Going North Thinking West: The Intersections of Social Class, Critical Thinking, and Politicized Writing Instruction

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Overview

A long-time writing program administrator and well-respected iconoclast, Irvin Peckham is strongly identified with progressive ideologies in education. However, in Going North Thinking West, Peckham mounts a serious critique of what is called critical pedagogy—primarily a project of the academic left—in spite of his own sympathies there.            College composition is fundamentally a middle-class enterprise, and is conducted by middle-class professionals, while student demographics show increasing presence of the working class. In spite of best intentions to ameliorate inequitable social class relationships, says Peckham, critical pedagogies can actually contribute to reproducing those relationships in traditional forms—not only perpetuating social inequities, but pushing working class students toward self-alienation, as well.            Peckham argues for more clarity on the history of critical thinking, social class structures and teacher identity (especially as these are theorized by Pierre Bourdieu), while he undertakes a critical inquiry of the teaching practices with which even he identifies.            Going North Thinking West focuses especially on writing teachers who claim a necessary linkage between critical thinking and writing skills; these would include both teachers who promote the fairly a-political position that argumentation is the obvious and necessary form of academic discourse, and more controversial teachers who advocate turning a classroom into a productive site of social transformation.            Ultimately, Peckham argues for a rereading of Freire (an icon of transformational pedagogy), and for a collaborative investigation of students’ worlds as the first step in a successful writing pedagogy. It is an argument for a pedagogy based on service to students rather than on transforming them.

 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874218046
  • Publisher: Utah State University Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2010
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 824,187
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

1 Intersections 1

Organization 11

Apology 14

2 Social Class 16

Absence of Class 16

Ontology of Class 23

Objectivity of Class 25

3 Language, Class, and Codes 28

Working-Class English 28

Bernstein's Analysis of Class Codes 30

Objections to Bernstein 34

Working-Class Students' Rights to Their Own Language 39

Middle-Class English and Freshman Composition 43

4 Critical Thinking 49

Historicizing Critical Thinking 50

Cognitive Strand 53

Social Strand 60

5 Arguing 66

Social Class and Argument 67

6 Cultural Studies and Composition 86

Central Contradictions 91

False Consciousness 103

Prescribing Critical Thinking 105

7 The Teachers 112

Critical Thinking in English 102 115

Difference and Diversity 123

Allodoxia: Putting the Blame Elsewhere 128

8 The Professors 143

Hubris or Humility 145

Good Practice 152

9 Going West 159

Making a Difference 161

References 166

Index 175

About the Author 177

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