Investigating the infiltration of "Woke" ideologies, including Freirean Pedagogy, Idea Laundering, and Marxism, and their controversial implications for education systems and intellectual growth
When I did my teacher training in 1974, I was involved in an 'alternative' course which traded in what was then known as New Left (read early Woke). We read Freire as part of our attempt to find ideological praxis in the classroom.....you know, the pedagogy of the oppressed....
The course was a fraud and a dangerous one, because it broke down the very necessary authority/personal/sexual barriers between adult and child that should accompany pedagogy based around knowledge (and the knowledgeable) and those yet to learn the knowledge base, and who weren't knowledgeable. We lost sight of that in a welter of faith-based 'consciousness raising' that our students never properly understood, because they didn't know enough to do so.
We thought of (and treated) students as if they were equals. They weren't. The whole relationship created by our ideological fictionalizing was a fantasy and the students learnt little from so called radical 'teachers' who had never had any significant training in how to systematically structure knowledge properly for learning purposes. We had thrown away the baby with the bathwater and went by the seat of our untrained pants, using 'curriculum' that rapidly became inchoate and ineffective, as my cohort went up the system.
I learned more about pedagogy in my years in the part time citizens' army than I ever did at university; a lot more.
I look back on the period now with absolute mortification, because we started to screw up the education system in ways from which it has not recovered. And its legacy is incompetent as it is toxic.
Crenshaw lied in one of her foundational articles (prior to the '91 article) about crucial things relating to the law.
She also confuses "intersecting" legal causes with "intersecting" oppressions or disadvantage, and "intersectional" group categories, throughout her discussion.
This whole movement is based on entirely bogus scholarship.
This is an excellent essay helping us to understand the basis for this "woke" ideology that is simply repurposed Marxist ideology. After learning about the Frierean Pedagogy that appears to be a policy implemented around the world, I looked to my own school in the province of BC to see what conduit was used to implement these Marxist policies and discovered this odd document called the, "Spiral of inquiry" published in 2013. Written by Judy Halpert and Linda Kaser , this document states that the inquiry is about being "open to new learning and taking informed action". It goes on to state that there are 6 stages to making education more equitable by asking important questions like, "What is going on for our learners? How do we know? and Why does it matter? The handbook offers specific inquiry tools and "presents an approachable and yet innovative framework for inquiry that is influencing schools and districts across BC and other parts of the world." Reading carefully through the document, one begins to recognize the same language similar to SEL(social, emotional learning)implemented in the US where the school system is no longer interested in traditional education grounded in history and facts but is completely focussed on the social and emotional response to learning. It is vague, confusing and open ended which focusses on relearning everything for what they claim to be resulting in a more equitable outcome. This document appears to be treated like the holy bible of new Marxist learning and is constantly referenced as the check list for this new world order they are trying to create.
Chris originally made this excellent discussion on his own substack and I left a comment there which I reproduce below. I think it is imperative that, in order understand woke, we trace the history of the radical ideologies that produced it, especially the precursors to identity politics. Chris's piece does that and I add some parallel developments below.
As for your comment that intersectionality has Marxist roots, this is essentially correct. In a post for Woke Watch Canada, I elaborate on this further - intersectionality is Crenshaw's metaphor, but the concept goes back several decades earlier to the black feminist ideology of "triple oppression." As I detailed in the post, black feminists introduce this concept after falling out with the communist party of America (they were aligned for a time due to their common enemies). "Oppression" rhetoric in general has Marxist connotations. https://wokewatchcanada.substack.com/p/a-moral-chimera
Oh, I see much further down in your post, you draw on Lindsay's discussion of the origin of intersectionality which puts it back in the Marxist / Black Feminist group known as the Combahee River Collective. That group should be credited with coining the term "identity politics," I believe in the 1960s, but I think triple oppression rhetoric is in use in even earlier black feminist circles (see my link above). The collective extends the concept, and Crenshaw perpetuates it.
As for the rise of intellectual Marxism in Western institutions in the 60s, in addition to the Frankfurt school, we would want to look to the Marxism of Cultural Studies. Culture Studies became the missing theory component of media studies in universities across the English speaking world in the 1970s and teaches students to be "critical" of institutional power (i.e. to carry water for the revolution). Yes one could naturally be critical of power, but this sort of theory is always critical with an imbedded political purpose (the design of its creators). Prior to the rise of such a theory component, media studies and journalism schools were largely practical affairs about how to work with a film crew and so forth. Of course, the intellectual root of Culture Studies is that it was created by 3 Marxists based in Birmingham , England, at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_studies . Marxist E.P. Thompson who you mention was part of this Culture Studies movement I'm quite sure.
As my posts at Woke watch Canada have highlighted, there is another way in which Marxism has influenced the rise of identity politics, and more directly perhaps than either the Frankfurt school or Culture Studies. That would be the way in which Marxist "anti-racism" initiatives, from Lenin onward, have coalesced with the black radical tradition (the latter being a mixture of black nationalist and black Marxist ideologies) in order to produce such concepts as identity politics, systemic racism, decolonization and so forth. In the 1970s and 80s, it was the founding of Black Studies departments that transformed the Marxist street activist ideology of groups like the black panthers into institutionalized activism and gave it the veneer of intellectual credibility — shameless radicals in sociology ate up ideas like "systemic racism" wholesale as well. Such ideology is now the official ideology of most Western institutions.
