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Education Not for Sale

Education Not for Sale

CRITICAL PEDAGOGY VS. CAPITAL: REIGNITING THE CONVERSATION

CRITICAL THEORIES IN THE 21st CENTURY: A CONFERENCE OF TRANSFORMATIVE PEDAGOGIES

4th Annual Conference 2015, November 6th & 7th 

Location: West Chester University, 700 South High Street, West Chester, PA 19383, USA

Two Days of Discussion and Music!

Bill Ayers

Bill Ayers

Opening Conference Keynote:  Bill Ayers
Professor Ayers is a Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago (retired). He is a member of the executive committee of the Faculty Senate and founder of both the Small Schools Workshop and the Center for Youth and Society. Dr. Ayers has taught courses in interpretive and qualitative research, oral history, creative non-fiction, urban school change, and teaching and the modern predicament. To learn more about Dr. Ayers and his work please visit his webpage at: http://billayers.org/biographyhistory/

 

Dave Hill

Dave Hill

Closing Conference Keynote: Dave Hill
Dave Hill is Research Professor of Education at Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, England, and Visiting Professor of Education at the Universities of Athens, Greece, Middlesex, London.  Dave is a Marxist academic and political activist in different countries, in particular with trade unions and left / socialist / Marxist groups in Greece, Turkey and Ireland as well as England. His academic work focuses on issues of neoliberalism, capitalism, class, `race’, resistance and socialist education/ education for equality; critical pedagogy/critical education. He founded in 2003 and chief edits the free online peer-juried journal, the Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, www.jceps.com, a free online, scholarly, peer-juried international journal that has had nearly a million downloads in 10 years.

Musical Artists: Marcel Cartier, Magik, and Squid Brothers Inc.

Call For Papers
The 4th Annual Conference on Critical Theories in the 21st Century aims to reinvigorate the field of critical pedagogy. The primary question driving this conference is: What is to be done to make critical pedagogy an effective educational weapon in the current struggle against capitalism and imperialism?

There is no doubt that we are at a critical juncture in history in terms of the limits of nature’s vital ecosystems, the physical limits of the progressive accumulation of capital, and the deepening reactionary ideology and scapegoating that exacerbates the oppression of youth of color. If critical pedagogy is to play a significant role in intervening in the current context, then a sharpened sense of purpose and direction is needed.

Squid Brothers Inc.

Squid Brothers Inc.

Some examples of possible topics include:

  • Marxism
  • Post-structuralism/post-modernism
  • Anarchism
  • Challenging the unholy trinity of state, capital, and religion
  • Class and the capital-labor dialectic
  • Identity and economics
  • Hierarchical and vertical forms of organization (i.e., vanguards versus networks)
  • Reform versus revolution
  • Socialism, communism, & democracy
  • Affect theory and the new materialisms
  • The knowledge economy, post-Fordism, and “cognitive capitalism”
  • Critical geography

While this conference will include important presentations and debates in critical pedagogy, it will not be limited to this focus. In other words, as critical theory becomes more inclusive, global, and all encompassing, this conference welcomes more than just academics as important contributors. That is, we recognize students and youth groups as possessing authentic voices based on their unique relationship to capitalism and will therefore be open to them as presenters and discussion leaders.

While this conference will include important presentations and challenging discussions based in critical pedagogy, it will not be limited to this focus. In other words, as critical theory becomes more inclusive, global, and all encompassing, this conference welcomes more than just academics as important contributors.

Please submit abstract proposals (500-1000 words) to: Curry Malott (cmalott@wcupa.edu)

Proposal due date: September 27th, 2015

 

Conference website: http://ct21st.org/

Curry Malott

Curry Malott

***END***

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Ruth Rikowski @ Academia: http://lsbu.academia.edu/RuthRikowski

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Ruth Rikowski at Serendipitous Moments: http://ruthrikowskiim.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Bill AYERS

Bill AYERS

ANOTHER LEARNING IS POSSIBLE

University of Winchester, June 6th, 2015

Internationally renowned educational thinkers discuss how we might redirect our educational priorities towards learners who are creative, integrated, thoughtful and engaged.

Forced learning is destructive. It is destructive for our children, our society, our planet. An insistent government and teacher-lead diet of tracts and facts is sapping the creativity and motivation from learners. This major conference seeks to discuss and promulgate alternatives to the pedagogy peddled by all the major parties in the UK, and by successive governments in their Sisyphean search for international pre-eminence in spurious league tables. Some of the world’s foremost educational critics will open the discussion on how we might together redirect our educational priorities towards learners who are creative, integrated, thoughtful and motivated.

