- Not overly concerned
with the cognitive side how learning in the mind, but rather with
the enabling and subduing factors that affect learning that are embedded
in our teaching/learning environments (society, technologies, schools
- Critical theory
seeks to reveal contradictions, social inequalities and dominances.
It attempts to make problematic what is taken for granted in culture,
so that a degree of social justice can be had by those who are oppressed.
- It suggests
that modern social crises in education and govt. are a result of overly
rational and scientific philosophies, and that we have largely abandoned
moral perspectives. They seek not to rid the system of scientific
philosophies, but just to restore them to balance with other aspects
of life like moral and ethical perspectives. Critical thinking is
not just a cognitive exercise, but also a moral and political one.
- Action research
in educational technology is valued where the students and teachers
(not technologists) should have the primary responsibility for the
research reports and activities.
- Not all technology
is bad. Technology can also be used in emancipating ways, and can
free people from repressive economies. (Daley, 1983) too often however,
we spend too effort building a better mouse-trap instead of studying
how technology can liberate perspectives.
in social status is believed to improve (be correlated to) achievement
- Critical feminists
are not happy with simply granting women equal speech time in classrooms
or encouraging marginal groups to be more participative—it doesn’t
get at the underlying sources of the problem. (Luke, 1992)
non-print media as well as this age of instant information, global
networking, and biogenetics all can serve to expose and collapse old
- A sizeable amount
of scientific research is an attempt to make and end-run around the
constraints of time, space, nature, and human nature at whatever cost.
It is time to focus research priorities less on gadgets and more on
what we need to know to live humanely, peacefully, and responsibly
on the earth. (Orr, 1992)
- This technical,
rational ideology dominates over more democratic-communicative ideologies.
- Critical theorists
are criticized for not demonstrating in any concrete way the superiority
of their views over others’. Their enlightenment may actually be
a form of dominance not liberation.
- Social justice
- Action research
- Shares many
concepts with post-modernism, feminism, post structural and deconstructivist
- Unlike post-modernism,
feminists, and deconstructivists, critical theorists claim a belief
in universals (“truth”)
- Shares the
sociology of technology belief that technology has built-in political
and social meanings (Winner, 1990)
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- This camp has
the tendency to view the world in a glass-half-empty way—angry, grouchy,
dare I say even-bossy people!
- They appear
to believe in external truth, and recognize that critical activities
are value-laden—unlike post-modernism.
- I’m not too
excited about the oppression and power structure aspects of this theory,
but like the notion of being critical as a learning device set forth
in critical pedagogy…and by extension critical andragogy.
- I also like
the view of being a critical consumer of mass (or any) media.
- Early critical
theory is very negative toward technology, but in my opinion, it is
a reaction to the heavy industrial technologies and industrial capitalism
of the day, and less with the information technologies of today.
- Enough already
with the minority complex! Easy for me to say cuz I’m a white, affluent(?),
western society, Judeo-Christian, male …and yet, I can feel oppressed
too if I want to…by American nationals (I’m not one), males who have
more hair, better physique, by people who are younger, own a car,
have real jobs, are smarter, have more toys, eat out--oppression is
also a frame of mind--I know, “oh that more people has my problems!”.
I agree that they are not a big deal in comparison with some oppression.
Relevance to Instructional
Systems Design (ISD)
- We should constantly
try to understand/reevaluate why we use technology in education, and
ask how technology contributes to the problems of education, communities,
individuals and the ecology/environment.
- Knowledge is
relevant only when it begin with student experiences; is critical
only when these experiences are shown to be possibly problematic;
(racist, sexist); and is transformative only when they use
the knowledge to help empower others.
- Be aware of
power structures in class (gender, native language, socio-economic)
- ID’s should
be wary of technologizing learning reducing student learning to the
development of mechanistic, valueless cognitive styles. Technology
should not be used to do things for or to learners.
- Teachers should
help demythologize the infallibility of educational programmers and
Five ID implications
- Find ways
to construct meanings in context
- Learn to
create/design non-coercive, meaning-making resources.
- Give up
designing teacher/user-proof (human-fumigated) instruction.
- Give up
seeing everything in terms of skills—instead, see learning in
terms of judgments, collective deliberation, and collective meaning-making.
directly in learning
What I Don’t Know
yet / Questions
- How caught up
are we really in the US with our technology? Is it a phenomenon unique
to this society, or industrialized nations as a whole? I suspect
it’s not as bad in other nations and societies.
- History has
always had its techno geeks— DaVinci, Merlin, the guy/gal with the
stronger-bred horse, the new cart wheel, the lighter sail, higher-yield
tomato plants, the more cleverly designed siege fortress, bread oven,
or spinning wheel. Has the phenomenon just escalated in the last
2 decades with computer technology?
- Can everyone
be empowered? How is one empowered without it being at the expense
of another? Will power structures always re-surface and re-emerge
in groups? Is full equality and homogeneity a desirable and achievable
- Would critical
theory allow for someone to choose “oppression”?