Stanley Aronowitz Henry Giroux

Routledge & Kegan Paul London

First published in 1986 by Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2003. First published as a paperback 1987 © 1985 Bergin & Garvey Publishers Inc. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in criticism. British Library CIP Date also available ISBN 0-203-22203-2 Master e-book ISBN

ISBN 0-203-27651-5 (Adobe eReader Format) ISBN 0-7102-1318-2 (Print Edition)

.This book is dedicated to Paulo Freire who is a living embodiment of the principle that underlies this work: that pedagogy should become more political and that the political should become more pedagogical.


Education and the Crisis in Public Philosophy 11. Neo-Conservative Ideology and the Crisis in Higher Education 9. Is Computer Technology the Answer? The Crisis in the Classroom and Educational Reform 10. Rethinking the Nature of Educational Reform 2.CONTENTS Preface Acknowledgments 1. Teaching and the Role of the Transformative Intellectual 3. Reproduction and Resistance in Radical Theories of Schooling 6. Schooling and the Future: Revitalizing Public Education Selected Bibliography Index ix xiii 1 23 47 57 69 115 139 163 185 199 209 221 227 . Radical Pedagogy and the Legacy of Marxist Discourse 7. Mass Culture and Critical Pedagogy 4. The Literacy Crisis: A Critique and Alternative 5. Curriculum Theory and the Language of Possibility 8.


The notion persisted that it was up to the individual to perform well in the classroom in order to achieve liberation from manual labor. more than other institutions. For most working people capital could not be accumulated through hard work after the 1880s when the frontier was closed forever. and continuity with. and although there existed a few sectors in which skilled workers owned small shops as well as engaged in wage labor. While many critics doubted the ability of schools to deliver on the promise of greater equality. and the few skilled workers who started small businesses that grew. Formal education simultaneously represented a departure from. teachers and others involved in public education enjoyed positions that offered trust. which by the turn of the century was the universal signifier of the promising student. most accepted the idea that you’ll never get rich through hard work. And. those who entered the underground economy of prostitution. even though few immigrant groups were enabled to rise from the ghettoes and slums by public education. Even as deep flaws appeared in our economy during the Great Depression when Americans deepened their suspicion of government and political leaders. Most of the farm land had already been tilled. ix . schools. the ability of even a small minority to do so provided an example for sustaining the dreams of millions who might never move up in the social structure. The avenues to small capital accumulation were best demonstrated by such groups as athletes who managed to prevent promoters and team owners from fleecing them. In failing to acquire school knowledge. As the twentieth century matured it became increasingly apparent that the schools. prestige. hope. drugs and other illegal trades. had become the wish mechanism for Americans: that more citizens placed hope for their children in them. few questioned that the American ideology of equal opportunity could be achieved. and that those who worked in schools were charged with the awesome task of fulfilling the American dream. the figure of the self-made man for the working class. kids condemned themselves to follow their parents into the mines and mills unless they could acquire economic capital. but instead prepared the most successful students for bureaucratic and professional labor. the giant corporations had displaced many smaller firms. School was not designed to foster entrepreneurship.PREFACE For most of the twentieth century American schools enjoyed a unique place in our political and cultural life.

Educational conservatives have echoed the demand that school knowledge be relevant to students’ lives. This book was born of our conviction that parents. many students and their parents buy into this idea because they have accepted the notion that the business of America is business. Conservatives and radicals alike have condemned public education from different sides. neoconservatism is grounded in the radical critiques of reform that prevailed in the sixties. We try to show in these pages that. but have drawn the same blood. By 1970 the economy slowed dramatically with the end of the Vietnam War. have abandoned the quest for a critical education in our schools. We have also discussed the conservative critique because this perspective does not disclaim the schools but proposes a much different program than that which informs the liberal policy. The past fifteen years of educational theory and review have been marked by a nearly universal criticism of the effectiveness of schools. Consequently. whose popularity has grown proportionately with the concept of “educator” as synonymous with “manager. and radicals are embroiled in what we call the language of critique since they have lost a sense of possibility. Lacking an alternative. those old liberals who have not accepted the partnership between business and education have been reduced to despair.” The penetration of business values into education today is so ubiquitous that many speak of the business school partnership without self-consciousness or embarrassment. students. and schools fell on hard times. schools retained their frontier aura. although valuable. Education Under Siege begins to explore some of the elements of an alternative vision for schools without claiming to have a recipe. Millions of discharged veterans chose to enter high schools and colleges in the hopes of realizing their dreams. In order to invent a language of possibility we have confronted liberal and radical critiques which. The once hovering figure of John Dewey has been pushed to the sidelines in educational ideology and replaced by new business heroes. But they wish to subordinate educational priorities to those of the corporate order on the grounds that this is the relevant social and economic effect of knowledge. and politically minded citizens need a new framework that can restore hope to education and schools. like most political discourse in the 1980s. the buoyant growth of all levels of educational institutions was sustained through the sixties. Because of the baby boom. Liberal optimism has disappeared from the public discourse on education since only a few unreconstructed historians such as Lawrence Cremin retain their faith in the old leveling model of the relation between schools and society. We are .x Education Under Siege During most of the period after the Second World War. Lee Iacocca being one. teachers.

