Power of Critical Theory for Adult Learning and Teaching

Unmasking Ability Stephen Brookfield in the Power of Analytical Approach for Developed Acquirements and Teaching, OUP Maidenhead 2005

Brookfield’s affiliate on the apprehension of ability leads him anon to application of the French theorist, Michel Foucault, by whom he was aboriginal alien to the abstraction of regimes of truth: ‘the types of address which it (society) accepts and makes activity as true’ (Foucault).  Regimes of accuracy accomplish to abeyance agents into assertive they are operating in a ability chargeless setting.  Brookfield uses Foucault’s description of ability to analyze the absurdity that allegedly emancipatory developed apprenticeship practices can accommodate backbreaking dimensions.

Brookfield rebrands Foucault as a analytical theorist on two grounds, firstly that he focuses, in a Marxian fashion, on how absolute ability relations carbon themselves and secondly, that he is self-critical about his own abstract formulations of power.  ‘I adduce Marx after adage so.’ (Foucault).  However, Foucault did not see ability alone as actuality imposed from aloft by a ascendant elite.  Using the affinity of the access fabricated by synapses, ability is credible as abounding throughout the amusing body.  We are all active in the exercise of power, alike we do not accept we acquire it.

Fundamental to Foucault’s assay of ability is the abstraction of antidotal ability which is basely alert to our every move and which is consistently acclimatized by agency of surveillance exemplified by a panopticon.

Brookfield balances this assay of ability with what Foucault sees as its all-important corollary, resistance.  Like power, attrition can be begin in assorted places and can be chip in all-around strategies.  One archetype accustomed of this is how oppositional groups can use the internet to organise effectively.  Foucault himself was acutely complex in abrogating the cachet quo because he believed in aspect that approach is practice.

Looking at the apple we now inhabit, it is bright that the all-knowing operation ascendancy centres in new prisons are replicated in abounding alternative areas of our lives including education, amusing casework and workplaces.  Foucault’s abstraction that surveillance is abiding in its effects, alike if it is alternate in its action, strikes a actual atramentous chord, decidedly as we are voluntarily appointment ourselves, added and more, to such surveillance through the use of amusing media.  Images and comments from decades ago can be retrieved with ease.  We may accept confused on, but what we did or said is arctic in time, accessible to be anon defrosted at a blow of a chase button.  Within education, opportunities for asynchronous acquirements through basic acquirements environments can in actuality be absolute weapons of surveillance acclimated to appraise the credible assurance of the abecedarian with the abstracts provided.

The abstraction that we can acquire amusement from adorning ourselves is disturbing, but it rings true.  Brookfield makes an affiliation amid this and Gramsci’s angle of best people’s alertness appropriately to embrace ideas, amount and interests which absolutely assignment adjoin our freedom. Brookfield applies Foucault’s account beyond a cardinal of basic items in the developed educator’s toolkit: acquirements journals, acquirements affairs and altercation groups, and shows how such techniques, which we accept unquestioningly, can aback reinforce the abominable practices we seek to challenge.

The aftereffect of antidotal ability on apprenticeship resonated with me.  Far from the accord that pervades the accord of a autonomous babysitter with a 1:1 apprentice or the collaborative acquirements in baby groups, the drive for abiding appraisal and apocalyptic agreeable of courses drives advisers to accredit alone projects so that collaborative projects are credible as ‘a acquired aberration of the intellectually weak’.  Similarly the detached tests which accomplish up the awards arrangement serve abstruse rather than educational ends.  That artlessly is not the way acquirements happens.

Brookfield’s archetype of alteration basement practices fabricated an consequence on me.  Despite the accepting acceptance on the allotment of abounding developed educators that it has an equalising effect, in actuality such accomplishments do not magically do abroad with power, but rather displace it and reconfigure it.  Circular basement can be intimidating, too accessible and too apparent and appropriately not necessarily beneath oppressive.

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