Sunday, June 03, 2012

Annoying book

I have a stack of readings for my June class for doctoral work.  It's a class in adult learning theory.  So far what I've read has been fascinating.  Except for one book I had to buy but thankfully only had to read three chapters of.

It's Stephen Brookfield and John Holst's Radicalizing Adult Education.  I have read Brookfield's book on critical reflection and liked it, even had my TLC teachers read part of it, but at the time I didn't know anything about Frankfurt School, critical theory, Paolo Freire, etc.  Now I do know a bit so I see the point more clearly.

Part of me says Radicalizing Adult Education is just plain drivel.  It's a polemic on how we should become a democratic socialist government, how evil capitalism, George Bush, the Republican party, white people, etc. are.  The book could have been a monograph; I don't think there are enough ideas here for a book.  It is full of straw men arguments and contradictions.  The capitalists are bad because they fire people from their jobs.  But who hired them in the first place? (duh!) At one point they say, "Therefore, in the interests of fairness, it will be necessary to force people to pay attention to a socialist agenda" (p. 14).  Force? 

However. . . the point of doctoral classes is to be put into positions where one must read things one initially agrees with and would not read otherwise.  So, I am . . . And this is what I gained from it.

1.  We interpret Marx via Stalin, Mao, Lenin et al.  We do not understand what he was really saying.  That's not a defense of Marx.
2.  There is great injustice in this world.  It is not unusual for someone to want to solve it.  I just don't see that using adult education to persuade the adults to become democratic socialists is a way to do so.
3.  I can see how some of their ideas would work on a small scale, in a community.  But not on a national level.

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