Monday, 24 November 2014

EDUC 1F95 - Seminar 12 - The Pedagogy of Possession

I have been very excited to reach week 12 (in my Graduate 5P30 - Teaching, Learning, & Development) and read Norris’ article Arendt, Freire, and the Pedagogy of Possession as it links so closely with the TA work I am doing for Norris’ current EDUC 1F95 course. 

In 1F95, we are guiding first and second year students through the Introduction and Foundations of Educational History, Philosophy, and Sociology. For some of these students, it will be the first time they are exposed to applying critical thinking skills to micro and macro lenses of education from both a student and educator’s point of view. This paper weaves together an understanding of consumption and possession and how it relates to education, schooling, policy-making, and hidden curriculum. The big concept this week for 1F95 is exploring hegemony and how it exists in schools. Hegemony, in a very basic description is domination by consent. I am hoping by sharing this paper, written by their professor, with the students in 1F95 that with guidance, they will make connections between hegemony, consumption in schools and the pedagogy of possession.
Linking this article to the theme of development – we can see that the influence of consumerism has a major potential effect on the self-image and self-worth a student places on his or herself. The concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy is “the notion that the assumptions and expectations that teachers and other service workers hold about students can influence students’ lives” (Wotherspoon, 2013, p. 43).  The multiple influences that students receive at school help to shape their self-identity and meaning making processes. Agents of consumerism (marketing departments and companies) are constructing generation X & Y consumers as part of the socialization process in schools. Students are exposed to hundreds of consumer messages a day at school, these products and concepts embedded in the education environment make escaping the consumer reality near impossible. It is by illuminating the intent behind marketing and consumer culture to students that they can begin to create their own idea of how to construct their identity. In no way can we erase the inevitable influence consumerism has on students but making students aware and critical of it is one way to develop students as agents of change.
This model of preparing students to think critically about the choices and purchases they make does not work well for companies who bank on youth blindly consuming. There is a ‘significant incompatibility between commercial values and the promotion of critical thinking” (Norris, 2005, p.261). I wonder about the implications for the economy and society as a whole if in the next 50 years schools have encouraged students to develop exceptional critical thinking skills about the consumer culture around them. It seems like a good idea to have youth be aware of the obvious and hidden influences consumer culture has on identify and life-long meaning making. What if this has a profound negative impact on the way consumers exist in relation to the economy? It would seem as if the whole system would have to shift to accompany this new standard of critical thinking. Perhaps, however, that at that point the people running this consumer culture will be from Generation X & Y and will have a fantastic response to altering the consumer culture.
Norris, T. (2005). Re-thinking re-producing consumption: Hannah Arendt, Paulo Freire and the pedagogy of possession. Philosophical Studies in Education, 36, 77 - 90.

Wotherspoon, T. (2013). The Sociology of Education in Canada 4rd Ed. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-542660-1

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