RF 2008 Session Details & Abstracts


Education: Reform or Revolution?

Paper Session Details

Session 1: 9:00-10:30am (Friday, March 14)

Breakout A (Music 101)

Nancye McCrary (U of Kentucky)—Uncovering the Personal as Political: A Family History Approach to Critical Discourse on Diversity among Pre-service Teachers

In this presentation, I examine a pedagogical approach and theoretical framework for using family histories to move teacher education students to personalize issues of diversity by examining their own differences. I offer selected examples from 250 pre-service teachers’ multimedia family histories to demonstrate how this assignment assists in preparing homogeneous cohorts of pre-service teachers to teach in highly diverse schools. I emphasize the dialogic features of exploring and sharing one’s own family history to mediate a more personal understanding of human difference and move pre-service teachers from spectators to participants in our increasingly diverse society. 

Ashwani Kumar (U of British Columbia)—The place of critical awareness in social education for revolution

Social education in schools largely serves as an agent of reproduction and at the most of reform.  Reproduction happens when the curriculum and pedagogy pertinent to social education merely mirrors the social reality without its critical examination for change. Reform happens when social education is centered on encouraging modifications in the existing social and economic structure without any fundamental transformation. Through this presentation, I wish to make a case for the place of critical self-awareness in social education to bring about revolutionary change in one’s own self and society. Critical self-awareness is the ability to be aware of one’s own self—one’s actions, thought and emotions—to see how one, through one’s actions and thoughts, continue to further the conflicts and degeneration in society.

Breakout B (Hillary’s—in Horrigan Hall Cafe area)

 Chelsea Harry (Boston College)—Exploring education as a path to truth: A dialogue between President Bush and Snoop Dogg

John Dewey claimed that the purpose of education was to develop individuals who could think critically and independently, individuals who could function well as democratic citizens.  In this paper, written in dialogue form as a work of experimental philosophy, I claim through two popular interlocutors – President George Bush and rapper Snoop Dog — that the current administration’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program severely hinders a student’s ability to become the adult citizen John Dewey had in mind.  I suggest that the NCLB program is grounded on the epistemology that truth is something objective and universal, something into which all students can be indoctrinated and subsequently required to regurgitate for quantitative evaluation.  As a result, I contend, that without some sort of reform our nation will not be able to continue functioning as a democratic society should, one in which all citizens are equipped to think for themselves, to seek out truth, and to find validity in various points-of-view.

Erlene Grise-Owens (Spalding U) & Justin Miller (Kentucky Cabinet for Heath and Family Services)—Let them eat pie: Just cutting up about democracy”

Hungry for ideas on promoting democratic classrooms and culture?  This  “eat-eractive” workshop uses apple pie as a metaphor for U.S. “democracy”—including our system of education.  A pie-eating exercise feeds discussion of core democratic concepts and questions.  Topics include: (1) pie-power, privilege, (surplus) powerlessness; (2) advocacy—collaborative, competitive, adversarial; (3) just pieces, production, distribution, etc.; (4) false “pie-ty” vs. pie-parity; (5) individual, corporate, global connections; (6) Apple pie assumptions, values, policies,  actions; (7) pie-paradigms:  changing pie—even as we eat it?  We discuss ideas and resources to expand application.  Democratic pre-requisite: BYOB—Bring your own brain!

Breakout C (Horrigan Hall, Room 104)

David Wicks (Jefferson County Public Schools)—Undoing racism and environmental issues

Over the past year, the State of Kentucky has sponsored services of “undoing racism” workshops to help reduce the high proportion of African American referrals to the Child Protective Services. This session shall explore the intersection of environmental education, environmental protection, environmental justice and the tenets of undoing racism. For example one of the tenets of undoing racism is access to resources. Access to clean water, clear air, open space, and natural communities should be included with quality education, quality housing, capital, and networks of influence and ideas.   The session will conclude with a description of three projects that blends the elements of environmental and multicultural education.

