Becoming Subjects of History

  • Susan Jean Mayer


As the AAACS begins its second decade of work, the JAAACS editorial team is expanding, in part in response to challenges presented to AAACS members by Peter Applebaum in his presidential address last spring in New Orleans. As those in attendance may recall and others can read in this issue, Peter chronicled the work of the AAACS’s first decade as a prelude to proposing we redouble our practical efforts to agitate and effect change.

In this regard, Peter referenced Dennis Carlson’s 2005 discussion in this journal of Bill Pinar’s 2003 call to, as Peter put it, “become “temporal” subjects of history, living simultaneously in the past, present, and future – aware of the historical conditions that have shaped the current situation, engaged in the present battles being waged over the course and direction of public education, and committed to rebuilding a democratic public sphere.

Two new JAAACS sections, North American Literature and International Literature, frame this editorial team’s renewed efforts to live in view of our past and to anticipate our future. The first of these, introduced by section editor Patrick Roberts following this note, builds from the AAACS canon project, which Patrick chaired in its final year. The International section, in contrast and in relationship, will contribute to realizing this organization’s founding intention to move toward an increasingly international conversation within the curriculum studies field.

Although we do not yet have our new International Literature section editor in place, we are reprinting in this issue the first chapter from Bill Pinar’s recent edited volume entitled Curriculum Studies in Brazil: Intellectual Histories, Present Circumstances (Palgrave, 2011). This chapter, written by Ashwani Kumar, provides an overview of the intellectual history of the Brazilian curriculum studies field, allowing all AAACS members to consider and to reflect upon intersections and disjunctions between the Brazilian and North American fields whether or not they are able to attend our IAACS conference in Rio de Janeiro this July.

Next, José Pacheco’s piece on the current North American field poses a number of provocative contrasts and comparisons with Ashwani’s portrayal of the historic and contemporary Brazilian fields. In what ways do North American scholars yet remain constrained by the grandiosity of their inherited cultural aspirations? Which aspects of our refracted visions do we scholars of the so-called New World owe to the diminished and so liberatory expectations of Continental philosophers?

All while the distinctively North American project of seeking to label and tally the fruits of our pedagogical engagements proceeds apace. Alan Block’s and Nancy Brooks’ articles both consider the work of progressive educators in relation to this project: Alan’s with more of a gaze toward the iconic figures of this troubled past; Nancy’s with more of a look toward the considered understandings that some in our field have scrabbled together over the past several decades and now can or could offer, if only others could be persuaded to care.

Together these two pieces hold up a range of perspectives on one of the central storylines of the North American field, referencing important recent works such as Peter Taubman’s Teaching by numbers: Deconstructing the discourse of standards and accountability in education (Routledge, 2009) and Craig Kridel’s and Robert Bullough’s Stories of the Eight-Year Study: Reexamining secondary education in America (SUNY Press, 2007) along the way. We come here to deliberate upon such works together and to locate within them our colliding and interwoven pasts, presents, and futures.









Editor's Note