Or not so funny.
“Education is not about the mere reproduction of knowledge,” Hackman said. “Education is the practice of freedom. And as a result, we have to have [teaching] students becomes activists as well as teachers.”
Suspend your desire for reason, for a moment, for your own safety, as there is little that follows that will not make you cringe in pain.
Heather Hackman operates Hackman Consulting Group and was formerly a professor of multicultural education at Minnesota’s St. Cloud State University, where she taught future teachers. On Friday, Hackman was given a platform at WPC to deliver a workshop with the lengthy title “No Freedom Unless We Call Out the Wizard Behind The Curtain: Critically Addressing the Corrosive Effects of Whiteness in Teacher Education and Professional Development.” The long title masked a simple thesis on Hackman’s part: Modern education is hopelessly tainted by white supremacy and the “white imperial gaze,” and the solution is to train prospective teachers in college to be activists as well as pedagogues.
That Hackman was once a professor at a college no one cares about isn’t an issue. Nor is it an issue that she now has an educational consulting business. This is America, and anyone is allowed to open a putative consulting business. What is a problem, however, is that someone decided to let her hop atop a soapbox at the 17th Annual White Privilege Conference in Philadelphia. Or, of course, that there is such a thing as the annual White Privilege Conference.
“The racial narrative of White tends to be like this: Rugged individual, honest, hard-working, disciplined, rigorous, successful,” she said. “And so then, the narrative of U.S. public education: Individual assessments, competition, outcome over process (I care more about your grades than how you’re doing), ‘discipline’ where we care more about your attendance and making sure you’re not tardy than we care about your relationships … proper English must be spoken (which is just assimilation into standard U.S. dialect), hierarchical power structure, and heavy goal orientation.”
This is not to suggest that the educational establishment is otherwise doing a great job of things, but that what’s wrong with it is not it’s expectation that students “show up” as a manifestation of white supremacy.
How serious is Hackman? When she taught, she accepted papers from students written in “non-standard” English, as well as languages she didn’t know.
“If I don’t know [your language,] frankly, that’s my issue,” she said. “All I need to know is that your thinking about it, I don’t really care how you do it.”
Granted, this insanity might be easily dismissed as having been spewed at the 17th Annual White Privilege Conference. Not exactly the foremost conference for serious pedagogy, so what would you expect? And yet, evidence of this sort of irrational radicalism is showing up with increasing frequency. It may not be the mainstream of thought in education, but it’s not like it just one flaming nutjob named Hackman. And whoever is showing up at this conference such that it’s been held 17 years, they are the people who have access to other children’s education.
That any responsible educator would tolerate someone like Hackman, or who agrees with her, in a classroom anywhere near young people is outrageous. Putting aside whatever psychological ailments twist their inability to accept logical connections, they are harming students. Their students will emerge without knowledge. Their students will be taught that they are unconstrained by the need to know how to write, to speak, to think.
Hell, their students don’t have to show up, because that’s just a White thing.
No matter how deeply the pathology goes, sick people should not be given a soapbox to spread their insanity. And they most assuredly shouldn’t be allowed to inflict their diseased view on students. If they care at all for the children, they should do something else, far, far away from any impressionable youth. And if schools care about the children, they should not let anyone like Hackman, or who accepts the insanity Hackman spews, into a classroom.
Faber College isn’t real. Hackman is.