August 10, 2005

A right to theory Thanks to Matt for recommending the following. It clearly sets out the stakes of current discussion around theory. Link: Ghost in the Wire: On Theory and its Empire, 1: The Pedagogy of Reception. Now we can spend time declaring, as so many have and continue to do, that conventional liberal arts education no longer benefits from theoretical enterprises - whatever "theoretical" here entails - and that now the so-called liberal arts actually suffer from these sorts of abstractions. We can also spend time lauding theory's historical benefits, its role in opening the canon, introducing new problematics and new themes, and in paving new avenues for thinking resistance in the era of supposedly late capitalism. Both of these have their place, but neither grapples with one of the major challenges we in the Academy face today: the collapse of the liberal arts educational model and the apotheosis of a scientistic, test-based approach to measuring and parsing educational progress. The Leave No Child Behind act - often dubbed the Leave All Children Behind act - celebrates nothing but practice, nothing but data sets. With it, the economies that delimit education in the United States are increasingly overdetermined by a confluence of three forces: 1. The modification of a curriculum that teaches material in order to maximize student performance on standardized exams. This means that alternate ways of exploring classroom education, of learning material not covered by the tests, or of testing in ways out of step with the standardized materials actually provide...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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