Day One features a series of keynotes from the indomitable US educational critic, Bill Ayers, along with a presentation from the great Harvard educator Eleanor Duckworth, and activist, academic and child advocate Bernadine Dohrn.

Those staying for Day Two will continue the discussion and take part in participant-centred workshops designed to deepen understanding of alternative pedagogies. Whatever the challenges we face, this conference proclaims, another learning is possible.

For more details see:

http://store.winchester.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=2&deptid=10&catid=9&prodid=242

Bill Ayers, legendary and controversial Marxist, social justice campaigner and educational critic.

Eleanor Duckworth, the great Harvard educator and one-time colleague of Jean Piaget

Bernadine Dohrn, activist, academic and child advocate: http://www.aivit.org/bernardine-dohrn/

Bernadine Dohrn

Bernadine Dohrn

 

More speakers to be announced.

**END**

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

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Online Publications at The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

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Peter McLaren

ACADEMIC REPRESSION

http://www.akpress.org/2010/items/academicrepression

Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex

Peter McLaren (Editor), Steven Best (Editor), and Anthony J. Nocella II (Editor)

The extreme repressive attacks on Churchill, Finklstein, Fontan, Best, Massad, the “Dirty Thirty,” and many others represented in this book demonstrate the repressive logic of “US democracy,” whereby political elites, the mass media, and the education system establish and police the parameters of acceptable discourse. Churchill became America’s own Salman Rushdie terrorized by the fatwa of the right. Unprecedented for the media coverage given to a professor (in a mass media culture that virtually ignores substantive ideas in favor of spectacle and sensationalism) the Churchill affair was, however, just one of many cases of attacks on academic freedom that eerily evoke the tyranny of the McCarthy era where actors were blacklisted and professors were fired for having even liberal views or showing dissent against state repression. While there has been much research on political repression carried out by the Bush administration, FBI, and various law enforcement agencies, there has been little discussion on political 
repression in academia and how the shockwaves of 9/11 have reverberated throughout academia. This anthology brings together prominent academics who contribute original essays commissioned for this volume. The writers are known and respected figures in their respective fields, and many have experienced academic repression first-hand.

This volume aims to be a cogent intervention in debates over free speech, culture wars, and academic freedom. Given that the importance of free speech to academic life, and the crucial role universities play in the intellectual life of cultures as a whole, a volume addressing the political environment of universities in the current period promises to make a significant contribution.

Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex (AK Press), is a much needed book on a topic that has seen little attention. Since 9/11 the Bush Administration has ventured to every campus influencing and forcing change by administration to handover faculty, staff, and student work to be flagged as possible signs of threatening behavior. While there have been numerous books on academic freedom, that topic is outdated and something that arguably does not exist on U.S. campus soil anymore. This volume addresses not only overt attacks on critical or radical thinking, it also – following socioeconomic trends unfolding for decades – engages the broad structural determinants of academic culture. Slowly but surely, the university is being transformed from a space for free thinking, experimentation, and philosophical education in the broadest sense into a narrow, restrictive, utilitarian institution that serves the technical needs of corporations, government, science and technology, and the military. Thus, as emphasized by numerous contributors, the ultimate cause of repression is not the academy itself, but contemporary capitalist society as a whole, which strongly shapes the structure, function, and priorities of higher education. This volume shows that while universities are crucial sites of socialization in capitalist ideologies and utilitarian performance, they are not monolithic citadels or homogeneous systems of thought that grind out in assembly-line fashion each and every student into the service of capitalism. For just as universities can train tomorrow’s FBI and CIA agents, so they can breed the next generation of radicals, resisters, saboteurs, and revolutionaries.

The university is a contested political space for three reasons. First, it is home to a diversity of viewpoints, ranging from far-right to far-left, from Christian to Muslim, from white to black, Indian, or Chicano/a, from speciesist to animal liberationist, and from heterosexual to gay/lesbian. Second, despite broad and growing trends of repression, there are varying degrees of tolerance for the discussion of non-mainstream or radical ideas in classrooms and campus life. Third, however uncritical, conditioned, and conformist some students might be, they have the potential (often actualized) to discuss, debate, and think critically about issues such as US colonialism, slavery, sexism, and speciesism, and professors, staff, and students – consciously or unconsciously – cannot socialize all of them into their own worldviews and politics.

