Henry A. Giroux and Peter McLaren argue that many of the recently recommended public-school reforms either sidestep or abandon the principles underlying education for a democratic citizenry developed by John Dewey and others in the early part of this century. Yet, Giroux and McLaren believe that this historical precedent suggests a way of reconceptualizing teaching and public schooling which revives the values of democratic citizenship and social justice. They demonstrate that teachers, as "transformative intellectuals," can reclaim space in schools for the exercise of critical citizenship via an ethical and political discourse that recasts,in emancipatory terms, the relationships between authority and teacher work, and schooling and the social order. Moreover, the authors outline a teacher education curriculum that links the critical study of power, language, culture, and history to the practice of a critical pedagogy, one that values student experience and student voice.
In presenting this essay, the editors of HER hope to initiate a dialogue that will continue in the November special issue, "Teachers, Teaching, and Teacher Education." We believe that Giroux and McLaren's provocative ideas serve well to usher in this discussion; they remind us also of the complexity of the issues which we as educators and as students confront in attempting to promote progressive forms of social, political, and intellectual life.