Retrenchment, the supposed decline in enrollments, the increased use of adjuncts, the "new vocationalism," the impending closings of several public universities. It seems a strange time to launch a new magazine, especially one directed at and written by those who are most under attack: radical teachers. But in some ways it was this sense of crisis that caused the development of The Radical Teacher. Many of us felt that now was the most dangerous time to be passive toward such a crisis situation. What was called for was greater commitment than before and a greater sharing of those radical political energies that too often were being isolated within our individual schools. Perhaps we can offer no answer more specific than this when asked about our origins.
The Radical Teacher grows out of the dissatisfaction that many of us felt within our own organization, the Radical Caucus in English and the Modern Languages, a group that finds its origins in the New University Conference of the 60's. We became increasingly troubled with our inability to sustain any real sense of continuity after the decline of the antiwar movement. We were forced to question more closely the scope of our organization and the state of the profession. What was our role in relation to these areas?
Our first response was to express our purpose through the drafting of a statement of five principles on which the membership could agree. From this statement the magazine was formed. The magazine was in a sense a sixth principle, the most effective vehicle through which we could express the other five.
We call The Radical Teacher a "Newsjournal" to imply a flexibility expressing the need for both formal articles and yet also meeting the need for the greater immediacy of journalism and progress reports on teaching. What follows is our sense of the scope of this venture.
For many of us the critical focus of literary study and of our work as socialists is the classroom. We would ask how reading and discussing a text with a particular group of people promotes or hinders the development of a working-class movement. To answer such questions, we believe the tools, including the language, of socialist analysis, and tradition of Marxist, third-world and feminist criticism to be important. But the test is in practice, especially in the practice of teaching and learning. While this emphasis differs from that of traditional Marxist criticism, we would nevertheless like to restore greater unity...