Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

The concept of the pendulum swing is a theory of change people use to reassure themselves that their side of the debate will prevail again, and so it is with Frederick Hess "in the midst of an implacable post-testing, post-accountability swing." In this column he suggests that progressive educators are in danger of repeating (what he feels are) the mistakes of the past with a new emphasis on social; and emotional learning (SEL) as for example in the Aspen Institute's recent "consensus" statement. Hess has advice for them, cautioning against "ideologically charged reforms" employing "hotly contested notions like 'restorative justice' and 'culturally relevant' pedagogy." He notes that "reasonable people can (and do) disagree on the merits of these." I'm not so sure. If justice is non-restorative, is it even justice? And if pedagogy isn't culturally relevant, isn't it just propaganda (at best) or colonialism (at worst)? It's an old dodge for some guy from Harvard to complain about what the 'elites' are 'imposing' on people, but I hope that people aren't fooled.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Feb 27, 2024 3:25 p.m.

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