— Nocella, Best, and McLaren

About the Editors:
Anthony J. Nocella, II is completing his doctoral work at Syracuse University. He is a Visiting Scholar of SUNY Cortland’s Center for Ethics, Peace and Social Justice (CEPS) and is teaching classes in Sociology and Criminology at Le Moyne College.

Steven Best is Associate Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Texas, El Paso.

Peter McLaren is Professor of Education, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE BOOK:

This courageous and chilling book reminds us that the Academy is always a context for intellectual exchange and political struggle. Don’t miss it! — Cornel West, Princeton University

This book takes us into the Corporate University, and it’s not a pretty sight. From firing critical thinkers to putting students in debt, the system is failing America. Time to take it back by fighting for free higher education. — Jim Hightower, populist speaker and editor of the “Hightower Lowdown”

The university should be a place of freedom not a battlefield where the military industrial complex is launching its most violent attack yet on the future of education. Nocella, Best, and McLaren shows us that education must be protected if we want peace and social justice for the world. Read now! — Cindy Sheehan, Peace Activist and Founder of “Gold Star Families for Peace”

To the litany of claims by academics that the university is a safe haven for intellectual and political dissent, this book offers a convincing counter-argument. Academic Repression is a long overdue collective study of the long and sorry history of violations of academic freedom, iconoclastic thought and political dissent in US institutions of higher education. The editors have assembled an impressive group of scholars who, often through personal experience as much as analytic acuity, have supplied us with commentary as much as documentation of the central thesis of the book. This book should be required reading in all of the social sciences, humanities and education courses. —
Stanley Aronowitz, author of “The Knowledge Factory: Dismantling the Corporate University and Creating True Higher Learning”

Absolutely and utterly indispensible as we chart a way forward and attempt to finally turn the page on an era best left in the dustbin of history. It’s a first round knock out. — Dave Zirin, author APHOS

For over half a century, matters of knowledge and education have been central to the political struggles shaping our world, and the university has been a primary battleground. This collection is a chilling and powerful survey of contemporary battles, their stakes and possibilities. We should all be scared, and we should all concerned enough to take a stand. — Dr. Lawrence Grossberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Using the tired canards of anti-semitism, terrorism and radicalism, rightwing zealots are carrying out a merciless campaign of ideological cleansing on American campuses, often with the shameful complicity of university administrators. Academic Repression takes you to the frontlines of this fierce battle for the mind, telling stories of
purges, institutional cowardice and resistance. Here at last is a strategic plan for how to fight back against the New McCarthyites. Read it twice and then throw the book at them. — Jeffrey St. Clair, author Born Under a Bad Sky, co-editor of CounterPunch

Freedom of speech in the academy is a cornerstone of democracy — fascism always creeps closely behind intellectual repression, and we are not immune from the virus. If you want to understand how rocky our freedoms are today, pick up this book, read it, and join the fight to end censorship in all of its imperialist forms. — Joshua Frank, co-author with Jeffrey St. Clair of the forthcoming Green Scare: The Government’s New War on Environmentalism

The powers-that-be are uncomfortable with academic freedom because when one investigates any political, social, economic or even scientific issue thoroughly, a leftwing analysis will tend to emerge. Thinking is dangerous for them. This book is full of the stories and observations of some of the greatest thinkers alive today. — David Rovics, Singer-Songwriter

The editors have drawn together a diverse and competent group of scholars to assess critically the climate of academic repression. This is an essential book for anyone with a deep concern for the future of the academy. It will help raise awareness of crucial issues that face the universities. We ignore this challenge at our peril. — Dr. Andrew Fitz-Gibbon, Director, Center for Ethics, Peace and Social Justice, SUNY Cortland

As the editors and contributors of this valuable collection make clear, American academia has long been a combat zone, and never more than today. Eternal vigilance, and constant struggle, remain the watchwords if the free expression of thought upon which a good society depends is to be realized. — Joel Kovel, author of “Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine”

—————————————————

CONTRIBUTORS TO THE BOOK:

William Armaline

John Asimakopoulos

Bill Ayers

Liat Ben-Moshe

Michael Bérubé

Carl Boggs

Marc Bousquet

A. Peter Castro

Ward Churchill

Dana Cloud

Sumi E. Colligan

Maria E. Cotera

Christian Davenport

Victoria Fontan

Takis Fotopoulos

Henry Giroux

Adam Habib

Joy James

Robert Jensen

Richard Kahn

Caroline Kaltefleiter

Doug Kellner

Mark LeVine

Bill Martin

Peter McLaren

Micere M. Githae Mugo

Mechthild Nagel

Cary Nelson

Michael Parenti

Emma Perez

Mark Rupert

Rik Scarce

Deric Shannon

Stephen Sheehi

Amory Starr

Gregory Tropea

Ali Zaidi

Howard Zinn

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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The Rouge Forum – Update 20th May 2009

Rouge Forum Update: War, Decay and Sane Resistance!