Prentice Chandler (Athens State U)—Whiteness and the Erasure of the Other in the Social Studies

This paper examines the ways in which white teachers represent race within the context of the teaching of American history. This examination took place as part of a case study of teachers in public schools in north Alabama. The findings of this case study include teachers’ use of the following ideologies in their teaching: 1) American exceptionalism, 2) dominance through mentioning (Apple & Christian-Smith, 1991), 3) silences relative to race, and 4) Wills’ (2001) concept of “missing in interaction.” In addition to these general themes relative to teaching about race, the teachers’ pedagogy was analyzed through the lens of critical race theory (CRT). The themes that emerged from this aspect of the study were in line with other studies in education that have dealt with CRT: 1) liberal, incremental progress, 2) race neutrality and colorblindness, 3) naturalization/essentialization of race, and 4) fear of teaching about race. This discussion starts with the work of Omi and Winant (2005) and their assertion that the US nation state is fundamentally racially based and founded. Racism has been/is a defining hallmark of US history, rather than an aberration. Race matters. To teach people our history, we must tell these stories…but as my research points out, students receive more of the same, which is nationalism and race(less) narratives of progress. Participation in our democracy is based on race…

Session 2: 10:45am-12:15pm (Friday March 14)

Breakout A (Music 101)

Faith Agostinone-Wilson (Aurora U)—Education toward war

This paper will explore how the military’s presence within the schools has increased dramatically parallel to our ratcheting up imperialism across the globe.  The economic situation of today’s high school population (the foundation of the poverty draft) will be examined, including the percentage of students in poverty households, occupational outlook, and the growing divided workforce (either high education-high paying work or low education-low paying work).   With one in ten schools identified as “dropout factories,” the pathway to militarization seems more secure than ever, judging by the increase in enlistees without a high school diploma.  The second portion of the paper will address state curriculum standards that mention war or foreign policy elements as required content, No Child Left Behind and military recruiting, recruiting materials and drives aimed at kids, and the militarization of high schools such as Substance News’ coverage of the ROTC program at Senn High School in Chicago.  A critique of the “law and order” mentality that legitimizes militaristic solutions will be presented throughout the paper.  

Claire Hughes and Christy McGee (Bellarmine University)—Mertonian Education: Living the Merton Ideal in the Classroom

There is an isolating power of the “collective” in which people are encouraged to fit within a specified mold of acceptable behavior, but do not approach others when they see pain. It is within such a collective that many school personnel believe they have created a community of learners, when in actuality, this “community” functions for the greater good with little regard to the individual needs of its members. In this session, we will use Thomas Merton’s “transformation of consciousness” as a guiding principle toward the development and sustenance of a true community within the public school classroom. 

Breakout B (Frazier Hall)

Terry Brooks and Dwayne Westmoreland (Kentucky Youth Advocates)— Mulch, Hoops, and Homemade Pie: A study of A5/A6 programs in the  Commonwealth

It touches more than 70,000 students.  If classified as a school system, it would be Kentucky’s largest. Millions of designated dollars are allocated to it. It is a landscape that lacks rigor, accountability and efficacy. IT is the alternative schools of Kentucky. In response to a growing number of case advocacy calls, Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA) launched a year-long research project around the alternative schools of Kentucky. The project featured national benchmarks and extensive qualitative research borne from the voices of affected students, teachers and parents. While KYA’s effort certainly discovered many committed professionals and a handful of state exemplars, the overall portrait is nothing less than an embarrassment to the Kentucky.  Along with the research findings, KYA will share its reflections of the State Board of Education and the Department of Education’s reaction to the report and a look ahead to what the future may hold for Kentucky’s alternative students.

Breakout C (Hillary’s—in Horrigan Hall Cafe area)

Corrie Orthober (Bellarmine U), Seth Pollitt (Jefferson County Public Schools), Laura Kitchens, Byron Fischer, Marquese Carter (Iroquois High School)—Often not asked

Often times we wonder why research endeavors fail to ask high school students about their perceptions of their educational experiences.  We are concerned with the lack of student voice because we believe the life of democracy lies within our youth.  Our work seeks to give voice to the students from four newly formed Academies at Iroquois High School a Title I school within Jefferson County Public Schools.  Our presentation will address the series of Rouge Forum questions: What is a democratic classroom? What does ‘democracy’ mean? What examples of democracy in action classroom and/or community?  

