Monday, 24 October 2005

Radical Pedagogues and Malaprops

One ought to be charitable enough in one’s interpretations of the sayings of any man, such that, when he says he slept like a baby last night, one does not construe it to mean that he cried and wet the bed; for to interpret a saying against the meaning which a person has obviously imputed thereto shows a meanness of spirit and a perversity of will that is becoming to the scoundrel but not to any man who would fain hold some sense of decency.
It is by a similar criterion of charity, that, when two radical pedagogues opine that “Social inequities in the forms of sexism, racism, and classicism [sic] become means to insure inequity”, one presumes they are not railing in part against classical scholarship. Rather, one takes it that they have made a mistake in their choice of word, and that what they really mean is classism.
The opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasure of this malaprop we owe to Dr Stacey Gray Akyea and Dr Pamela Sandoval in their turgidly titled paper “A Feminist Perspective on Student Assessment: An Epistemology of Caring and Concern” (Radical Pedagogy, Vol 6:2, Winter 2005.), in which one finds the usual stock phrases, excuses and obsessions of egalitarian radicalism. The following quote from the paper contains another instance of the malaprop, but it contains also a statement that clearly reveals the kind of society that these fighters for social justice would like to see created:
While discussion of innate abilities and personal development appear to be on opposite sides of establishing a literate democratic society, there are other issues, which equally present undue challenges to teaching such as social inequalities in the form of sexism, racism and classicism [sic].
Here the authors are verbally rich enough to be explicit in partly defining what they mean by the phrase “literate democratic society”, and thus no charity need be extended to them; for by their own words they make it quite plain that they feel that a “literate democratic society” would require for its establishment – and thus presumably for its maintenance – an intolerance against discussion of innate abilities and personal development. If I find the prospect of this “literate democratic society” of theirs rather a bleak one, I am at least consoled with the hope that what they mean by “literate” connotes at the very least that the professors and the pedagogues will be able to consult dictionaries and learn to distinguish between words, though for the benefit of your consideration, I must confess that I entertain many hopes for many unlikely happenings.


dearieme said...

I've read the excerpt several times and thought about it, on and off, for 24 hours and still can't see what it is that they're saying. It's written in English that would have been failed at O-level. qsir

Deogolwulf said...

It's worrying that these persons are teaching, isn't it? But if it were down to rank incompetance only, I should not worry much. I fear, however, that in much of their writing (and in the writings of other radicals), the ambiguity and the senseless abstractions are deliberately employed in order to render rational thought thereabouts and criticism thereof difficult.