A Message from Rich Gibson 

Dear Friends,

We will circulate a full report from the Rouge Forum Conference at Eastern Michigan University over the weekend. This is a very brief preliminary report from the student newspaper:
http://www.easternecho.com/content/rouge-forum-discusses-youth-education-emu-0

On the Education Front:

http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/may/19/ca-special-election-051909/?california&zIndex=101745&dsq=9568515#comment-9568515

The California Teachers Association and NEA bosses wasted more than $12.2 million on their outrageous tax the poor scam that failed completely and, worse, managed to convince even more poor and working people that organized education workers are actually enemies. Nice work, CTA.

Meanwhile, UTLA managed to cower their way out of what was to be last Friday’s mass walkout, fearful of a judge’s order against it.

Everyone should be clear on this. The only illegal job action is one that fails. If thousands of teachers walked out, the judge would do nearly nothing, indeed nothing except try to fine CTA. So? CTA is not a bank and CTA members can picket judges’ homes.

The Green Dot Takeover: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-greendot11-2009may11,0,3289443.story

Since UTLA and NEA have done so little to build a base among poor and working class parents and kids, and since AFT loves Green Dot, this plan to seize the school system is conceivable.

And it is another move from the LATimes to attack the rising militancy of the education workers who have a walkout scheduled this week. There are thoughtful and active alternatives to all this … http://www.rougeforumconference.org/
        
Obama placed Bob Bobb, paid jointly by the Broad Foundation and the Detroit Public Schools, in charge of DPS. Then The One declared Detroit “Ground Zero,” in the education wars. Bobb announced a plan to federalize DPS. Would that be a first? http://www.susanohanian.org/show_nclb_outrages.html?id=3621

On the Perpetual War Front (the education agenda is a war agenda):

Obamagogue To Cover up Torture Photos: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/white-house-wants-a-delay-in-the-release-of-detainee-photos/?hp

Escobar: Pipelineistan Part 2: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175071/pepe_escobar_pipelineistan_goes_af_pak

On the Fake Radicals Front:

Once the Weathermen were liberals (and police agents) with bombs. Terrorists who opposed the hard work that it takes to build a mass class conscious movement to transcend the system of capital. Now, they are just liberals without bombs. But, unlike Billy Ayers and the rest of the Weathermen, at least Mark Rudd admits he and his ganglet destroyed the Students for a Democratic Society on the eve of the biggest outpouring of mass action from 1950 on. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/books/review/Barrett-t.html

On the Organized Decay is an Element of Fascism Front:

Detroit Photo Essay: Who is next? http://inmotion.magnumphotos.com/essay/detroit-troubled-city

Neighbors Prevent Firefighters from Saving Detroit Drug Den: http://www.detnews.com/article/20090518/METRO01/905180378/Neighbors-harass-Detroit-fire-crews-fighting-blaze-at-drug-house

Foreclosures hit high in April http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/may/13/us-foreclosure-rates-051309/?california&zIndex=98434

The troubling reality that fascism in the past has sometimes been a popular mass movement: The Third Reich at War:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/17/books/review/Reich-t.html?pagewanted=2&ref=books

On the “This is not, not, for sure, not a depression, it’s ah, well, ahem,” Front:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/17/books/review/Rauch-t.html?ref=books

Tickled by the NYTimes reassurance that this is not, surely not, absolutely not, could not be, a GREAT depression, it’s just a depression. And good time are right around the corner.

On the Unions Became What They Claimed to Set Out to Oppose Front:

UAW Won’t Strike Chrysler Until 2015: http://www.freep.com/article/20090513/BUSINESS01/90513086/UAW+won+t+strike+Chrysler+through+2015

You don’t need to pay a union to surrender. You can throw up your hands and do that alone. Concessions do not save jobs. They just make bosses want more. The UAW is a prime example. When they say cut back, we should say, Fight Back!

