron York of National Review. I believe in modelling my hopes and expectations for them, and it seems to make a difference, and to some degree overcome the natural cynicism with which many start.