Critical Pedagogy and Marx, Vygotsky and Freire
eBook - ePub

Critical Pedagogy and Marx, Vygotsky and Freire

Phenomenal Forms and Educational Action Research

Luis S. Villacañas de Castro

  1. English
  2. ePUB (apto para móviles)
  3. Disponible en iOS y Android
eBook - ePub

Critical Pedagogy and Marx, Vygotsky and Freire

Phenomenal Forms and Educational Action Research

Luis S. Villacañas de Castro

Detalles del libro
Vista previa del libro

Información del libro

This book explores Marx's theory of the phenomenal forms in relation to critical pedagogy and educational action research, arguing that phenomenal forms pose a pedagogical obstacle to any endeavour that seeks to expand an individual's awareness of the larger social whole.

Preguntas frecuentes

¿Cómo cancelo mi suscripción?
Simplemente, dirígete a la sección ajustes de la cuenta y haz clic en «Cancelar suscripción». Así de sencillo. Después de cancelar tu suscripción, esta permanecerá activa el tiempo restante que hayas pagado. Obtén más información aquí.
¿Cómo descargo los libros?
Por el momento, todos nuestros libros ePub adaptables a dispositivos móviles se pueden descargar a través de la aplicación. La mayor parte de nuestros PDF también se puede descargar y ya estamos trabajando para que el resto también sea descargable. Obtén más información aquí.
¿En qué se diferencian los planes de precios?
Ambos planes te permiten acceder por completo a la biblioteca y a todas las funciones de Perlego. Las únicas diferencias son el precio y el período de suscripción: con el plan anual ahorrarás en torno a un 30 % en comparación con 12 meses de un plan mensual.
¿Qué es Perlego?
Somos un servicio de suscripción de libros de texto en línea que te permite acceder a toda una biblioteca en línea por menos de lo que cuesta un libro al mes. Con más de un millón de libros sobre más de 1000 categorías, ¡tenemos todo lo que necesitas! Obtén más información aquí.
¿Perlego ofrece la función de texto a voz?
Busca el símbolo de lectura en voz alta en tu próximo libro para ver si puedes escucharlo. La herramienta de lectura en voz alta lee el texto en voz alta por ti, resaltando el texto a medida que se lee. Puedes pausarla, acelerarla y ralentizarla. Obtén más información aquí.
¿Es Critical Pedagogy and Marx, Vygotsky and Freire un PDF/ePUB en línea?
Sí, puedes acceder a Critical Pedagogy and Marx, Vygotsky and Freire de Luis S. Villacañas de Castro en formato PDF o ePUB, así como a otros libros populares de Pedagogía y Teoría y práctica de la educación. Tenemos más de un millón de libros disponibles en nuestro catálogo para que explores.



Part I

Marx, Freud, and Pedagogy


Beyond The Ignorant Schoolmaster: On Education, Marxism, and Psychoanalysis

This first chapter introduces the main concepts of Marxist sociology and Freudian psychoanalysis, two theories that have been intensely devoted to investigating and overcoming the epistemological effects caused by the phenomenal forms which inhered in the mode of production and the psychic apparatus, their respective subject matters. Their two prominent spearheads, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, soon understood that their scientific endeavors depended on deciphering the mechanisms which, in each case, generated these distorted reflections. These mechanisms were class division—the complex network that in any given social milieu consolidates around specific relations of production—and the splitting up of the psychic apparatus into conscious and unconscious regions, with repression acting as a wall between them. From these two divided structures, social and psychic superficial mirages ensued: on the one hand, ideological and fetishistic representations of society, which did no justice to the multiple social strata; on the other, introspective images of the psychic apparatus, the distorted nature of which resulted from the fact that they emerged from the conscious layers of psychic life (from the ego), and left out the unconscious regions.
Rather than dwelling on all these intricate concepts and their possible revisions and articulations, the main goal of this chapter is to justify why the general realm of education, and the more specific one of pedagogy, should not ignore the knowledge contributed by these two revolutionary theories. The reason has already been expounded: pedagogical obstacles derive from the existence of phenomenal forms. This chapter develops this argument indirectly, by analyzing the fascinating didactic proposal of the pedagogue Joseph Jacotot, from the beginning of the nineteenth century, as recounted in 1987 by the philosopher Jacques Rancière in his book The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation. As the reader will see, Rancière’s analysis is only partially informed by the premises of Marxist sociology and Freudian psychoanalysis, and I believe that certain shortcomings stem from this fact, which this chapter tries to compensate for. If Jacotot dreamed of using his educational method as a tool for universal emancipation, in accordance with the enlightened ideals of his country and his times, Rancière presents it as a project that goes beyond any ideology, even though the world was still divided into two blocs in the year it was published. This perspective falls in line with the predominant anarchism in his work, but it also brings about certain problems. Rancière attempts to avoid any references to the political and social context in which Jacotot lived and, likewise, he tries to remain faithful to the pedagogical categories that he originally used in 1838; one example is his rigid adherence to the manipulation of the student’s attention as the only didactic resource. By proceeding in this way, in both cases he ignores many of the advances made by branches in science that developed in the intervening years, particularly the fruitful period between the mid-nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. Because of this, the evaluation of Jacotot and Rancière’s pedagogical proposal which I present here is made in light of the premises derived from Marxist sociology and from psychoanalysis as developed by Sigmund Freud. Ultimately, the method of the ignorant schoolmaster—as Rancière calls him—will be partially reviewed in conjunction with the fundamental theses of these theories (Villacañas de Castro, 2012b; 2013).