The Torment and Demise of the United Auto Workers Union: http://clogic.eserver.org/2006/gibson.html

Unions are unfit to meet the crisis at hand. While it may be important to have one toe in a union in order to meet people and build a base for real change, it is equally important to have ten toes out of the union—in an organization that can connect reason, passion, and power. Like the Rouge Forum. Please spread the word. There is no single “Line” of the RF. We have many voices and many varying talents.

Here are the last two stanzas to the great workers’ song Solidarity Forever:

They have taken untold millions
that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle
not a single wheel can turn.
We can break their haughty power;
gain our freedom when we learn
That the Union makes us strong.

In our hands is placed a power
greater than their hoarded gold;
Greater than the might of armies,
magnified a thousand-fold.
We can bring to birth a new world
from the ashes of the old
For the Union makes us strong.

Well, the union didn’t make us strong, but the rest is on the mark and the struggle continues.

Thanks to Joe Bishop and the Eastern Michigan volunteers, Adam and Gina, WayneO,  Nancye, Patricia,  Faith and Craig, Greg (whose speech will be up by the weekend), Pat B, Bill-Scott–the youths-and Marty, Paul, Cory, Connie,  Travis, Roger, Doug S and Doug Y, Gil G (that book is terrific) Billy X, Donna, Sherry, Zena, Em, Candace, Rebecca, Sonia, Maria, Chris (what a long drive), Susan O and H, O and Ido and the baby, Steve and Perry for getting things going and you too Kevin and Marc, Michael who is a smart guy and good friend, the heroic Sergei and the secretaries, Jeremiah, The Uprising and Tainted Machine, Staughton Lynd who is a beacon of good sense, Marty G who should have been there, Big M, Bob and Tommie, and all who made the conference a delight.

Good luck to us, every one.
Rich Gibson

 

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The Ockress: http://www.theockress.com

The Education Agenda is a War Agenda: Connecting Reason to Power and Power to Resistance

 

Rich Gibson and Wayne E. Ross have written an excellent paper that links the US education agenda with its foreign policy and the current economic crisis.

 

You can view it at: http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/20965

 

Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

Progress or Regress?

The Future of the Left under Obama

 

FREE and open to the public

Saturday, December 6th 2008

3:00pm

 

 

Silver Center (NYU)
Room 405
100 Washington Square East

 

 

 

Panelists include:

Chris Cutrone (Platypus)
Stephen Duncombe (author of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy)
Pat Korte (New School SDS)
Charles Post (Solidarity)
Paul Street (author of Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics, 2008)

 

 

The Platypus Affiliated Society in New York presents a moderated panel discussion and audience Q&A to critically evaluate the widespread assumption that the election of Barack Obama presents an opportunity for today’s Leftists. Asking how opportunity can be distinguished from opportunism, Platypus has invited several intellectuals and activists to publicly think through the foreseeable pitfalls and potentials posed by the passing of the Bush-era into the age of Obama.

 

 

http://www.platypus1917.com

 

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Rikowski web site, The Flow of Ideas is at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk  

 

On the ‘Defense of Bill Ayers’

 

Rich Gibson

 

The “Defense of Bill Ayers” is hardly a call to give comfort to someone under a ferocious attack. It is true that Republicans seek to use Ayers’ ties to Obama to smear Obama as an Other, a de-demagogic move – while Obama kisses the flip side of the coin: The One. But Ayers’ tenure, job, and family are under nothing but criticism. Given that Ayers has always been willing to bow to applause, I see no reason to defend him or respond favorably to what is really a call to support his past and present work. Instead, I want to correct the record. 
In brief: stop calling Bill Ayers a radical. He demeans the term. I am former member of the Students for a Democratic Society, the largest student movement in US history (which Ayers helped to destroy) and a radical yet today. There was never anything radical about born-to-wealth Bill Ayers. He always opposed the radical, ‘going to the root’ of social problems. In 1969, Ayers’ ‘Weathermen’ sought to replace a movement of people organizing for freedom, equality, and peace with authoritarian mis-leadership and bombs. Then, he was a liberal with explosives.
Today, he is a foundation-funded liberal as Mayor Richard Dailey’s endorsement demonstrates. His tiny Weathermen sect was the Mussolini-like ‘reaction-faction’: celebrating irrationalism, drugs, and exploitative sex, and pandering to the various nationalisms of the day. They held most people in the world in utter contempt. Before the biggest outpouring of student activism in the last century, the Weathermen destroyed the SDS mailing list, leaving the movement with no center. Then, cops rained down on the movement, demonstrating that terrorists typically bring repression, not on themselves, but on the people they falsely claim to represent. I note nothing of any significance happened to Ayers and the cops never made much of an effort to find him when he was on the run, but living very well.
 
