Form(ulas) can be democratic

Gerald Graff is now arguing for a pedagogical formalism. What is apparently a counter-intuitive argument is — to my mind anyway — consistent with his advocacy of meta-pedagogy, a teaching of subject matter that is always in some sense about the teaching (the form of the teaching), such that "content" matters less than one might think under the liberal rubric of "teach the conflicts." In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, Graff and a colleague argue in favor of "formulaic" teaching. Here's a paragraph:

Unfortunately, bad formulas have been so pervasive in American schooling that it has become easy to dismiss formulas altogether. In attacking formulas, we feel we are being democratic, striking a blow against top-down oppression and defending the diversity of student voices. If it is true, however, that certain formulas can help students engage in true democratic dialogue, then it's time to rethink that logic and stop using "formulaic" as if it were a four-letter word.

Here's a link to the whole article.

And here's a link to an earlier entry here on Graff's early 1990's proposal that we teach the conflicts.

Thanks to Val Ross for sending me in the direction of this piece.