Tools For Thought: Colonialism / Postcolonialism?

October 20, 2008 § Leave a comment

We are reading texts on colonialism and post colonialism right now and much as I hate to entertain the idea, it seems they might be pertinent to a Foucauldian analysis of approach and attitude toward digital technology.

Or is this just my over active imagination looking for a meaningful connection to texts that I am required to read and write about?

I’m working with the idea that we don’t actually change our minds when we want to change our perspectives, we change our memories. In any given moment, we are accessing memories – semantic, affective, short term, long term, emotional, to make sense of our current experience. Educational consciousness is bound to be layered with memories that are communicated through induction processes from one generation of teachers to another. The most subtle and non-conscious aspects of these memories are going to be conveyed below the radar of conscious thought and language. The level of communication is going to be carried out at the level of countenance and comportment, the smallest nuances of expression and body language evoking a history of ‘common sense’ or cultural tradition.

Research in cognition and consciousness are showing that in order to change one’s implicit associations with objects and people, it is the memories that need to be addressed, not the present moment thought construction. It has been found that people can change their implicit associations to race and stereotyping if they experience non-stereotypical encounters with racially marked individuals (see Malcolm Gladwell, Blink, Banaji, Bargh).

It seems to me, that if I am going to look at the formation of acceptance, resistance and opposition in teachers attitudes toward digital technology (change), I am also going to be looking at the formation of memories that contribute to the beliefs that underly the attitude. In order to look at the formation of those memories, I think I need to use colonialism, and post-colonialism, as a way to understand the contexts of those memory formations.

It would be entirely unreasonable to expect education, educators, and educational institutions to have been able to purge themselves of ‘five centuries of studying, classifying, and ordering humanity within an imperial context (Willinsky p. 2). It is much more likely that layers of imperialist intellectual frameworks continue to operate and will remain in place unless we understand the conscious mechanisms that would dislodge them.

Where in the world does this fit in my overall scheme? It seems to rear it’s ugly head like a pimple before a date. What I had so neatly laid out as a conceptual framework is disturbed and disrupted by this ugly troll hiding beneath my bed.


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