There is no “new” Bill Ayers. He dishonestly opposed a mass based class-conscious movement for equality and freedom then, and opposes it now. Today he claims nobody knew any better than to follow his hysterics in the Weathermen. Well, about two thirds of the people voting against the Weathermen in the famous Chicago split meeting knew better then, and we know better than to trust him now. His ‘Small Schools’ movement is sheer hucksterism, based on the same hubris that moved the Weathermen –- though it is considerably more lucrative. Those of us who fought the Weathermen in SDS, and who did not abandon the grassroots struggle for worldwide justice, know Ayers for what he is. That Ayers clearly backed the liberal Obama, who promises wider wars, and bailouts to the rich, is no surprise.
 

Dr Rich Gibson
Emeritus Professor
San Diego State University
6256 Camino Corto
San Diego, CA
92120
619 287 2322

 

Posted here (with permission) by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

UNL Cancels Speech by Ayers 

 

UNL Cancels Speech by Ayers

 
By Henry J. Cordes and Khristopher J. Brooks 
Published: Saturday, October 18, 2008 4:28 AM CDT 
Midlands News Service 
 
      

http://www.nptelegraph.com/articles/2008/10/18/news/60001219.txt

 
 

LINCOLN – The University of Nebraska-Lincoln on Friday evening rescinded its speaking invitation for 1960s radical-turned-educator William Ayers. University officials cited “safety reasons” for canceling Ayers’ Nov. 15 appearance. 

 

Spokeswoman Kelly Bartling declined to elaborate on what safety concerns would keep Ayers from addressing a College of Education and Human Sciences event. 

 
Earlier Friday, Gov. Dave Heineman strongly condemned the invitation and called on the NU Board of Regents and President J.B. Milliken to block it. 

 

An Omaha charitable foundation announced it was pulling all of its contributions to the university. Several other donors also have indicated to university fundraisers that there could be a financial cost if Ayers speaks. 

 

And Nebraskans by the hundreds continued to register their opposition with university administrators and others, lighting up phone lines and filling e-mail boxes. 

 
Heineman said Ayers’ invitation was “an embarrassment” to the state and that it goes beyond the bounds of the university’s mission. 

 
“Our citizens are clearly outraged and want action,” Heineman said in an interview. “This is their university. This isn’t even a close call. The university should immediately rescind the invitation.” 

 

Dean Marjorie Kostelnik said she spoke Thursday night with UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman about “the climate around this issue.” 

 
She said she also has spoken with representatives of Milliken’s office. Other public officials weighed in about Ayers on Friday, a day after the UNL speech was announced. 

 

Both Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat, and Rep. Lee Terry, a Republican, called for cancellation of the speech. 

 

“The invitation made to William Ayers to speak at my alma mater in the midst of a heated national election when he is such a highly controversial figure is an outrage,” Terry said. 

 

Nelson said the visit would not promote the unity now needed in the nation. Said Attorney General Jon Bruning: “Academic freedom doesn’t require us to lose our good judgment and common sense.” 

 

State Auditor Mike Foley sent the university a long request for information on Ayers’ trip, its planning and how it is being funded. UNL officials have said Ayers’ appearance would be privately funded. 

 

Ayers was a member of the Weather Underground, a radical group that staged domestic bombings to protest the Vietnam War. Ayers was charged with conspiracy to incite riots, but the charges were dropped  because of misconduct by prosecutors. 

 

Ayers went on to gain respect in the education field and become a scholar known for his ideas on school reform. At UNL, the plan was for him to limit his speech to graduate education students to that topic. 

 
The invitation to Ayers was extended in February, long before he became a household name in this year’s presidential election because of his ties to candidate Sen. Barack Obama through their shared work a few years ago with a school reform effort. 

 
The Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation in Omaha told the university Friday that it would halt all contributions to the university unless the UNL education faculty rescinded Ayers’ invitation. The foundation has given millions to the university in the past. 

 

While other donors haven’t been as explicit, Clarence Castner, who leads the University of Nebraska Foundation, said it became clear that other contributions were “in jeopardy.” 

 

Scholars said a decision to pull an invitation to Ayers could be seen by educators nationally as a school-sponsored curb on academic freedom. 

 

It would make UNL a less attractive school to the faculty members it seeks to recruit, said David Moshman, a UNL education professor writing a book on academic freedom. 

