14 SES 13 A, Modernist Conceptions of Time and Urban Education in a Postmodern World
Objectives: A social imagination directed at the future cannot be separated from the past. While postmodern readings of the world (Foucault, 1977) continue to challenge traditional conceptions of truth and knowledge (Hursh, 1988), researchers cannot ignore the logical, linear, and modernistic expectations that people often bring to their worlds. This is especially true in urban communities where modernist tools are often used to contain people from heterogeneous backgrounds.
While schools treat time as a resource that can be allocated, used, and invested (Ben-Peretz, 1990; Fisher & Berliner, 1985; Time, Learning, and Afterschool Task Force, 2007), the human experience of time is recursive, reiterative, and idiosyncratic as individuals regularly revisit some events, forget others, and selectively draw on personal and historical pasts to make sense of the present and conceptualize possible futures (Lemke, 2000). While people experience time in postmodern, embodied, and lived ways, schools and other institutions tend to privilege linear and developmental clocks that assume that prior learning unproblematically builds on past understandings (Arlin, 1984). These modernist conceptions of time not only characterize the workings of institutions, but they often define ways participants strive to make sense of their experiences. Specifically, people ascribe to developmental and linear notions of education and learning despite the disjunctures that they experienced surrounding their own school experiences.
As researchers working in a variety of urban communities, we often strive to make sense of the experiences of participants who draw on modernistic notions of time and learning, life, childhood, and schooling despite the failure of these modernistic notions to explain the diverse communities we inhabit. Working hard in school does not necessarily lead to viable jobs. Many children are not exceeding the accomplishments of their parents. A working class background does not ensure a working class future. This presentation draws on four qualitative research studies conducted in four urban communities in the England, Australia, and the USA to examine temporal disjunctures across the modernist/postmodernist divide experienced by some participants, explore the consternation that these ruptures evoke, and examine the ways participants reconcile or fail to reconcile these ruptures.
Overview: Each of the four presenters will share data from a qualitative study to reveal disjunctures in the ways participants make sense of temporal experiences in urban contexts and the ways they work to reconcile these ruptures.
Scholarly Significance: While researchers can and must be cognizant of the theoretical frameworks they bring to their analyses, we cannot fail to recognize the formidable theorizing that occurs on the part of participants and the ways modernist ways of thinking and reasoning operate within what researchers might describe as postmodern contexts. Examinations of temporality provide a fruitful focus for exploring intersections of modernity and the postmodernity.
Session Structure: Following an introduction to temporal dimensions of modernist and post-modernist thought, four international presenters will share their papers. A discussant will respond to the papers and invite questions from the audience. Session attendees will be invited to participate in an informal conversation about issues raised in this presentation.
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