Do We Teach Change As Catastrophe?

27 12 2006

” Catastrophism is back as a respectable concept, so much so that
it is now the preordained conclusion we leap to, and therefore,
of which we must be wary. . .”

No, the scholarly phrase “early contact” doesn’t mean preschool in this 20-year-old treatise, but I see a message in it about education politics and cultures and power of story.

A Nation at Risk and much of the change it spawned in the last quarter-century was public school catastrophism, wasn’t it? Unschooling and homeschooling are thought by professors like Reich and Apple, to be a catastrophic threat to school’s social order. And I’ve learned the hard way over the past ten years or so, that home education advocacy is no exception to catastrophic education thought — its uneasy libertarian culture often seems rooted in catastrophic –cataclysmic!– assumptions and conclusions, almost as if change by definition constitutes a powerful force conspiring against liberty:

In place of the 19th-century apotheosis of the concept of evolutionary, gradual change, catastrophism (i.e. large-scale change within narrow time limits) . . .has returned, thanks to Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Einstein, Fermi, Oppenheimer. . .

“The Big Bang” has usurped “steady state” among cosmologists. Astronomers commonly talk about galaxies in collision. Astronomers, geologists, and paleontologists gather together to confer about asteroids and comets raining down on earth every twenty-six million years or so, wiping out most species, and thus providing
room for a surge of speciation.

And everybody, seemingly, is
stricken with fear of the threat of the thinning ozone layer,
paired with the greenhouse effect of too much carbon dioxide.
Catastrophism is back as a respectable concept, so much so that
it is now the preordained conclusion we leap to, and therefore,
of which we must be wary. . .


Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: