Friday, May 13, 2011

The Phoenix New Times Visits Tucson's Ethnic Studies Controversy

Posted By on Fri, May 13, 2011 at 9:39 AM

I haven't been the biggest fan of Phoenix New Times writer Stephen Lemons lately for his pro-Sound Strike stance, but it's nice that he came down to Tucson to actually try to understand the ethnic studies debate, something the people actually making the decision on a state level can't seem to be bothered to do:

In his finding against TUSD's ethnic studies, signed a day before the law actually went into effect, Horne slams acclaimed academic Paulo Freire, author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed, from which seniors in ethnic studies classes read excerpts.

Horne calls Freire a "Brazilian Marxist," which he was. He also was jailed by Brazil's military junta in the 1960s, forced to flee the country, and ended up a professor at Harvard and, later, moving on to Geneva, Switzerland.

If Horne had bothered to read and understand Freire's work regarding the philosophy of education, he would have realized that more than anything else, Freire was a humanist, and he was influenced by an intensely repressive political system, one that might well have killed him if he'd stayed in his native land.

Moreover, if you start excluding works of those influenced by Karl Marx, you'd have to rid your library of a truckload of modern authors: John Reed, Jean-Paul Sartre, and John Steinbeck, to name a few.

Ultimately, both Horne and MacEachern have taken an anti-intellectual stance, one described, ironically, in Freire's book.

Freire writes: "Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world."

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