Legacies of Modernity and Colonialism in Schooling
1 Narratives of Progress and the Colonial Origins of Schooling
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1Narratives of Progress and the Colonial Origins of Schooling
In the West and regions influenced by the West, educators operate within a system structured by modernity and colonialism, though the history and legacies of both remain largely unrecognized and ignored in the field. Despite the fact that schooling is a primary forum for the transmission of language, citizenship, and culture, it is rare in recent decades for teacher preparation programs and schools of education to address the historical origins or cultural specificity of learning and identity. This absence of theory and history contributes to the wide pendulum swings that often occur within the field from: phonics to whole language reading instruction; bilingualism to English-only mandates; portfolio assessments to pencil-and-paper tests; or US national policies like the No Child Left Behind legislation to the Common Core Standards. Each generation of new teachers comes into the profession with little access to knowledge of what has gone before and without the theoretical resources to move beyond two-sided debates in order to investigate how language, nation, and identity unfold in their classrooms.
Many seemingly natural or commonsense policies and practices within the field of education—the age-graded organization of students, the chronological division of history from prehistoric to modern civilizations, and the exploration of regions and cultures one at a time, with sequential units, for example, on Native Americans or China—may appear inevitable or neutral to educators. Yet these patterns are implicated in the distribution and...
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