Hand-picked collections by special guests to help you sift through our archive

Learning Whiteness

by Arathi Sriprakash
Professor of Education, University of Bristol

I’m currently writing a book with two fabulous colleagues, Sophie Rudolph and Jessica Gerrard, which explores how education systems and practices produce and sustain structures of whiteness. Our argument is that whiteness is ‘learned’ through three interconnected dimensions of education: the epistemic, the material, and the affective.

A number of FreshEd speakers have helped me think through these interconnected dimensions, and here I recommend a few episodes that I hope you’ll also find thought-provoking. The first is by Suhanthie Motha who discusses how English language education is predicated on race and empire. To me, it is an example of how education is steeped in epistemic hierarchies that serve whiteness. The second is Leigh Patel’s discussion on settler colonialism which tunes us into the materiality of education systems; these are systems that rest on ongoing colonial extraction and dispossession. (It got me thinking about how we need to analyse the global education industry, the subject of Gita Steiner-Khamsi’s episode, through the lens of racial capitalism).  And finally, I found Irving Epstein’s discussion of the role of affect in forming hegemonic approaches to education policy and practice fascinating. The episode helped me think about the numerous affective registers that sustain whiteness in education, from the anxieties and fears of ‘too much’ diversity in institutions to the denial and defensiveness of whiteness in curricula, policy and so on.

I hope you enjoy listening to these episodes and connecting the many ideas contained in FreshEd’s archives to your research and practice.

No going back?

by Will Brehm
FreshEd Host and Lecturer, UCL Institute of Education

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about endless calls for systematic reform in education. But what sort of educational structure should we aim to reform?

With reform excitement in the air, I find it valuable to step back and think about the systems of education from a more critical viewpoint. It is in this perspective that I recommend three FreshEd episodes to help us think through our current moment. The first is a conversation with Leigh Patel who discusses the ways in which settler colonialism structures American society, including the academy. The second is a conversation with David Harvey who gives a Marxist critique of higher education. Finally, the third podcast is with Parfait Eloundou who discusses the assumption of meritocracy in education generally and the lack of a class analysis in the Sustainable Development Goals specifically. Together these three episodes show deep structures —  colonialism, capitalism, and meritocracy — that will need to be overcome if any meaningful reform in education will result from coronavirus.