The equality of all intelligences

My analysis of The Ignorant Schoolmaster begins with an explanation of what, at any cost, should be preserved from it, namely, the hypothesis of—the commitment to, in the words of Graciela Frigerio (2003, p. 113)—the equality of all intelligences. ‘All men have equal intelligence,’ writes Jacotot as quoted by Rancière (1991, p. 18); there are no hierarchies in intellectual capacity (pp. 46–9). I adhere to this principle come what may, for the same reason that Jacotot and Rancière did: in the absence of a theory capable of establishing a well-founded correlation between intelligence and any biological data—anything that would allow us to claim the existence of superior and inferior minds (p. 47)—any differences in the pace and times of children’s learning, for example, could be explained as the result of previous and varied causes. Following this line of argument, Rancière gives to understand that, as in the recourse to the categories of ‘genius’, ‘quick wit’, or ‘fate’, ‘intelligence’ is not a scientific concept, but rather a substantive which passes off as an essence that is nothing more than an accumulation of effects. So much so that it cannot be postulated as the explanation for any phenomenon, because intelligence itself needs to be explained.
A similar focus is found in the work of Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1978) in his critique of Jean Piaget:
In experimental investigations of the development of thinking in school children, it has been assumed that processes such as deduction and understanding, evolution of notions about the world, interpretation of physical causality, and mastery of logical forms of thought and abstract logic all occur by themselves, without any influence from school learning. (pp. 79–80)
Rancière (1991, pp. 24–5), in turn, suggests that most references to intelligence are only a way for those who have been successful or have failed in a certain context to explain this outcome to themselves, thereby hiding the real variables. Indeed, that recourse to intelligence is something that is shared equally by the supposedly ‘stupid’ or ‘intelligent’ should alert us to the fact that, regardless of what true processes underlie these two groups, they have nothing to do with intelligence and its differences. Here I propose that the determinants underlying what is generally known as ‘intelligence’ (together with the consequences frequently associated with it) are found in psychology and sociology, in the respective objects of these sciences.
It is important to note that Marxist sociology and psychoanalysis share the principle of equality of intelligences, although it does not appear explicitly in their literatures, as neither of these two theories refer to intelligence as a concept (explicit or implicit) nor as a category systematically located within them. It is simply taken for granted as a human faculty. That this implies, de facto, that all human beings are equal in intelligence is as sure as the idea that the principle of equal intelligence also implies that we must renounce intelligence as a concept, strictly speaking. I believe this is how we should understand the use that both Jacotot, in 1818, and Rancière, originally in 1987, made of the formula of equal intelligence without hierarchies. They used it to deactivate the functionality of a concept that only becomes effective to establish its inequality, and from that, to institute all types of effects, both educational and economic. This is the case in, for example, all the conventional pedagogies that Rancière files under the heading of the explicative order; those which, according to Jacotot, only lead to stultification; pedagogies that, in essence, hold that education is only possible if it first involves an explanation from a teacher who, proficient in the subject, makes the student understand the content of a book that he or she is a priori incapable of understanding by him or herself (Rancière, 1991, pp. 4–5). These pedagogies might never mention the principle of unequal intelligence and might even avoid any reference to intelligence in general; despite their silence, however, they do contain this category as a concept in the strong sense of the term, precisely because it is always qualified by inequality. Every explicative order takes for granted the principle of the inequality of intelligence between student and teacher (and also among the students themselves), and all the details and specific characteristics of their pedagogy exude the certainty of that assumption. It therefore becomes transparent in its effects. Once this schema is understood, Jacotot and Rancière’s educational proposal is presented as its contradictory opposite: given that they only refer to intelligence to say that it is equal in everyone, they dissolve any pedagogical and real power that this category might have.
