The general purpose of the West Chester Critical Theories Conference is to promote and support critical scholarship within students, and to advance critical theory and pedagogy more generally. By “advance” we mean to expose more people to critical practices and understandings as part of the process of the development of theory. Through this focus we hope to work toward unifying and strengthening the sub-genres of critical pedagogy from Marxism, critical race theory, to critical neo-colonial studies. This goal is approached through the conferences internal pedagogy and therefore through a horizontal rather than a vertical organizing structure; by including students and classroom teachers in the critical pedagogical work dominated by professors; and by attempting to create a space where criticalists who do not usually work together can create meaningful unity, respect, and common goals. Since the dominant form of power in the twenty first century—neoliberal capitalist power—is both multicultural and global, critical pedagogy must too become more multicultural and global if it is to pose a significant challenge to it for a more democratic life after capitalism.
Because critical theory is concerned with not only understanding the world, but with transforming it, the conference is focused on not only understanding the consequences of an unjust social and economic system (i.e. corporate take-over of schools, high stakes testing and behaviorist pedagogy, micro classroom aggressions and bullying, poverty, racism, sexism, white supremacy, homophobia, perpetual war, ableism, etc.), but with transforming or dissolving their root causes (i.e. neoliberal capitalism and settler-state, Euro-centric oppression and their patriarchal, homophobic, racist, etc. hegemonies). As part of this goal the conference will hopefully provide introductory discussions and presentations on critical pedagogy and critical theory.
Robert Haworth is an assistant professor in the Department of Professional and Secondary Education at West Chester University. He teaches courses focusing on the social foundations of education, anarchism and critical pedagogies. He has published and presented internationally on anarchism, youth culture, informal learning spaces, and critical social studies education. He cofounded worker-owned and -operated Regeneration TV as well as other academic research collectives. Currently he is working on a coedited book on critical perspectives and informal learning, as well as writing a single-authored book entitled Horizontal Imaginaries: Education, Spontaneity, and Desire.
Mr. Haworth's new book Anarchist Pedagogies: Collective Actions, Theories, and Critical Reflections on Education includes contributors that engage readers in important and challenging issues in the area of anarchism and education. From Francisco Ferrer’s modern schools in Spain and the Work People’s College in the United States, to contemporary actions in developing “free skools” in the U.K. and Canada, to direct-action education such as learning to work as a “street medic” in the protests against neoliberalism, the contributors illustrate the importance of developing complex connections between educational theories and collective actions.
Stop by the PM Press table and check out all our new releases.
(See event web page)