Assumption 2: Knowledge can Reduce Jobs. Scientific knowledge is used to create new technology such as computers driven machines. Every time we produce technology, energy is lost or pollution is created in the process, and a net loss of jobs may result. Technology accelerates the violent and perhaps nonsustainable conditions under assumption one. Shaiken (1980) states that the burgeoning influence of high technology not only threatens jobs in traditional areas, but also in areas that promised jobs for those displaced by the manufacturing sector. A net loss of jobs, due to capital-intensive technology, will definitely create more control over labor by management, as workers compete for scarce job opportunities. In addition, worker pension funds are often invested in technology that forces workers to the unemployment roles and then society turns around and blames them for not having a jobs. The production accelerated by technology increases violence to both the environment and people dismissed from jobs.
Assumption 3: Students can be Sources of Knowledge. Although students are seldom seen as valuable information sources, they nonetheless can be important sources of information. Class discussion, utilizing student resources, can be just as motivating as classroom lectures. Under the right pedagogical conditions students often feel empowered and education becomes a meaningful experience where students view themselves as resources and take initiative for much of their own learning. When students view themselves are resource and take initiative for their own learning, they not only liberate themselves from authority-dependent relations in the classroom, but they feel that they can make a difference in the world in which they live. In the SNRE, undergraduate students organized an ongoing environmental justice course where they teach themselves. This is perhaps the only course in the University where students teach each other.
Assumption 4: Traditional Teaching Fails to Liberate. Perhaps a heavy reliance upon lectures foster authority-dependent relations between students and faculty, thus creating asymmetrical relations and social distance. Students become peripheral spectators in a drama, where the teacher is actor (Palmer, 1983). Students are socialized to be passive-dependent as teachers deposit information in their mental receptacles (Freire, 1974). This authority-dependent relation fails to liberate or engage students in critical thinking which could empower them to take charge of their learning. In fact, authority-dependent relations from infancy to adulthood have become so ingrained in students that they often feel less educated unless lectured.
Assumption 5: The traditional lecture has real limits. It is assumed that lecture are the most efficient way of disseminating accumulated information, mainly because it has been done this way throughout the centuries, and because it is assumed that students will give most of their attention to the lecturer. However, current research clearly indicates that college students at best can only concentrate 15 minutes at a time (CRLT, 1978). This is not to say that lectures are unimportant, but that students might be better served if the 50 minute lecture formats were divided into two 15 minutes periods, each followed by discussion. Such a format would be more consistent with students' concentration stamina. Also, short discussion following the lecture allows students time to integrate the subject matter more fully.
Assumption 6: Often fragmented and specialized knowledge is generated not only for special interest groups, which fund a considerable amount of University research, but for professionals who jealously guard and monopolize scientific knowledge. As more and more specialized knowledge comes under the control of professionals, more and more decisions are lifted from the village square. Professional often feel they have the specialized knowledge to make the best possible decisions for people, thus usurping the democratic process. Decision- making power is taken away from people by turning knowledge into an abstraction. Specialized jargon found in professional journals exclude the general public and prevents them from making informed decisions. When people feel they no longer can participate in decisions that affect their lives, they often become alienated and disenfranchised. Because knowledge is specialized and fragmented, it helps create narrowly defined visions that may differ from macro or holistic perspectives of the world.
Picture Credit - Environmental Justice Resource Center