But let us return to how psychoanalysis and Marxist sociology might be compatible with the principle of the equality of all intelligences. Regarding the latter, and leaving aside the obvious anthropological observation that people’s intelligence—that which allows them to be ‘producers of their conceptions, ideas, etc.’ (Marx & Engels, 1978, p. 26)—is an essential faculty for economic production, different levels of intelligence clearly have nothing to do with understanding and transforming the world in accordance with Marxist concepts. On the contrary, other factors, very different from intellectual capacity, were the key obstacles in this regard. Marx always clearly differentiated intelligence and the effects motivated by ideology, and ideology was the only thing that was affected by class division and, therefore, the only thing that his theory could take as a strictly conceptual variable, as an object of study. What has tended to happen throughout history, rather, is that the ideological enemies of Marxism have accused its followers of having serious intellectual deficiencies that are, moreover, biologically rooted—the red gene, according to A. Vallejo (1938), Francoist psychiatrist and director of Psychological Research of the Concentration Camps (Bandrés & Llavona, 1996). In turn, Marxist sociology has an intense distrust of intelligence and the privileges associated with it, focusing instead on the class differences in access to or distance from education and culture, or the possession and social worth of different kinds of cultural capital (Althusser, 1970; Marx & Engels, 1978, pp. 486–8; McLaren, 2011, p. 231; Wrigley, 2011).
A similar picture is seen in psychoanalysis. As said above, the function in Marxist sociology of mercantile exchange, social division of labor, and the ideological illusions deriving from them—the theory of fetishism, ideology, and phenomenal forms (Marx, 1959, Ch. XII, p. 146; 1991, Ch. XIX, p. 265; Marx & Engels, 1978, p. 154)—is held in psychoanalysis by the repression that the conscious ego exerts on the formations that come from the id, the unconscious part of the psyche. But perhaps most important is the way in which psychoanalysis combines the device of repression with stupidity, since these terms are never found at the same level; on the contrary, the former appears as the cause of the latter. Suffice to quote the following paragraph from Psychoanalysis for teachers and parents: Introductory lectures, by Anna Freud (1935), to appreciate the negative effects that repression has on intelligence:
Whoever has had the opportunity of being much with three-to-four-year-old children, or of playing with them, is amazed at the wealth of their fantasy, the extent of their vision, the lucidity of their minds and the inflexible logic of their questions and conclusions. Yet the very same children, when of school age, appear to the adult in close contact with them rather silly, superficial, and somewhat uninteresting. We ask with astonishment whatever has become of the child’s shrewdness and originality! Psychoanalysis reveals to us that these gifts of the little child have not been able to hold their own against the demands which have been made upon him; after the expiration of his fifth year they are as good as vanished. Obviously, to bring up “good” children is not without its dangers. The repressions which are required to achieve this result, the reaction-formations and the sublimations which have to be built up, are paid for at a quite definite cost. The originality of the child, together with a great deal of his energy and his talents, are sacrificed to being “good”.
Similarly, when repression becomes an obstacle to the popularity and functionality of psychoanalysis, this repression does not turn it into an intelligible or over-complicated theory, but it simply makes it completely anti-intuitive. However much a person understands repression, she is unlikely to identify anything in herself that leads her to associate it with her own case (no affect, no emotivity); normally, there is no indication that motivates a person to recognize herself in what the theory describes and about which the individual cannot retain any trace or mark, whether in the form of a memory in her consciousness, or of a physical development whose childhood states have also been left behind. How, then, can she be convinced that this forgetting is precisely the sign and the evidence? How can she be convinced that the absence of representations is an effect of the processes that psychoanalysis studies—not its refutation but rather its truth? Indeed it is a virtually impossible task. The only starting point that might guide her to reflect on the psychoanalytic perspective would be the symptoms, yet the appearance of symptoms is an effect of the same repression that ultimately prevents the person from recognizing them as such. For this reason therapy—except in certain stages of the transference (Freud, 1916–17, pp. 3478–9)—must not resort to theoretical or conceptual discussions to achieve its results, but should rather explore unconscious material. In the end, the same reasons that are behind the symptoms will be at the heart of the impossibility of the patient assuming, by herself and directly, the psychoanalytic truth—at least in a way that would be therapeutically effective.
