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Tropics of Teaching

Tropics of Teaching: Productivity, Warfare, and Priesthood

  • Book Info
    Tropics of Teaching
    Book Description:

    Based on the premise that deconstruction and demystification are a necessary counterforce to 'shared myths', Tochon offers a provocative assessment of mass educational concepts and teacher education, proposing a rethinking of pedagogy in general.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8277-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    This book could be characterized as a series of essays demystifying crucial issues in teacher education and research on teaching. The demystification process starts with denouncing shared myths and deconstructing their expression, because such myths can relate to diverse intentions. The same idea, the same word of wisdom, can be used to enhance or to demolish. Behind educational beliefs stands the intention to uplift or to degrade. Words may hide implicit targets and prevent the free development of the potential for thought and action. Deregulation, standardization, professionalization: such key ideas hide highly politicized agendas and ideological battlefields (Cochran-Smith & Fries, 2001)....

  5. CHAPTER ONE Myths in Teacher Education: Towards Reflectivity
    (pp. 11-42)

    Centuries ago in Mesoamerica, the Aztecs fought other coalitions in the name of beliefs preached by warrior-priests.¹ They killed thousands of prisoners, tearing out their living hearts to offer the bleeding, palpitating flesh to their gods. For the Aztecs, human sacrifice was a deeply sacred act, on which the whole continuation of the cosmos depended. In absolute contrast to this stood the Christian belief in God’s love. For the Spanish invaders, human sacrifice was demonic work, and their belief gave them the conceptual energy and motivation to kill hundreds of thousands of indigenous people and served as a practical justification...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Deconstructing Presence: Behind the Educational Myth
    (pp. 43-70)

    Semiotic deconstruction should be understood as a positive use of criticism.¹ By locating the oppositions that organize value and power, it sheds light on their constructed backstage props. As educational models are also mental and social constructs, their critical understanding may seem to have a deconstructive, disillusioning effect, even though this effect has positive implications. Actually, deconstruction is instrumental in the reflective construction of meaning. As the critical arguments presented here take the form of an essay, they suggest in their own formalism that narratological postmodern criticism may reveal useful moral avenues to deconstruct some voice networks as being expressions...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Situated Researcher and the Myth of Lived Experience
    (pp. 71-82)

    The first and second chapters of this book dealt with the deconstruction of crucial aspects of myths that model teaching and teacher education: the myth of standard productivity, of a strategic fight against ignorance, and of the priestly role of educators who lead school change with such idealistic words that they make easy targets for people outside of education arguing for accountability. The argument for measurable results is often used to dismantle education as a democratic institution and open it to the marketplace. We tend to think and argue through myths, and there is nothing wrong with this. However, the...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Exploring Educational Spaces: Mythic Territories of Experience-Sharing
    (pp. 83-108)

    My deconstruction of some trends specific to teacher education in chapters 1 and 2 enlightened some paradoxes, and demonstrated the primacy of experience. Deconstruction should be followed by a reconstruction process. This is the goal of chapters 3, 4, and 5. What positive definition could we give toteacherhood? Rather than formulating a standardized definition based on teacher proficiency, I will consider this issue in a more philosophical light. For that purpose I will come back to the mythic, Indo-European roots of teaching discussed in the first chapter of the book, then I will develop a neo-Aristotelian definition of the...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE A Manifesto for Didaction: Action Poetry as an Empowering Myth
    (pp. 109-126)

    Like the previous chapters, the present manifesto attempts to find one possible junction between culture, thought, and action. Action can have an educational dimension. In this sense, didaction would be a characteristic move of the acting mind.

    A postmodern position would have it that the border between science and art is fuzzy. Both rest on a set of paradigmatic connections that emerge from shared practices. Both are communitarian practices based on convictions inherent in the establishment of rules and local values. In short, both scientific and artistic culture emerge from historicized actions and thus, necessarily, from literature. The postmodern attitude...

  10. Afterword: The Myth of Security
    (pp. 127-140)

    This afterword is dedicated to the subject of education in low-tier schools and downhill trends in the educational system. First written before the events of September 11, 2001, it has since acquired a brand new perspective.¹ My starting point is John Devine’s bookMaximum Security(1996), which analyses competing discourses on violence within these high-security schools and boards of education. The intervenors whose experience Devine reports are tutors, mentors, and ethnographers, but a large role is played by school guards and scan teams in the construction of the ‘indocile body’ and students’ relationship with their own bodies, to use Foucault’s...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 141-142)
  12. References
    (pp. 143-156)
  13. Name Index
    (pp. 157-160)
  14. Subject Index
    (pp. 161-163)