My first full-time teaching job was as a sociology instructor at Career U. Unlike other career schools, this one actually gave me freedom to design my own Intro to Sociology courses—certainly not the norm at most career schools. I met some pretty cool students in those classes, and we did good work. My job helped to promote critical thinking among the students.
Hooray for me!
So this week’s class reading, Gayatri Spivak’s essay “Teaching for the Times,” was quite jarring. In this essay, Spivak writes:
Proctor and Gamble, a large U.S. multinational corporation, sends students specializing in business administration abroad to learn language and culture. Already in 1990, the National Governors’ Association report queried: “How are we to sell our products in a global economy when we are yet to learn the language of the customers” . . . We are caught in a larger struggle where one side devises newer ways to exploit transnationality through a distorting culturalism and the other knows rather what transnational script drives, writes, and operates it. [emphasis hers]
I’ve been reflecting on my role in this transnational script, on how the classes I taught over those past three years at Career U were actually in service of this “distorting culturalism.” How many students eventually went on to use their knowledge in service of the various Proctor and Gambles?
Towards making globalization palatable to people in the Third World, the very people who would also be made to shoulder the resulting devastation?
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