Saturday, September 02, 2006

inside higher ed.

Here is a rather disturbing article about the report from the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which was approved by the members of the American Council on Education in early August. That is, until last week when Gerri Elliott, corporate vice president at Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector division, decided she didn't like the inclusion of references to open source software and open content projects in higher education.

The report's original paragraph (with which Elliott took issue):
The commission encourages the creation of incentives to promote the development of open-source and open-content projects at universities and colleges across the United States, enabling the open sharing of educational materials from a variety of institutions, disciplines, and educational perspectives. Such a portal could stimulate innovation, and serve as the leading resource for teaching and learning. New initiatives such as OpenCourseWare, the Open Learning Initiative, the Sakai Project, and the Google Book project hold out the potential of providing universal access both to general knowledge and to higher education.


In terms of local news...that is, my project. I've decided that I want to create more of a two-way street. So far I've mainly been criticizing critical pedaogy for its relative ignorance of/toward the corporatized University as discussed by many scholars including Bill Readings (his specific rendition of the corporate U as University of Excellence is key to my project), Wesley Shumar, Stanley Aronowitz, Michael Apple, and Leslie and Slaughter (to name a few). But in thinking more about this I find it interesting that Readings so clearly wants to distance himself from both critical pedaogy and cultural studies, and yet I think he may have had a rather narrow view of what critical pedaogy does and can do. There are critical pedaogogues out there doing work much like the work Readings wants to see in his "scene of teaching." Joe Marshall Hardin seems to me one example. At the end of Opening Spaces, Hardin spends a good deal of time rejecting oppositional, resistant, and emancipatory discourses and pedagogical approaches, claiming they only serve "to support the hegemony of dominant ideology in a perpetual dialogue of left versus right" (113). To me this seems quite relevant and similar to Readings' idea of a community of dissensus, which "would seek to make its heteronomy, its differences, more complex. To put this another way, such a community would have to be understood on the model of dependency rather than emancipation" (190). This gets a little confusing here because Readings' idea of "dependency" could be mistaken with Hardin's (and Laclau's) formulation of right and left as "dependent on each other; they serve as two sides of the same coin" (107). But all in all, I feel that if Readings had the opportunity to read and/or interact with Hardin (and others like him), he might have a slightly different view of critical pedaogy and cultural studies.

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