Pedagogy of The Oppressive

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

A fascinating anomaly of the academic Left: No matter how many institutions they and their policies dominate, they still view themselves as downtrodden, even in the circles in which they are dominant.

“Only when Harvey Mansfield sponsored lectures at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard were rebuttals required,” said Fred Siegel of St. Francis College at the National Association of Scholars (NAS) 25th anniversary conference in New York last weekend. Harvey Mansfield is probably the most identifiable conservative at Harvard.

On the same panel with Siegel, Manhattan Institute fellow Sol Stern tracked the political influences of the educating class. “‘Teachers should no longer be sages on the stage but guides on the side,’ is a quote frequently heard in education schools,” Stern claimed in the NAS conference at the Harvard Club. But what guide are the guides guided by?

The English translation of Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Friere has sold one million copies since its English translation was published in 1970, Stern pointed out. Friere saw the world, macro and micro, in terms of “oppressor versus oppressed,” noted Stern, and footnoted the book to sources such as Mao Tse Tung and Fidel Castro.

“This is a book written by a Marxist for the purpose of sparking communist revolution,” Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media points out. “As the title indicates, this is a Marxist view of oppressors and the oppressed.”

“Hence, students reading this book are supposed to come to an understanding of how various groups in society are being ‘oppressed.’ In fact, students themselves may come to believe, under careful guidance, that they, too, are members of the ‘oppressed’ class.”

Nevertheless, despite the stunning success progressive academics have had in pursuing just about any pedagogies their hearts desire—gender, colonial, post-colonial, etc.—at the expense of studying Western civilization and history, pedagogues view themselves as besieged and are continually on the lookout for any emerging “corporate” influence on the Ivory Tower:

  • “The move of corporate agendas into education are quite insidious these days,” Morna McDermott McNulty, an associate professor in the College of Education at Towson University, writes on the Academe blog maintained by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).
  • “See, the ultimate aim in today’s education, is to reinstate a corporate but colonial model,” anthropologist Kathleen Rand Reed, who wasin the trenches of higher education as an activist over a number of years,” writes on the academe blog.
  • “Corporate culture hijacked the narrative – university was no longer attended for the development of your mind,” Debra Leigh Scott wrote last year on her blog, The Homeless Adjunct.


Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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