Joe Kincheloe's Critical Complex Epistemology/Pedagogy & Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage

Key Points of Kincheloe's Unified World View

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Key Points of Kincheloe's Unifying World View (excerpt from my dissertation, Chapter 2, pp. 108-111). 

Kincheloe presents a 12-point framework for his unifying worldview in his book, Critical Constructivism Primer. Because this worldview is new and has synthesized many theories that are essential to the application of the multidimensional critical complex bricolage, it is summarized in Table 1. Key Points of Kincheloe’s (2005b) Critical Constructivist Worldview and a brief discussion follows. This table was constructed, not to simplify a highly complex worldview, but rather to provide an advance organizer for the discussion that follows and for reading his book.


Table 1. Key Points of Kincheloe’s (2005b) Critical Constructivist Worldview










Ch. 1. From Constructivism to Critical Constructivism (pp.  1–40)



Point 1. Critical constructivism is grounded on the notion of constructivism. Constructivism asserts that nothing represents a neutral perspective – nothing exists before consciousness shapes it into something perceptible (p. 8).



Unified theories


Critical theory

A worldview


Introducing the Concept: What Are We Talking About?

Critical Hermeneutics



Point 2. Knowledge of the world is an interpretation produced by people who are a part of that world. Thus, understanding the nature of interpretation is a central feature of being an educated person (p. 17).



Bricolage/ multiple perspectives

Ethnography, Historicity, Social change, Dialectics, Semiotics


Critical Constructivism, Context and Complexity



Point 3. Interpretations cannot be separated from the interpreter’s location in the web of reality – one’s interpretive facility involves understanding how historical, social, cultural, economic, and political contexts construct our perspectives on the world, self and other (p. 24).



Complexity theory

Epistemology of complexity

Consciousness of Complexity



Constructing a Critical System of Meaning


Point 4. The “critical” in critical constructivism comes from critical theory and its concern with extending a human’s consciousness of herself as a social being – critical theory promotes self-reflection in relation to social power and its ability to align our self-perceptions and world views with the interests of power blocs (p. 33).



“Truth” is contingent

Liberation Theology


Ch. 2. Power & Knowledge Production; Critical Constructivist Pedagogical Purpose (pp. 4–80)



Point 5. The key elements of a rigorous education involve understanding how our consciousness is constructed, subjectivity shaped, and identity produced – here rests the theoretical key to critical constructivism: the role of power in these processes of self-production and, in turn, epistemology and knowledge production (p. 41).





Cognitive – Enactivism

Critical Ontology


Formulation of Educational Purpose


Point 6. In this context [as delineated above] critical constructivists begin to raise questions about these constructive processes and their relations to power and its influence on the pedagogical processes – informal cultural pedagogy and formal school pedagogy. Here questions of the purposes of schooling in a democratic society begin to emerge (p. 60).



Resists regulation


Knowledge Base is self-constructed









Table 1. Key Points of Kincheloe’s (2005b) Critical Constructivist Worldview (cont.)














Ch. 3. Epistemology, Ontology and Critical Constructivism’s Struggle Against Reductionism (pp.  81–118)


Point 7. Critical constructivism illustrates how Cartesian epistemology promotes the notion of the abstract individual – an independent agent free from the constructed influences of the social, political, cultural, economic, and historical dimensions of the world. The modernist European concept of self cannot withstand these insights. It is hard in this context to determine where the individual ends and the social begins (p. 81)


Awareness, Free from machine metaphors; Autopoiesis; Critical Ontology/Historiography;

Politics and Power;

Self-construct consciousness/New ways of being



Avoid Technicalization and Simplification


Point 8. Critical constructivists avoid reductionism and the naïve realism that accompanies it. Critical constructivist educators make sure that education does not serve as a force that indoctrinates and stupidifies rather than engages and enlightens (p. 102).


Overcome reductionism and fragmented curriculum


Ch. 4. Representing the World: Analyzing the Construction Zone (pp.  119–142)


Point 9. Critical constructivists assert that understanding the positioning of the researcher in the social web of reality is essential to the production of rigorous and textured knowledge. As long as researchers and consumers of knowledge do not understand where they themselves and other researchers stand in this social web, scholars will have a thin and distorted conception of the research process and the data it produces (p. 119).



Feminist theory

Poststructuralist Analysis

Exposure of Power (p. 121) to Construct Voice

We can remake ourselves (our consciousness)



The Construction Process: Discourse, Language, and Power


via the Power of Difference


Point 10. In the critical constructivist process of reconstructing the self, humans are ethically required to search in as many locations as possible for unique ideas, alternative discourses, new ways of thinking and being intelligent, and producing knowledge – the explosive power of difference (p. 124).


Discourse Analysis

Multiple generative narratives

Postcolonial discourses

The Middle Way/Enactivism

Wide applicability



Ch. 5. Blue Knowledge (pp.  143–170)

Discursive Analysis


Point 11. Critical constructivism works to expose elitist assumptions embedded in existing knowledge. Understanding that dominant power wielders have attempted to hegemonize individuals via the deployment of these knowledges in political, economic, social, cultural, epistemological and pedagogical structures, many will be uncomfortable with the exposé process..


Knowledge to change the world; Non-Western epistemologies

Knowledge is tentative, changing; Discourse and context central dimensions

(p. 143)


Social Theoretical Foundations



Point 12. Critical constructivists value subjugated knowledge. Utilizing the concept of the ‘blues idiom,’ we attempt to expand the concept of subjugated knowledge by drawing upon African American cultural knowledges. The result is a form of subjugated epistemology called blue knowledge (p. 161).


Includes previously excluded knowledge; Multilogical

Pattern-seeking midst chaos



The table highlights the extensive range of ideas Kincheloe was able to weave together into a strong, impenetrable foundation that grounds bricolage in order to come out of the process with new, sensible, powerful, love-based, actionable knowledge that honors everyone in a fair and just way.





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“As a child I wanted so desperately for magic to be real. I would work for hours collecting what I hoped were just the right combination of ingredients to make some type of magic potion that would provide me with special powers….I found such magic in words viewed in a postformal matrix and I observe and practice that magic everyday.” (Kincheloe, 2006, Reading, Writing, Thinking, p. 13)
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