Study Guide

Antonio Gramsci - Way Too Cool for "Too Cool for School"

Way Too Cool for "Too Cool for School"

These good men and women believe, with Gramsci and his loyal follower Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, in the possibilities of education. Think that fighting the good fight is all about damning the man? Think again. This group is here to tell you that it's also about educating the educators. (Check out Marx's "Theses on Feuerbach" if you want to know what "educating the educators" means.) These people believe that achieving social change isn't just a matter of staying in school; it's also a matter of establishing schools all over the world.

Karl Marx

Perhaps you've heard of him. What you may not know is that Marx thought education was totally important. So what if he didn't spend as much time discussing teaching as he did plotting the overthrow of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat? Marx still gave education pride of place, as Spivak has spent years showing. Still don't believe us? Check out the third of Marx's "Theses on Feuerbach" for some solid evidence of Marx's love for school.

Paulo Freire

This Brazilian activist is best known for his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which changed the way people thought about the relationship between teacher and student. Freire wasn't in direct conversation with Gramsci—at least not that we know of—but his book, like Gramsci's Prison Notebooks, showed that education could be an instrument of social change.

Jacques Derrida

Whatever else he was—don't get some people started—Derrida was also a beloved teacher to many, including Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. His writings on education are few and far between, but what's there is pretty decisive.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Among her many other talents, Spivak's got a gift for school building. That's right: this theorist, professor, and high priestess of deconstruction also happens to educate educators in the most literal, down-and-dirty way: she founds schools that serve the rural poor in far-flung places in her native Bengal. And she trains teachers there—inspired by Gramsci, of course.

bell hooks

That's right: those lower case letters are there for a reason. hooks doesn't capitalize her first or last name. What she does assign capital importance to, though, is pedagogy. And in this she is Gramsci's ally.

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