 

Heineman said Friday that “there is no way” the university should lose contributions over Ayers. There are plenty of other respected  educators the university could invite to speak, he said. 

 

  

 
 

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

 

 

The Rikowski web site, The Flow of Ideas is at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

 

Ayers Rocked In His Own Universe

 

 

Glenn Rikowski, London, 15th June 2007

 

 

 

Preface: In light of the fact that the relationship between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers surfaced in the final TV confrontation between John McCain and Obama yesterday, I thought that readers might be interested in this post. It first appeared on my AOL Volumizer blog on 15th June 2007. However, AOL is going to pull the plug on all of its blogs on 31st October so I am preserving this post here on All that is Solid. From what I say below, it seems as if the ‘wild man’ Ayers has changed quite radically into an idealist liberal. McCain’s attempt to pass him off as a dangerous revolutionary figure is pathetic.

 

Glenn Rikowski, London, 17th October 2008

 

 

 

Introduction

 

A review of Peter McLaren’s Capitalists and Conquerors: A Critical Pedagogy Against Empire (2005) by William Ayers (2006) in Teachers College Record has sparked off a wide-ranging debate concerning the role of education in struggles for progressive social transformation. Following this by Ayers, McLaren responded (McLaren, 2007a), drawing a counter-response from Ayers (Ayers, 2007) which was then followed by a further reply from McLaren (2007b). So: what has this to do with me? Well, I was one of the contributors to McLaren’s Capitalists and Conquerors (Allman, McLaren and Rikowski, 2005) who was ignored in Ayers’s original review (along with Paula Allman, Donna Houston, Gregory Martin, Nathalia Jaramillo, and Valerie Scatamburlo-D’Anibale) [1]. Thus, I feel more than entitled to respond to Ayers’s original review and his reply to Peter McLaren.

 

 

 

Bad Reviews

 

The first point that should be noted is that Ayers’s ‘review’ was no such thing. He did not inform the reader regarding the overall contents, topics and themes of the book. Ayers is a poor book reviewer on this performance.

 

Secondly, a book reviewer needs to ensure that they don’t wilfully mislead readers. Examining examples of McLaren’s language that he objects to, Ayers argues that in the examples he gives readers find McLaren “citing mostly himself”. Perhaps there are a few passages where McLaren cites mainly himself; this would be the case for many authors, as the readers might be interested in the development of their work. But someone reading this might conclude that McLaren is a self-obsessed peacock who mostly only quotes himself throughout. If the book in question (McLaren, 2005) is examined it is clear that this is not so. In only a single chapter (the first) does McLaren have more than ten references to himself in the end-text references. He has 15, in fact; including those where he figures in edited collections. This should be set against the fact that in this chapter there are 133 references in total. McLaren’s references take up only 11% of the references in that chapter. I leave it to Ayers to calculate the percentage of chapter 1 taken up by the actual text that those 15 references cover!

 

Thirdly, Ayers complains of McLaren’s “domineering” language. This feeble response to the language of the “Poet Laureate of the Educational Left”, as McLaren’s writing style has been described by Joe Kinchloe (in McLaren, 2000), belies his past as a left dissident of national significance [2].    

 

Without going into more micro-detail, it is clear that Ayers pursues McLaren throughout his ‘review’ as basically someone who should really write and research just like he. Ayers looks for the ethnographer in Peter McLaren; the radical ethnographer who wrote Life in Schools. However, people sometimes develop, move on and do different things. Ayers presumes that McLaren should remain cast in theoretical and research stone that he approves of, and can readily relate to.

 

 

 

Rocked in his Own Universe  

 

As a review, Ayers’s effort is hardly worth bothering with. However, whilst reading it I was amazed to discover certain perspectives of his (Ayers) that fit snugly with the rampant individualism and Utopianism of neoliberal educational thought. Furthermore, it seems Ayers was not conversant with some of the basics of Marxism. He appears to be a fully paid up member of the conventional, academic liberal left in some respects.

 

First of all, Ayers argues that: “Capitalist schooling submerges human development in its single-minded drive for profit” and “profit is at the center of economic, political, and social life”. But it is value, and specifically surplus-value (of which profit is an element) that is the substance of capital’s social universe (see Rikowski, 2005). Ayers seems oblivious to the significance of value, and to the value/profit distinction.

