Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Marx and Education: Misleading Title and Confusing Narrative


April 13th 2011
By m310 - See all my reviews (on Amazon.com)
Review at Amazon.com: Marx and Education (Routledge Key Ideas in Education) (Paperback)

This had the potential to be a book that shed important light on the Marxist educational tradition; however, I was confused by the narrative. The title misled me into believing that I was in for a discussion of Marxist educators. Originally, I was interested in the book because I hoped it would augment the writings of U.S. Marxists, such as Ramin Farahmandpur, Rich Gibson, E. Wayne Ross, and a few others. Yet the book is dedicated to neo-Marxists, and while she gives attention to McLaren as a progressive educator (mid-1980s), she provides scant attention to his Marxist writings. Those who have read any of McLaren’s writings since 1995 know that he is a Marxist-Humanist; he is clearly not a neo-Marxist. Anyone following Marxism in education in the US would be hard pressed to find a more prominent and influential exponent than McLaren.

Furthermore, the significant contributions made upon U.S. Marxists by British Marxists such as Glenn Rikowski, Paula Allman, Dave Hill, and Mike Cole, are not highlighted. Why were there no significant discussions of Valerie Scatamburlo D'Annibale and Deb Kelsh? The narrative in this book is not so much about Marxist educators but rather progressive and neo-Marxist educators. Where were discussions of contributions of John Holst and Himani Bannerji? The book, Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory – a milestone in the debates over Marxism and education – was not even mentioned. This truly was a narrow reading of a very small field and as a result has shortchanged its readers. Mike Cole's work in England is far superior.

Anyon has done good work on urban education, but needs to be more aware of what is happening in the Marxist arena as far as education is concerned. I like her basic summary of Marxist analysis but wanted to find out more about U.S.-based Marxist educators, especially since there are so few of them.

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski
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