The foundational text of my teaching philosophy is “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatus: Notes Towards an Investigation” (1970) by Louis Althusser. As many of us transition to remote teaching, I’m reminded of this passage:
I ask the pardon of those teachers who, in dreadful conditions, attempt to turn the few weapons they can find in the history and learning they ‘teach’ against the ideology, the system and the practices in which they are trapped. They are a kind of hero. But they are rare and how many (the majority) do not even begin to suspect the ‘work’ the system (which is bigger than they are and crushes them) forces them to do, or worse, put all their heart and ingenuity into performing it with the most advanced awareness (the famous new methods!). So little do they suspect it that their own devotion contributes to the maintenance and nourishment of this ideological representation of the School, which makes the School today as ‘natural’, indispensable-useful and even beneficial for our contemporaries as the Church was ‘natural’, indispensable and generous for our ancestors a few centuries ago.
We may be in a critical moment in US history (though we’ve failed to rise to the occasion that many other critical moments–like Hurricane Katrina, like the War on Terror, like Sandy Hook, like the California wildfires), and teachers more than ever need to put “all our hearts and ingenuity” into teaching against the status quo.