Gina Stiens (Home of the Innocents) & Adam Renner (Bellarmine U)—A decade of work in the Global South: Social service or social change

This presentation focuses on the presenters work in and around Montego Bay, Jamaica since 1998.  Partnering with children’s homes and schools, the presentation details some of their evolving work over the last decade.  Building upon a service learning theory that arcs toward a “caring solidarity,” the presenters explore Paul Farmer’s notion of “charity vs. development vs. social justice projects” as well as Paul Kivel’s concept of “social service vs. social change.”  The presenters explore the degree to which these service partnerships have worked for social justice and/or social change and what remains to be accomplished. 

Session 3: 2:00-3:30pm (Friday, March 14)

Breakout A (BAC 203)

Joe Cronin (Antioch U)—Freire and the mediated consciousness of postmodern Americans

We will discuss Freire’s position on the internalization of oppression, the objectification of subjects, and the challenges of forming a critical consciousness as both the means and the end of addressing class power relations as his position relates to tele-mediated Americans, who appear to be so enmeshed with devices as to neither understand, nor feel, the burden of the kind of overt and obscene workings of power that Freire’s pedagogy of liberation took head on.  We shall thus explore the question: does Freire’s pedagogy apply to us? If so, how?

Rich Gibson (San Diego State U)—Why have school?

Breakout B (Hillary’s—in Horrigan Hall Cafe area)

Stephen Bartlett (Agricultural Missions/ KY May Day Coalition), Christine Perlin (LPAC), Aramie Bloom (Student Farmworker Alliance), Jamie McMillin (LPAC), Karina Barillas (Casa Latina), Afrykah  Wubsauda (An Artist for Social Change and Integrity)—Popular Education for Consciousness Raising and Movement Building 

This workshop will involve socio drama by presenters and also elicited improvised socio drama by participants, followed by a guided conversation and dialog with provocative questions if necessary and following stated norms of constructive interaction. Within the socio dramas, topics such as, but not limited to, immigration and scapegoating; torture’s impact on the torturer, feminism and leadership, racism and mainstream media regarding war propaganda, will be touched upon. In the guided conversation we will attempt to find the working interconnections and discuss strategy for building a movement based on coalitions and cross-sector organizing.

Breakout C (Pasteur 108)

John Harris Loflin (Democratic Education Consortium)—School Democracy, Maslow, the promise of hip-hop culture, puberty, democratic anarchy, sustainability, multiculturalism, and public urban free schools: A vision of possibilities for student voices in public schools

What do democratic education, sustainability, puberty and citizenship, hip-hop culture, compulsory public schools that are not compulsory, self-actualization, school decision-making with no rules, and multicultural education share? How does a synthesis of these commonalities inform a new conception of democratic public schools and classrooms?  This presentation will attempt to provide children, youth, and adults with visions of the greater potential of democratic education.

Breakout D (Pasteur 207)

Marlene Gordon (Coalition of the Homeless)—Institutional Discharge into Homelessness

The importance of insuring that re-entry from Foster Care, Corrections and Mental Health hospitals strengthens communities.  These are very vulnerable populations and if they are not appropriately re-integrated into society, they will return to the institutions or in the case of foster care could wind up in homeless shelters, corrections or mental health hospitals.  This process of in and out of institutions is extremely expensive to the community and if funds for prevention were spent prior to release and people followed into the community with assistance.  They will remain stable and securely housed.

