Step Back From Crisis Rhetoric

I’m at #OpenEd13 this week, which is one reason why I haven’t been blogging. (Also, #NaNoWriMo.)

But I did want to write a quick post to share a couple of thoughts about Audrey Watters’s provocative keynote on “The Education Apocalypse,” which she has published (along with awesome slides!) at her blog.

Watters traced the “end times” narrative that’s dominant right now in stories about higher ed (and have been dominant for some time in K-12). She brought her training as a folklorist to bear on these myths that become our culture’s sacred stories about education. At the very end of her talk, she asked a really important question:

Why are we accepting these stories on faith?

That is a worthwhile question. Who is telling these stories of doom and gloom? Because it’s not teachers, and it’s also not students. Whose interests are being served when we engage in crisis rhetoric?

I hear a lot of crisis rhetoric about higher ed at my institution, but my own experience of working in higher ed is not the story of living in a crisis.

In fact, the only time I feel like I’m living in a crisis narrative is when my administration tells me I am. Which is often.

Why? Whose interests are served when a rhetoric of fear is used to drive change?

And if we “step back from crisis rhetoric,” as Watters suggests, what kinds of stories can we begin to tell about teaching and learning?





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