NLA Discussion: Plain English
GEORGE E. DEMETRION
gdemetrion at juno.com
Tue Jun 9 20:57:21 EDT 1998
I'm not particularly concerned about the dense academic prose of the
school of radical critical pedagogy (Giroux, Aronowitz, McLaren, Shor,
Macedo) who have all built extensively on the "founding" work of Freire,
who turned a phrase or two, himself. The above are educational
professors, so its not surprising that they write to academics in a
scholarly idiom even though they would like to reach a broader audience.
I'm a bit troubled by reductionist logic that assumes they are being
exclusionary because of the prose they use. Rather, they are attempting
to communicate to critical audiences; other intellectuals who share the
broad discourse universe they inhabit. (We all attempt to do that, don't
we? and we all have our own in-house language that outsiders might
construe as jargon). To deny the validity of this discussion is to rule
academic discourse out of court a irrelevant and beyond the
interpretability of the broader educational community.
I would rather have Giroux et. al. duke it out with other academics so
that they can fully work out the logic of their arguments and to respond
to the intricacies of whatever critiques their work receives by other
intellectuals. (If you're reading their work and understanding it, you're
an intellectual whether you like the term or not. There may be dirty
words in the English language, but that ain't one of 'em in my book.). I
think it's asking a lot of the writers of radical critical pedagogy to
write in the plain style. It ain't their idiom.
Style is not something added onto content, but inseparable to it. We
encourage that linkage through process writing in our students and should
respect the need to connect style and content in all writers. In my
book, why not let Giroux soar to the heights of rhetorical ecstacy.
Therein, he finds and expresses his voice. As a result, he creates an
incredibly rich and provocative interpretation of educational theory and
practice that without the particular style which compells, his writing
his important contributions (many of which I disagree with) to
educational scholarship would not likely have been made.
Rather than expecting Giroux et. al to simplify their style (they have
already made a significant contribution and I want to see them continue
to push the envelope of their own logic and critical analysis than to
stop to "translate" their own work), I would encourage those who feel so
challenged by such work to take on the burden themselves to mediate the
theories that shape radical critical pedagogy to the broader audiences
that they believe need and would like to hear such discourse in an idiom
that they can grasp. There is plenty of mediating work to do to increase
dialogue between a range of scholarly frameworks and the critical
practice of those who teach and run programs. I'm more interested in
getting to the substance of some of this rather than harping on
intellectuals for writing in an academic discourse.
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