Professional Development: 9:00am-12:15pm (Saturday, March 15)

Breakout A (Bingham Humanities, Room 215)

Sonya Burton (Bellarmine U), Rachel Kinsey (Bullitt County Public Schools), Kathryn Williams (Jefferson County Public Schools)—Critical Literacy

Breakout B (Bingham Humanities, Room 210)

Mary Goral (Bellarmine U), Andrew Gray (Jefferson County Public Schools)—Green Education

Few teachers and fewer students have the luxury of working in an environment they have had a hand in designing.  In spite of this, a number of alternatives and ideas exist for teachers and students to begin greening their environment.  This interactive workshop will empower teachers to understand the benefits of a green school design and the opportunities they have to move this vision forward.  Participants will be involved in a number of activities, including the design and creation of an outdoor teaching environment.

Session 4: 9:00-10:30am (Saturday, March 15)

Breakout A (Bingham Humanities, Room 217)

Justin Miller (Kentucky Cabinet for Heath and Family Services), Erlene Grise-Owens (Spalding U), & Jonathan White (Kentucky Cabinet for Heath and Family Services)—Toward a democratic classroom: A liberatory approach

This workshop examines “liberatory pedagogy,” aimed at creating environments that encourage students to think critically and engage interdependently, which leads to a more democratic society.  Facilitated by a faculty member and two recent MSW graduates from Spalding University, we use a “P” protocol to explore liberatory learning-teaching.  First, we delineate key premises and practices of this approach.  Then, we lead interdisciplinary discussion about problems that challenge real-life implementation of liberatory education and impede democratic learning spaces—from both “student” and “teacher” perspectives. Next, we explore possibilities, eliciting specific strategies and approaches. We conclude with “take home” plans: Participants’ next steps. 

Breakout B (Bingham Humanities, Room 223)

Steven Strauss—Psychological Paradigms, Social Relations in the Classroom, and the Overcoming of Alienation

This presentation will review emerging concepts in neuroscience, their implications for models of psychology, and the further implications for liberating the classroom from the poison of capitalist social relations. Recent neuroscience is focusing on a new understanding of the relationship between the cortex and subcortical structures.  This new anatomic-physiologic understanding is not able to accommodate the prevailing information-processing paradigm of cognitive psychology.  It requires a revolution in psychology that highlights constructivist principles. But there is no utility in such a constructivist model for promoting capitalist aims.  Indeed, the new neuroscience-psychology places the individual as the subject, not object, of his/her learning experience.  Creativity, self-expression, and freedom are implicit in the model. Thus, whereas behaviorism served the capitalist rulers in suggesting the classroom as an arena for promoting a psychology of social control, and whereas information-processing cognitive psychology identifies profit-generating labor skills to be incorporated in classroom curriculum, the emerging neuroscience-psychology shines a light on the problem of alienation, and offers a glimpse into what a free-thinking mind will look like. Since the psychology of freedom is counterposed to the needs of a minority class of capitalist rulers, it can be realized only after capitalism is replaced, through revolutionary struggle, by a workers state, and through the eventual withering away of that state via the elimination of social classes.

Breakout C (Bingham Humanities, Room 219)

Carolyn Shields (U of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)—Activist Educational Leaders: Can we change the social order?

This paper explores both historic and current inequities in the ways citizenship rights and benefits play out in North America; it considers how educators might use this knowledge to create schools that are more inclusive and more equitable, focused on teaching students how to “be” rather than how to “get.”  The goal is to open difficult (and sometimes risky) conversations about how the continued inequitable distribution of citizenship rights puts democratic schooling and democratic society at risk.  The intent is to promote self-reflection and critique on the part of educators; then to explore the possibility that activism by educators who can no longer remain silent and therefore complicit in continued social injustice may lead to a deeper and more robust understanding of the role of schools in promoting global curiosity, educational diplomacy, and a more “democratic” social order.

Nancy Patterson (Bowling Green State U)—Dancing with Dynamite and Duct Tape: Practical Life instruction from Emma Goldman on change.

My work as an urban school reformer has been fueled by early and ongoing study of revolutionary ideology and the nature of change. It is more than a curiosity to me that all revolutionary movements are imbued with enduring conflicts over the pace and nature of gaining ends. This presentation addresses the question at the heart of the conference—by what means do we accomplish our ends—reform or revolution? I will frame my discussion with an overview of three revolutionary movements and the contested question of ends justifiable by what means, continuing with a review of Goldman’s perspective on the topic, and closing with application of historic lessons learned to my own school reform efforts in the present. 