white-collar factory is mistaken.Preface xi persuaded by many that the conservative vision of a school as a small. It is no wonder that educators and politicians complain incessantly about alienated youth. Their response to alienated youth is the tightening of their arbitrary authority as adults. are insufficiently socialized into the real world. or in the liberal discourse. are forced to live under conditions of unrelieved subordination. but the lived experience of empowerment for the vast majority. but want for themselves and their children schools that are. a set of formal rules of participation. We hope this book will make a modest contribution to redressing the balance. If one takes the view that schools are among our leading political and ideological institutions. The real audience for this book is all who have endured school. and is surely inimical to reproducing democratic values and institutions. . the kids. A school with time boundaries. laboratories of freedom. rules. But we refuse to confine our analysis to exposing the subordination of schools by political and business powers. it is a contradiction to envision a democratic society when its inheritors. in the words of John Dewey. As these words are being written the United States Supreme Court has granted teachers and administrators the right to search students when they have reason to believe school rules have been violated. Our research is necessary but insufficient work for those who would return schools to their primary task: places of critical education in the service of creating a public sphere of citizens who are able to exercize power over their own lives and especially over the conditions for knowledge acquisition. Democracy is not. and productivity norms corresponds not to our collective social needs but to the galloping tendency of our society towards privatization in the conduct of everyday life and in the appropriation of public resources. Youth have always suffered under their status as second-class citizens in industrial societies because most adults believe they are infected with the spirit of evil. for us at least.


we are solely responsible for the book in its final form. 1985. . An altered version of Chapter 2 was written for a colloquium at Suffolk University on “Creativity and the Implementation of Change: Liberal Learning in the Practical World. the two of us have been involved in a collaboration over the relationship between pedagogy and politics and the evolving vision of emancipatory and transformative education. In writing the book itself. We would also like to thank Dean Jan Kettlewell and Professor Nelda Cameron-McCabe of Miami University for the time. College English. We are grateful to Jan Fulton and Fran Shaloe for their patience and skill in typing much of this manuscript. For the past seven years. Issues in Education. again. and in other instances rewrote and edited work that we incorporated. Lindsay Fitzclarence. During that time. and professional encouragement they provided for Henry Giroux after his exodus from Boston University. and Richard Quantz for having read substantial sections of this book and for providing invaluable criticisms. Jeanne Brady Giroux. we jointly authored a number of chapters. Educational Theory.” February 20–21. Of course.Acknowledgments We would like to thank Ralph Page. Some of the chapters in this book appeared in slightly or substantially altered form in the following journals: Harvard Educational Review. support. It is an effort characterized by a warmly held friendship as well as a deeply shared belief in the need to struggle for a better world for all human beings. but. each chapter was the final product of an editing and writing process that allows us to view the book in its published form as a strictly collaborative effort. Thanks. New Education (Australia). in all cases. some of the articles in this book initially were written and published under separate authorship though they had almost always been mutually discussed and influenced by our joint work. Curriculum Inquiry. Journal of Education. to Rosa.




While many jobs require applicants to know how to read and write and 1 . Their arguments have force not only because conservatism has become dominant in the ideological realm.ONE Rethinking the Nature of Educational Reform AFTER NEARLY TWO decades of benign neglect. and whether the authoritarian classroom stifles the creativity of young children or. conservatives criticize the schools for failing to fulfill this function. they are happy to jettison the traditional liberal vision that schools must be responsible for transmitting western cultural and intellectual traditions. schools are once more the subject of an intense national debate. their analysis is by no means original or intellectually challenging. In the recent past. but they have been subsumed under a much larger question: how to make schools adequate to a changing economic. They have taken their cue from radical critics who claim that schooling is merely an adjunct to the labor market. However. All of these issues are still with us. at a time when nearly everyone is anxious about his/her place in a rapidly shifting job market. how permissiveness has resulted in a general lowering of educational achievement. a perception shared by most parents. conservatives have joined radical critics in announcing that the schools have failed to educate. secondly. discussion has centered on three issues: whether schools can be the central institution for achieving racial and sexual equality. relevance has come to mean little else than job preparation. teachers and administrators. the conservatives have seized the initiative and put liberals and progressives on the defensive. But. conversely. but because their critique seems to correspond to the actual situation. To be sure. they have coupled their point with a clear analysis of the causes and a program for curing the affliction. in higher education. political and ideological environment? As has been the case with most public issues in American society. Instead. whether the traditional liberal arts curricula are still “relevant” to a changing labor market. unlike the left. In the first place. With some exceptions. they have repeated the 1960s radical attack that schools are not relevant to students’ lives. And.

