[Irritated, angry, I’m just furious. So angry! Part 4 of a series starting here]
Last post, I wrote about weak research standards in education from two angles: empty scientism and excessive skepticism. I already covered the scientism issue, so, while I have free time again on spring break, let’s hit the skepticism side. I’ll lay out the problem with a simple expression:
Critical Theory + poor scholarship.
Gasp! Critical Theory with capital letters, that bug-a-bear of our modern American culture wars! For now, define the term however you want because in my view it has become conventionally meaningless through extreme politicization and overuse. I’ll get to a formal textbook definition down below.
Until then, let it suffice for me to say that I am quite sympathetic to various pessimistic and skeptical approaches to philosophy. I don’t have a problem with critical theory per se and I’m not going to pull a Sokal / Boghossian et al. and reject an entire field of thought because, even if much of the work invoking it is junk, as I wrote last time, much data-driven, so-called “positivist” research is too. A substantial portion of academic output just kind of sucks in general. Happy times!
However, combine lazy usage of critical theory with the dog-awful educational research standards described in the previous post, and you get a uniquely noxious mess. To set the mood, I’ll just slap myself a poignant Lyotard quote, pulled from Francois Cusset’s funny intellectual history French Theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the Intellectual Life of The United States:
Continue reading “Ed School TnT 4: Bad is bad is bad is bad is bad is bad is bad is…”
My opinion is that theories are themselves narratives, but hidden; that one must not let oneself be deceived by their pretention to omnitemporality. — Jean-Francois Lyotard, Instructions Pai’ennes.