10 SES 05 C, International Teacher Education Issues
This paper discusses the experience of a teacher education program that has been developed by the Landless Workers Movement (MST), one of the largest social movements in Latin America that has struggled for agrarian reform in Brazil. One of the lessons that the MST has learned from its history is that it is not enough to struggle only for land. Education is also an important dimension of the MST’s struggles. The movement has established pre-service and in-service teacher education programs for those who teach at schools in its settlements and encampments. Therefore, the main goal of this paper is to discuss how the MST’s teacher education program has responded to three very important, intertwined, contemporary issues under which we live: global capitalism, neoliberalism, and “reactionary postmodernity.”
Many scholars from several academic areas all over the world have been discussing the phenomenon of globalization and its impact on different sectors of society (Stromquist & Monkman, 2000). Addressing not only the economic, but also the political and ideological facets of globalization, McLaren (2000) prefers to conceive of this phenomenon as capitalist domination on a global scale. However, in Santos’ (1997: 3) viewpoint, “there is strictly no single entity called globalization; there are, rather, globalizations, and we should use the term only in the plural.” As indicated by the author, there has been a distinction between hegemonic and counter-hegemonic globalization. The MST is a social movement in Brazil that acts locally and at the same time participates in a counter-hegemonic global alliance of peasants and small farmers called Via Campesina.
Globalization is “inextricably tied to the politics of neoliberalism” (McLaren, 2000: xxiv). Although the term neoliberalism has been used in Latin America since it was presented as “the formula” to promote economic growth in the region, the ideology itself is not new. As Bourdieu (1998: 34) states “neoliberalism is a very smart and very modern repacking of the oldest ideas of the oldest capitalists.” Basically, neoliberal ideology believes that, in order for corporations to maximize their profit and be able to compete in the global marketplace, an economy must be regulated by the market. Privatization of all public and state-owned enterprises is another principle of the neoliberal ideology. In short, as Apple (2001: 18) states “neoliberalism is in essence ‘capitalism with the gloves off.’” In Freire’s view, neoliberalism has produced a pragmatic discourse “which speaks of a new history without classes, without struggle, without ideologies, without left, and without right” (1996: 114). He calls this highly ideological discourse “reactionary postmodernity.”
Freire (1996: 84) argues that “reactionary postmodernity” has succeeded “in proclaiming the disappearance of ideologies and the emergence of a new history without social classes, therefore without antagonistic interests, without class struggle. They preach that there is no need to continue to speak about dreams, utopia, or social justice.” Thus, Freire criticizes the fatalistic and triumphalist view of “the end of history” which proclaims that there is no future beyond capitalism. Freire responds to the neoliberals saying that it is “only possible to destroy ideologies ideologically” (1996: 188). Although global capitalism, neoliberal ideology, and “reactionary postmodernity” have attempted to destroy our utopias and our capacity to dream, the experience of the MST in Brazil offers evidence that the dream that “another world is possible” is still very much alive.
Apple, M.W. (2001). Educating the “right” way. New York and London: RoutledgeFalmer. Bourdieu, P. (1998). Acts of resistance: Against the tyranny of the market. New York: The New Press. Caldart, R.S. (1997). Educação em movimento: Formação de educadoras e educadores no MST. Petrópolis: Vozes. Caldart, R.S. (2000). Pedagogia do Movimento Sem Terra. Petrópolis: Vozes. Caldart, R.S. (2003a). Movimento Sem Terra: Lições de Pedagogia. Currículo Sem Fronteiras, 3 (1), 50-59. Caldart, R.S. (2003b). A escola do campo em movimento. Currículo Sem Fronteiras, 3 (1), 60-81. Diniz-Pereira, J.E. (2013). “How the dreamers are born.” Struggles for social justice and the identity construction of activist educators in Brazil. New York: Peter Lang. Freire, P. (1996). Letters to Cristina: Reflections on my life and work. New York/London: Routledge. McLaren, P. (2000). CheGuevara, Paulo Freire, and the Pedagogy of Revolution. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefiled Publishers. Santos, B.S. (1997). Toward a multicultural conception of human rights. Zeitschrift für Rechtssoziologie, 18 (1), 1-15. Stromquist, N.P., & Monkman, K. (2000). Globalization and education: Integration and contestation across cultures. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
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