Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How Discourse Made the NMAP a Colonialist

Everything is political, as "Pictures at a Conversation" illustrated quite well. And any discussion of how education "should" be necessarily ends in aporia.

Case in point: the NMAP seems to advocate for teaching education as a monolith (I'm guessing the NMAP would call it "utopian interdisciplinarity") while I advocate for a more granular application of general principles, or even that general principles don't often contextualize as well as the NMAP would like us to believe (which I'm sure the NMAP could call something totally different). Disciplinary relationships are tenuous...take CALL, for example. Even though ESL and FL CALL have been happily "married" for decades, at its foundation it is still a power struggle.

I'm reminded of a book by Adrian Holliday entitled The Struggle to Teach English as an International Language that shows that, if anything, disciplines tend towards becoming even more granular, not less. Holliday uses a discourse of colonialism to challenge "native-speakerism" and advocates for the divestiture in the ESL profession of what has increasingly become an outdated perception of language "ownership" by native speakers, and this as a way to include NNS as not only worthy lecturers of the profession, but a subset worthy of disciplinarity themselves.

It occurs to me that it would be easy (perhaps facile) to take the NMAP's "we are all educators" paragraph, which seems quite interdisciplinary/collaborative, and make it seem quite nefarious and even nativist by hijacking Holliday's discourse and applying it to "education". It could be argued that the NMAP espouses an "essentialist" view of education, a historical force rooted in colonialism, pressuring us into a kind of mindset that colleges of eduation have a monopoly on the proper characteristics of pedagogy, critical thinking, and so on, that reduces 'non-native' education colleagues to suit its own structures...devalues their realities; and ignores the way in which these realities resist the 'dominant' educational dialogue.