I appreciate the posting of the Furman article and appreciated that although it touched on ecological and scientific themes, I was able to access the reading, not having a science background. The points of the article that engaged me the most were the discussions around the growing sense of urgency, among many people committed to educational equity and social justice, to “close” an “achievement gap”. This discourse often makes me uncomfortable and I appreciated the balanced discussion within the article around social justice themes and the importance for all scholars to embody a social justice perspective. I feel the authors were able to remain balanced due to their commitment to “surface the assumptions and narratives in which social justice is currently embedded” (page 50).
As a constructivist, I was excited to learn through the reading of the theory ‘critical humanism’ which reminded me of Critical Race Theory. Critical Race Theory asserts that racism in American society is normative and should not be questioned. Similar, to the way the authors described critical humanism as a theoretical framework, which views social constructions as inherently value-laden. This in is itself problematic because we include the values of one we inherently exclude the values of others. What I did find discomforting within the theory is its call for radical changes. While needed, I find to be problematic thinking when discussing systematic changes, especially in the field of leadership. The question that troubles most stakeholders in education, especially when considering inequities in education is the question of change. I believe change is at its core a complex and difficult and cannot be devoid without a discussion of how change can be sustainable in the face of widespread disproportionate inequities.
I also found “the focus on school underachievement as an indicator of social justice” to be problematic and too close to an subtle discussion that is often found within the deficit perspective, which places too great an emphasis on the what is wrong and has to be fixed within a community and not enough of a discussion on the wealth found within the community. This brings me the article’s discussion of critical pedagogy of place, quoting hooks who defines “decolonization as a process of cultural and historical liberation; an act of confrontation with a dominant system of thought” (page 58). This is why my work is centered on identifying and debunking the subtle occurrences of the deficient perspective because it becomes a dangerous and systematic “system of thought” which believes that a cultural deficit perspective is comprised of two parts: (a) the attribution of an individual’s achievement to cultural factors alone, without regard to individual characteristics; and, (b) the attribution of failure to a cultural group. In other words, a cultural deficit perspective is a view that individuals from some cultural groups lack the ability to achieve just because of their cultural background.
The danger of the deficit ideology is that it represents a repressive disposition and is a symptom of larger sociopolitical conditions and ideologies born out of complex socialization processes. The perspective cannot be combated without acknowledging and examining the processes that can eliminate racism and white supremacist ideology, which I feel the article began to acknowledge.
Overall, this article was thought-provoking and I learned about critical frameworks that I was not aware of prior to reading the article and I always appreciate scholarly works that call for a reimaging education, learning ad justice.