on the subject

derek r. ford is an academic, teacher, artist, and organizer living in Syracuse, NY. He is a PhD candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University. He studies foundations of education, with a focus on the broad intersections of space, identity, political economy, architecture, and pedagogy. He currently teaches in the Social Justice Studies Program at Hobart & William Smith Colleges.

His dissertation, “A critical pedagogy of space: Policy, political economy, and pedagogy in urban schools,” examines the relationship between P-16 classrooms and schools, and struggles over the social production of space. The dissertation places critical pedagogy in conversation with critical geography and, building on the work of Henri Lefebvre, develops a critical pedagogy of space. This critical pedagogy looks at the school’s role in social and economic reproduction through an analysis of the built-environment of the city, examines the role of space in the educational relationship, and develops an educational framework of teaching, learning, and studying that is appropriate to the production of space in the classroom, school, and city. It also examines the relationship between knowledge and ineffability as it is expressed in urbanism and architecture. The primary significance of the dissertation is that it provides teachers, educational leaders, and policymakers with an overarching framework for understanding how the processes and structures that produce space relate to and are manifested in the classroom. It delineates specific pedagogical and policy implications that follow from this framework, including how the space of the school can be a tool for and a product of teaching and educational leadership.

Another research project examines the air conditions of education–such as the technologies and ideologies of air conditioning–and how these inform and express educational theories and architectures.

His research–and activism–is guided by historical materialism and extensively informed by post-structuralism, Marxism, and continental philosophy. He has published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Studies in Philosophy and Education, Educational Philosophy and Theory, Critical Studies in Education, Policy Futures in Education, and borderlands e-journal. He is co-chair of the Education Department at the Hampton Institute. His first book (co-authored with Curry Malott), titled Marx, capital, and education: Toward a critical pedagogy of becoming is forthcoming through Peter Lang. He is also a regular commentator on PressTV.