But returning to the central question, psychoanalysis has other ways of proving the equality of intelligence of all individuals. Perhaps one of the main ways has to do with the fact that the therapy’s effectiveness is not conditioned by quantitative or qualitative degrees of intelligence. While Freud certainly argued that a minimum intelligence is needed for analysis to be successful, in his most famous clinical cases he alluded to the surprising intellectual capacity of his patients with astounding regularity. ‘He gave me the impression of being a clear-headed and shrewd person’ (Freud, 1909a, p. 2129), he writes of the Rat Man. He also highlights the Wolf Man’s ‘unimpeachable intelligence’ (1914, p. 3507); on D. P. Schreber, doctor in Law, he does not refute the patient’s own description of himself in his Memoirs—‘a man of superior mental gifts and endowed with an unusual keenness alike of intellect and of observation’—on the contrary, Freud (1911) says that ‘this piece of self-portraiture […] is certainly not unjustified’ (p. 2388). Similarly, writing about the patient Dora he notes ‘her natural gifts and her intellectual precocity’ (1901, p. 1361), and a glance at the case of Little Hans (Freud, 1909) supports what Rancière (1991, p. 7) denounces as lying behind traditional pedagogy: an underestimation of young children’s intelligence. In all these cases—but not only in them; indeed, one never fails to be amazed by this on reading the works of Freud—psychoanalysis reveals an incalculable intellectual power in individuals, an enormous capacity for memory and association in the productions in which the unconscious intervenes. When beginning to analyze dreams, slips of the tongue, covert memories, failed actions, and the whole series of symptoms, one discovers such richness and complexity (undertaken, moreover, in such a short period of time) that one cannot but accept that a beautiful mind is hidden in each one of us.
But let us not deceive ourselves. Freud’s discovery of drives and the unconscious not only aroused resistance because of the traumatic nature of its content (fantasies, perversions, and so on). The unusual intellectual strength it reveals in the individual continues to be the object of resistance. On the couch, the patient’s attitude toward herself must change in order to recognize that she enjoys (masochistically and sadistically) horrible unconscious phantoms that determine her; but she also has to reposition to take on board that (and through the intermediation of these same phantoms) her mind is effectively capable of producing, without effort, extremely complex metaphors and metonymies. Did I invent that?, she will ask in surprise. The fact that for Jacques Lacan primordial fantasy merits the name of paternal metaphor, hints, in some way, that every neurotic was once a poet. The symptoms, successive displacements of this primordial metaphor, still demonstrate this. In turn, it is a characteristic fact of therapy that those who most repress their artistic talents in their daily lives will have the most twisted symptoms, the thorniest dreams, and the most complex obsessions to interpret. On this question, Melanie Klein (2006, p. 585) warned that an over-accentuated repressive mechanism even limits the possibility of the libido’s expressing itself through sublimation, the least problematic channel that can exist. This is also seen in the therapeutic context when, as the analysis advances, the dreams become simpler, allowing the unconscious phantoms to be glimpsed more clearly. Jacques-Alain Miller (2007) completes this reasoning by stating that
[…] the essential benefit of an analysis is the one the subject obtains from having agreed to set to work on her own life and not let unconscious knowledge do the work for her. It is a benefit that comes to the subject through this working with words that is psychoanalysis, and, as may be expected from working with words, this benefit is that of putting it well. (p. 230)
Yet I am afraid there will always be those who, in view of the evidence of the equality of intelligences (which is also—I venture to say—a poetic equality), would prefer to go back to the old hie...