In my last post about Postmodernism I mentioned that it is not dead but very much alive. And in academia if you are trained to pick it up you will. So let me give you just a few examples from my first week back in university.
In my Teaching Writing class we started reading the first chapter of Second Language Writing by Ken Hyland. This is what Mr Hyland had to say:
So, while [English Language Teaching is] often treated as historically evolving movements (e.g., Raimes 1991), it would be wrong to see each theory growing out of and replacing the last. They are more accurately seen as as complementary and overlapping perspectives, representing potentially compatible means of understanding the complex reality of writing.
The “next replacing the last” is a dead give away of Modernist ideology. And anytime one thinks and believes that everything is complementary one is leaning towards Postmodernist ideas. Here is another example from a textbook on the history of English Language Teaching:
If we examine each of the [three language teaching] principles in turn, we can see how they generated unexpected consequences, some of which turned out to be more controversial than they seemed at first sight.
Here we see how wrong someone can be eventhough he or she was sure of their methodology. Actually this is somewhat like the statement in the first example where they believe it replaces what has come previously. This kind of thinking was typical of the early twentieth century. It is a firm believe – wrongly – in the idea of progress.
But even life is not a continual march toward some pinnicle, a straight line to the top. If life was that simple then we would be there by now. Or as the author John Barth put it: like an ox-cart driver in monsoon season or the skipper of a grounded ship, one must sometimes go forward by going back. Life is not a straight line. Even if it is windy it is not always mean we are getting closer. We must travel away from it sometimes to get close to it.
So Postmodernism may sound complicated in the end it really is not dissimiliar to “good ol’ fashion commonsense”. But don’t let a Postmodernist hear you say that. You would be accused of being Modernist.