Session 5: 10:45am-12:15pm (Saturday, March 15)

Breakout A (Bingham Humanities, Room 217)

Adam Renner (Bellarmine U)—Teaching community, consciousness, and courage against the backdrop of 21st century “shocks”

For some time now I have been interested in the possibilities of social justice, specifically, the process(es) toward social justice.  My subsequent research, which has led to various action with colleagues, friends, and the community (community service, service learning partnerships, teach-in’s, demonstrations, university courses, etc.), has also culminated in the formation of a curricular theory/process that Milton Brown and I call “a hopeful curriculum.” This hopeful curriculum—which finds its inspiration in Freire’s pedagogy of hope and theoretical foundation in cultural studies, post-colonial theory, and critiques of economic globalization—interacts around three axes: community, praxis, and courage.  This presentation (1) examines the axis of community in light of five 21st century shocks: the Iraq War, the genocide in Darfur, the ratcheting up of economic globalization, Hurricane Katrina, and the No Child Left Behind Act; (2) explores the pedagogical possibilities of using these shocks to craft more refined lenses on issues of social injustice as well as a deepened consciousness on what can be done; and (3) considers to what extent these issues and this pedagogy may prompt critical actions from students. 

Jaylynne Hutchinson (Ohio U)—For, Of, and By the People?: Where has public education gone?

This paper argues that for education to truly be public, it must enhance the power of the democratic citizenry.  It is clear that while we debate ad infinitum about whether vouchers and charter schools are enhancing educational success and opportunity for all in a democracy, we have not stopped to question whether our schools as constituted now are public in any sense of the term beyond tax dollars.  To explore this question of why more teachers are not activists challenging the oxymoronic notion while claiming they want to “make this world a better place,” I will utilize Athol Fugard’s play, “My Children! My Africa!”  This play demonstrates competing tensions between reform and revolution.  I would argue that we must come to understand that we have lost the “public” in public education and this has dire consequences for the health of a democracy that should serve the people of a democracy.

Breakout B (Bingham Humanities, Room 223)

Miah Confer, Kevin Jones, Bobbie Mason, Pamela Burks,& Nancye McCrary (chair) (U of Kentucky)—What is a democratic classroom? What does democracy mean? Teaching and Learning Social Justice

This panel includes four elementary teachers from a graduate seminar on social justice in education who personalized injustice and developed dispositions to action through a collaborative process of designing and developing narrative simulations based on real stories of different others. After session participants work through selected instructional simulations, panel members will discuss theoretical and personal perspectives that framed their selection of contexts and informants for their instructional simulations. Panel members will share their experiences as they immersed themselves in the stories of others, personalized injustice, and began to reframe interactions with their own students. They will conclude by leading an open discussion on social justice in public education. 

Session 6: 2:00-3:30pm (Saturday, March 15)

Breakout A (Bingham Humanities, Room 210)

Larry Owens (Home of the Innocents)—Social Pedagogy: Implications for the US Child Welfare System

This session will introduce and discuss the basic concepts, theory, and principles of social pedagogy. Established in continental Europe and Scandinavia, social pedagogy is an internationally recognized and respected approach in working with children and families. Social pedagogy defines education in the broadest sense and is utilized in a range of services for children and families, as well as senior adults. In this interactive session, we will discuss how social pedagogy is congruent with democratic principles. Further, we will explore the challenges and possibilities of integrating social pedagogy into the U.S. child welfare system.

Karen Christopher (U of Louisville)—Mother as Provider: Student welfare recipients’ narratives of paid and unpaid work

This paper uses feminist methodology to explore how welfare recipients attending university resist and engage dominant ideologies of paid work and unpaid work. In-depth interviews of twenty-four welfare recipients reveal that they resist the “work plan” of welfare reform by attending university to attain good jobs, not just any job. In some ways these student recipients draw from an intensive mothering ideology, but in other ways they challenge it. These students are unique in their notion of what constitutes “good parenting”—which is central to their resistance to the “work plan” and intensive motherhood. The conclusion explores the implications of this research for feminist social change.

