Why Teaching People to Think for Themselves Is Repugnant to Religious Zealots and Rick Santorum

Why Teaching People to Think for Themselves Is Repugnant to Religious Zealots and Rick Santorum | | AlterNet.

By Henry A. Giroux

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I offer this article more for the discussion about education than for the politics itself, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to divorce the two, so perhaps it is even more relevant.

Excerpt:

     “What Santorum and his allies realize is that democracy cannot function without an informed citizenry and that, in the absence of such a citizenry, we have a public disinvested from either thinking reflectively or acting responsibly. There is nothing more feared by this group of fundamentalists than individuals who can actually think critically and reflectively and are willing to invest in reason and freedom rather than a crude moralism and a reductionistic appeal to faith as the ultimate basis of agency and politics.

       Paraphrasing Bill Moyers, critical pedagogy is, in part, part of a project whose purpose is to dignify ‘people so they become fully free to claim their moral and political agency.‘ In this instance, critical pedagogy opens up a space where students should be able to come to terms with their own power as critical agents; it provides a sphere where the unconditional freedom to question and assert one’s voice, however different, is central to the purpose of public education, if not democracy itself. And as a political and moral practice, pedagogy should make clear both the multiplicity and complexity of history as a narrative in which students can engage as part of critical dialogue rather than accept unquestioningly. Similarly, such a pedagogy should cultivate in students a healthy skepticism about power, a ‘willingness to temper any reverence for authority with a sense of critical awareness.’ As a performative practice, pedagogy should provide the conditions for students to be able to reflectively frame their own relationship to the on-going project of an unfinished democracy.”

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