I've written about that here: https://wokewatchcanada.substack.com/p/a-moral-chimera
In my view, the menace of postmodernism is somewhat secondary - many of the worst themes of woke have the root in black radical identity politics (systemic racism, intersectionality, the notion identity politics itself, decolonization, lived experience, blackness, whiteness and so forth). Legions of latte sipping left of liberals, and worse "liberals," have come to ape these concepts along with their intellectually trendy and edgy postmodernist critiques — but they are not postmodern in origin. Postmodernism borrowed most of its teeth from other radical movements in my view, without these teeth, its nothing but epistemological nihilism.
In any case, excellent piece I think you're saying great things here. In addition to Lindsay's work, an excellent place to chart Friere's impact on education, together with the history and impact of all his Marxist liberty-hating colleagues, is Isaac Gottesman's book "The Critical Turn in Education." Gottesman is a detestable weasel who has written a book which says all of the quiet parts out loud because he is openly celebrating the Marxist take over of education - perhaps because he is so convinced that the next generation will be so brainwashed as to penguin clap along with him
DiAngelo, who is referenced in the article, is said to cover “all possible angles, asserting that if you are white and straight, you are inherently racist and have no connection to the truth. Hence, the expectation is that you should passively accept everything she says. It’s also important to note that DiAngelo herself is white.” It is also important to note that she has written a book that is full of claptrap and derision of those of lighter pallor. That she has become celebrated is indeed sad. As for the article above, it is a tour de force. Bravo.
I teach elementary school. I overheard this conversation between two young grade 5 teachers this week (paraphrased).
"One of the boys in my class was making fun of the way another boy ran during phys-ed class. I had to stop the entire class and give them a lesson on ablism and heteronormativity. It took up the rest of the period. I shouldn't have to deal with this in 2023."
To me the main question when interacting with others is: what is their motivation? Are they good faith actors, looking out for my best interests and trying to persuade me, yet leave me free, to make my own choices, or do they have agenda, are acting in bad faith (even if not consciously) and are trying to manipulate me, and/or coerce me, often using guilt as a tool. Its not easy for young people to necessarily easily differentiate between these two groups of people, but its easier for adults. Its definitely a skill people need to learn if they wish to be successful and effective in life. Today when I see so often the school system pushing socio-political agendas, as described here, I know the kind of people behind it. Robin Di Angelo and her cohort are master manipulators. Anytime you see someone being guilted into something, you know what is going on.
One final comment, the thing about Robin Di Angelo (and her fellow travelers) is they design Kafka Traps right up front into their work. Which openly demonstrates they are bad faith actors, they are not trying to persuade, they are trying to manipulate. And many people, especially agreeable people with an element of neuroticism, who are prone to guilt, fall prey to the manipulations.
The final question posed here, it what can you do about it? I would say, join FAIR, find other like-minded parents, start to work together to push back. Write letters of complaint and protest. I hope that in Ottawa (and maybe Ontario) we will be able to build a Parents Unions of sorts to be operate with power and collectively. Whatever you do, don't be silent. The vast majority of parents are reasonable, and are mostly not aware of what is going on.
Academic skill deficiencies are glaringly obvious in Ontario students. The reason is patently obvious. They are not taught the basic fundamental elements necessary for a solid education. Like the proverb, "too many chefs spoil the soup", students have become the victims of over zealous theoreticians obsessed with promoting the newest untested theories on unsuspecting children aided and abetted by glad hand administrators. The best word to describe this is, "VOMITUS"
“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”
― C.S. Lewis
Fine exposé of a very dangerous movement.
This is excellent. Thanks for posting this. We need more and more of it, to explain to normies what is going on. In fall 2022, the OCDSB put out a weekly parent update e-mail cautioning parent to avoid dressing their kids in 'inappropriate' costumes, specifically explaining how doing so in many cases was 'cultural appropriation'. The Director of Education (the CEO effectively) name of Camille Williams-Taylor had taken it upon herself to 'teach' parents. I wrote a letter of complaint, specifically that it was patronizing, and not her place (or the OCDSBs place) to tell parents how to dress their kid for Halloween, at school or in public.
The article contains a lot of information to unpack and I agree, essentially, with most of it since I studied Marxism and Critical Theory in depth while in university during the 1990s, refuting some of it in essays directed to professors willing to entertain another POV. The issue of "cultural appropriation", however, is a sticky one. In the example provided of the Hawaiian themed school event, I have a question: was the content based on actual Hawaiian culture (provided by experts on the subject) or commercialized Hawaiian culture that was incorrect? If the former, I see no problem whatever in holding the event as it was simply teaching students about another culture in a fun and accurate way. Unfortunately, not all attempts to teach about other cultures are respectful or accurate. So-called pagan worship by the Celts is one example; Judaism based on Christian scriptures is another. As a former journalist I always went to "the horse's mouth" to get my information, which means interviews with/or writings by experts from that culture. Cultural appropriation means imposing one's own point of view and often incorporating inaccuracies to do so. But if the information is accurate, no appropriation exists. Ironically, those who scream and yell about cultural appropriation often practice it daily in their distortion of Western colonial history! Let us all try to be purveyors of truth - not propaganda - when we communicate about our own and other cultures.