Breakout B (Bingham Humanities, Room 215)

Greg Queen (Fitzgerald HS, Warren, MI)—Marx, pedagogy, and social studies

This paper uses feminist methodology to explore how welfare recipients attending university resist and engage dominant ideologies of paid work and unpaid work. In-depth interviews of twenty-four welfare recipients reveal that they resist the “work plan” of welfare reform by attending university to attain good jobs, not just any job. In some ways these student recipients draw from an intensive mothering ideology, but in other ways they challenge it. These students are unique in their notion of what constitutes “good parenting”—which is central to their resistance to the “work plan” and intensive motherhood. The conclusion explores the implications of this research for feminist social change.

Jesse Goodman (Indiana University)—My Journey from Marxist Revolution to Dewey’s Pragmatic Progressivism

This presentation will explore my intellectual journey that started during my undergraduate days from Marxist revolution to my current position which is very similar to Dewey’s progressive/pragmatic  reformism.  While revolutions are part of social history and occur in societies that are too rigid, Dewey argued that in liberal democracies, revolution is not the preferred way to promote meaningful societal changes.  The lesson Dewey teaches comes from his understanding of Marx’s own work as well as his experiences with Stalin and Trotsky.  In particular, he was critical of Marx’s and Lenin’s scientific historicism, their mistaken understanding of ideology and human nature, and their willingness to embrace the morality of the ends justifying the means (specifically the acceptance of the “generation discount”).  Although leftist revolutionaries are quick to identify contingent events as reasons for the near universal failure of the 20th century “revolutionary” experiments, Dewey (and others such as Alvin Gouldner and more recently Richard Rorty) identify problems inherent in Marxism, itself that provides a cautionary tale regarding revolutionary romanticism.  In this presentation, I will share why I now embrace Dewey’s rather than Marx’s vision of society, and the implications of this for teachers who have a commitment to democracy and social justice.

Breakout C (Bingham Humanities, Room 217)

Doug Selwyn (State University of New York, Plattsburgh)—Fear in Education

Fear plays a dominant, though uncredited, role in the ongoing attacks on public education.  I will present a brief overview of the issue and then engage in a conversation about fear, the role it plays, and the ways we can (and do) stand up in its face.

 Breakout D (Bingham Humanities, Room 223)

Arturo Rodriguez (Boise State U)—Transforming the Academy: Education for a Democratic Society

This paper contests current understandings, of what many consider the “correct” way or ways to teach in post-secondary classrooms.  In following up on the work of Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux, Dave Hill, and Maxine Greene among others I examine critical pedagogy in University settings.  For this session I will engage a brief discussion of critical pedagogy and its implications for teaching at Universities in rural communities.  I will then invite conference attendees to engage in further dialogue on reexamining the roles of students and Professors in University classrooms.

Rachel Kinsey (Bullitt County Public Schools),  Bryan Reinholdt (artist), Adam Renner (Bellarmine U), Milton Brown (UCLA), Sonya Burton (Bellarmine U), Gina Stiens (Home of the Innocents), Andrew Gray (Jefferson County Public Schools), Synthia Shelby (Jefferson County Public Schools) Eric Osborne (Nativity School)—The Progressives Engaged in Struggle Support Network (thepressnetwork.net, pressnetwork.blogspot.com

The PrESS Network is a critically engaged, hopeful, and supportive voice for change, dedicated to affirming the rights of and creating realistic solutions with children and families disenfranchised by an unjust socio-economic structure. In an effort to create space for transformative dialogue that transcends mere rhetoric, we are engaged in the areas of politics, pedagogy, and outreach. Seeking to facilitate system-wide change through respect for social difference, humanistic teaching, and service to others in an ever-evolving journey toward connectedness, we labor to build coalitions will all others who, with words and action, commit to realizing a hopeful revolution.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s