 

However, it is his “classrooms and schools for democracy” I am most concerned about from the perspective of human progress and development. Ayers argues that:

 

“Classrooms and schools for democracy and freedom recognize each student as an entire universe, each capable of becoming an author, and activist in his or her own life – teachers in these classrooms assume that every student is an unruly spark of meaning-making energy on a voyage of discovery and surprise” (My emphasis).

 

Ayers advocates that students are, and should be treated like, Leibniz’s monads; unique and self-sufficient, inhabiting a universe of their very own. Yet his students inhabit a particular social universe; the social universe of capital. In order to appreciate this point, Ayers would have had to delve beneath the phenomenon of profit into the very heart of this social universe: the creation of value and surplus-value in the capitalist labour process. The fact that we all inhabit capital’s social universe gives us common bonds, and a common form of life, which limits us regarding what we can become – individually, and collectively as humanity.

 

Ayers’s nurturing of students as inhabitants of their own universes, creates individualistic illusions amongst them insofar as it actually works. This individualism gels with methodological individualism, rational choice theory and the self-serving model of the person served up by mainstream economics. This primeval individualism can also be related to solipsism and nihilism without too much effort.

 

Yet a little further on Ayers talks about teachers having solidarity with students! Who would want solidarity with the ego-centric, hyper-individualistic students that Ayers conjures up? And how would this be possible? Could teachers have any kind of solidarity with persons who inhabit a universe of their very own? Ironically, teachers are charged with helping to generate those universes for their hapless students!

 

Ayers seems utterly confused regarding his pedagogical aims and social ontology. He can’t be expected to understand McLaren’s work if this is his stance on social life and the relations between individuals and capitalist society. He argues that McLaren should “start to think and write more clearly and with much more urgency.” However, the confusion within Ayers’s thinking and his bizarre pedagogical commitments puts the onus on him to rethink and refocus. At least McLaren speaks to those living within the same universe!      

 

 

 

Notes:

[1] In his reply to McLaren’s response (Ayers, 2007), he admitted that: “I did indeed fail to mention the co-authors who worked on various chapters with McLaren. My mistake. On the other hand, the cover of the book, the title page, the listing in the library made the same omission, so perhaps that criticism should more productively be taken up with the publisher”. Yet a competent reviewer should surely have noted these omissions in their review – which leads me to believe that Ayers was not really interested in writing an actual review of the book: he was more concerned with painting a skewed picture of Peter McLaren as a writer, educational theorist and researcher and education activist. Personally, I always knew my name was not to be on the front of the book, and I had seen the cover in advance. I was happy with that, as Peter McLaren did the lion’s share of the work and writing. In blaming the publishers, Ayers deflects attention from the nature of his ‘review’.     

[2] See his ‘Biography/History’ on his blog for more on this, at: http://billayers.blogspot

 

 

 

References

Allman, P., McLaren, P. & Rikowski, G. (2005) After the Box People: The Labor-Capital Relation as Class Constitution and its Consequences for Marxist Educational Theory and Human Resistance, in: P. McLaren, Capitalists and Conquerors: A Critical Pedagogy Against Empire, Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.

Ayers, W. (2006) Essay Review: Notes From A Self-Realizing, Sensuous, Species-Being (I Think). A review of ‘Capitalists and Conquerors: A Critical Pedagogy Against Empire’ by William Ayers, Teachers College Record, December 12, online a: http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=12888

Ayers, W. (2007) Continuing the Conversation: Ayers Replies, Teachers College Record, February 6th, online at: http://www.tcrecord.org/discussion.asp?i=3&aid=2&rid=12888&dtid=0&vdpid=2695 

McLaren, P. (2000) Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the Pedagogy of Revolution, Lanham Md: Rowman & Littlefield.

McLaren, P. (2005) Capitalists and Conquerors: A Critical Pedagogy Against Empire, Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.

McLaren, P. (2007a) Peter McLaren Responds to Bill Ayers: Bad Faith Solidarity, Teachers College Record, January 22nd, online at: http://tcrecord.org/Discussion.asp?i=3&vdpid=2695&aid=2&rid=12888&dtid=0

McLaren, P. (2007b) Performing Bill Ayers: Criticism as a Disappearing Act or Hey, Brother, Can You Spare Me a Book Review? A Response by Peter McLaren. Personal correspondence sent by email, February 7th.

Rikowski, G. (2005) Distillation: Education in Karl Marx’s Social Universe, Lunchtime Seminar, School of Education, University of East London, 14th February: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=articles&sub=Distillation

 

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Rikowski web site, The Flow of Ideas is at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk