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Remaking Education: The Democracy of Online Education

In 1998 I finished my Masters Degree. My thesis examined how hypertext is posited to be what Jacques Derrida understood as, “deconstructed text.”  Essentially, since hypertext would allow you to jump from page to page around the internet, it was at the minimum a physical representation of texts that had equal authority making the “reader” the “writer” resulting in a de-centered narrative that is more democratic. Readers have always used a variety of texts to support their efforts, so the concept isn’t completely original, however, greater access to texts through the internet did make it different, and potentially more democratic. A variety of texts could “redraw educational boundaries. [1]

Likewise, online education can be thought of an equalizing agent to deliver knowledge. It has the chance to be part of the postmodern understanding and address the problem of objective truth or the belief in a global narrative which can be recognized as principles of identity and authority and is highly problematic.  Postmodernism is fuzzed with plurality and skepticism and rejects global descriptions of “ways of knowing.” Postmodern online education has the opportunity to incorporate all people and not subject them to a definition of “Other” that marginalizes folks outside the white Euro-centric view.

Teachers of this postmodern era should be remade to affirm students and allow them to reclaim their identities and encourage their development. Teachers should not be de-skilled and technicized to a capitalistic epistemology. “Teachers should assume postmodern ideals and uncover the deeply institutionalized racism that is in fact the reality of the way they think and teach. [1] They need to acknowledge that, “the history demands for assimilation to white, middle-class, Christian meanings and values [and] history of white racism, with special focus on current colorblind ideology.” [2]

This demands that “teachers make the construction of their own voices, histories, and ideologies problematic and become more attentive to “Otherness” as a deeply, political and pedagogical issue.” [3] “Moreover, students who have to disavow their own racial heritage in order to succeed are being positioned to accept subject positions that are the source of power for a white dominate culture.” [4] Furthermore, “whites hold all of the power and force people to give up their power for a white dominate culture.” [4] They force the other to, “internalize white ways of thinking if they are going to succeed in the white way of world. [5]

“Within this discourse the “Other” not only sometimes ceases to be a historical agent, but is often defined within totalizing and universalistic theories that create a transcendental, rational, white, male, Euro-centric subject that occupies the centers of power while simultaneously appearing to exist outside of time and space. Read against this Euro-centric transcendental subject, the other is shown to lack any redeeming community traditions, collective voice or historical weight-and is reduced to the imagery of the colonizer. [6]

Online education and teaching can escape hierarchical assumptions of linear texts, and can include texts that represent what is outside accepted of mainstream knowledge.  This has radical implications over any presumed neutrality and objectivity even within science.  Likewise, there is need to explain the relationships between the “powers that be” and their language of oppression as stated by Michel Foucault. The whole platform is demonstrative of how education could be reshaped by postmodern intellectuals concerned with education and can culturally transform the next generation of students. Currently, the University of Minnesota is putting forth a proposal that would require all future teachers that are going to be certified by the University of Minnesota to sign on to a postmodern intellectual framework. Specifically, those Anglo teachers take a critical look at their assumptions and main stream beliefs. The University of Minnesota has a task force to address race, culture, class and gender to uncover myths, especially traditional components of the American dream so that anyone regardless of race, creed, gender, etc. can achieve happiness.

[1] Giroux, Henry. 1991. State University Press, Albany, NY. “Postmodernism, feminism, and cultural politics, Redrawing Educational Boundaries.

[2] Katherine Kersten, “At the University of Minnesota, Future Teachers May Be Reeducated,” Star Tribune, December, 2, 2009.

[3] Katherine Kersten, “At the University of Minnesota, Future Teachers May Be Reeducated,” Star Tribune, December, 2, 2009.

[4] Giroux, Henry. 1991. Miami University. Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Inc.  “Boarder Pedagogy as Postmodern Resistance.”

[5] Giroux, Henry. 1991. Miami University. Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Inc.  “Boarder Pedagogy as Postmodern Resistance.”

[6] Giroux, Henry. 1991. Miami University. Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Inc.  “Boarder Pedagogy as Postmodern Resistance.”

[7] Giroux, Henry. 1991. Miami University. Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Inc.  “Boarder Pedagogy as Postmodern Resistance.”