By Gary Thomas
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It is almost as though educators in continuing defence of Piaget were hypnotized by the theoretical power nexus which surrounded the man, finding it difficult to accept a challenge to what became almost canonical. The significant worry in all of this is that what invariably characterized those challenges was a more positive and optimistic view of children’s capabilities than that which inhered in Piagetian theory. Bower’s (1982) most important experiment, for instance, conjoined What’s the use of theory in education?
But why should the system continue further in the direction of the centre? Why should this order not proceed, so to speak, out of chaos? The case would be like the following – certain kind of plants multiply by seed, so that a seed always produces a plant of the same kind as that from which it was produced – but nothing in the seed corresponds to the plant which comes from it; so that it is impossible to infer the properties or structure of the plant from those of the seed that comes out of it – this can only be done from the history of the seed.
Carr (1995: 127) at one time suggested that it was in ‘confronting the postmodernist challenge’ that educational theory could ‘best defend Enlightenment ideals by seeking to multiply and extend emancipatory educational practices’. Although he has revised his views on the place and possibilities of theory (Carr, 2006), it is difficult, for me at least, to see how theory could be could have ever been enlisted to this aim. Foucault is just one proponent of anarchy and discontinuity, yet the intellectual current that has delivered discourse on the benefits of disorder comprises thinkers from far and wide.