did most reformers ask the question about the external and internal orientation of school knowledge since they already assumed that curriculum should be articulated with the labor market. However. in their most traditional mode. The ascendancy of the conservative critique and program was prepared unintentionally by the success of the educational movements of the 1960s. Conservatives demand “excellence. they were somewhat less intractable than the economic behemoth. that because social welfare institutions were public. Those who concentrated on unions were interested in bringing minorities and women into the working class. These movements were aimed at both preparing black and other minority students for the job market and changing the relations of power within the schools by transferring curriculum determination and administrative authority. Their language of “achievement. grades and testing were scrapped by some elementary and secondary schools.” “excellence. largely correct. few employers require mastery or even familiarity with literary canon. much less a secure command of history and the social sciences. In the halcyon days of apparently unlimited expansion. in part.” “discipline” and “goal orientation” really means vocational education or. The widespread assumption among school critics was that their “levelling” function remained unfulfilled as long as minorities and women were excluded from the mobility routes that seemed to be available to white men.and face-oriented. The “levellers” tried to change the restrictive policies of unions and corporations as well as transform schools. In neither case. a return to the authoritarian classroom armed with the three Rs curriculum. the arts. more importantly. In the 1960s the traditional liberal arts curriculum was attacked for being culturally biased. and.2 Education Under Siege to possess skills for specialized employment.” by which they usually mean that schools should offer more rigorous science and math curriculum—a notion in keeping with the conservative idea that the mastery of techniques is equivalent to progress. from teachers and administrators to parents and students. Those who fought to make schools instruments of social and class mobility were fighting a different battle: they wanted the opportunity to become professionals and managers and believed that credentials were the most appropriate weapon. Since intelligence and achievement tests were based on knowledges that presupposed “middle class” culture. these reformers saw their task as accurate forecasting. were severely reduced as a measure of achievement. the fundamental impulse motivating education reform was how to help the excluded get a piece of the economic action. For the minority who . and music. even when these practices survived the reform onslaught. their focus on education was based on the perception. gender. Thus. except for the criticism of the school curricula as class-.

took care that open admissions would not mean weakening academic standards at Queens. the main issue was who could hire and fire the administrators and teachers. They made no profound critique of the existing curriculum. the new education debate has little to do with fulfilling the American dream of social equality. a sharp rise in college enrollments in vocational programs. more competitive environment. and the wholesale creation of an entirely new level of higher education. but also reinforced the hierarchical character of higher education. but. Among the most dramatic victories of the 1960s was “open admission” of minorities to colleges and universities. the second-tier public liberal arts colleges. As we will show in chapters eight and ten. In 1968. After a century of underground existence in economic doctrine recent neo-conservative wisdom has rediscovered labor. later president of the University of California at Berkeley. though. part of the productivity picture is ascribed to declining school effectiveness. Community control advocates assumed that if they had power over employment in the schools. Their major concern is the changing world economy and the new international division of labor. particularly in community colleges. On the other side. the rest would follow.Rethinking Educational Reform 3 cared about political power in schools. Supply side economics argues that government should get out of the way of investment by reducing taxes and thereby increasing business incentives to enlarge and modernize our decrepit productive plant. education conservatives advocate reducing federal aid to education in the form of categorical programs. the unions and liberal “politicos” came to a head in a teachers strike over whether and to what extent the “community” (read blacks and Puerto Ricans) should exercise power within the system. instead.e. the conflict between radical nationalists. and other top-level city colleges.. Schools. It did signify. Hunter. Industry has rediscovered education because it has lost its once secure markets.S. In turn. school authorities. But the Carnegie Foundation and other major institutional leaders in higher education made sure that open admissions did not jeopardize the elite schools. would require organizing new campuses as “open enrollment” institutions. i. manufacturing on lowered productivity in the new. are considered producers of human capital. The right of any high school graduate to attend postsecondary schools regardless of his/ her grades or test scores did not signify full democratization of higher education because reformers did not demand integration at all levels of the academic system. appropriately. justice is quite beside the point for the new conservative reformers. but . New York’s City University Chancellor William Bowker. just who would implement it. Supply side economics blames the relative decline of U. Open admissions meant a new era for those historically left out of college.

”2 What follows from these objectives are a dozen prescriptions that combine the neoconservative slogan to “get the federal government off the backs of the schools” with the demand that we “throw the special interests out of the schoolhouse. School conservatives have attributed the multiple sins of the schools to the education reforms of the 1960s.”3 Finn’s no frills educational program does indeed signify the kind of society and people the neo-conservatives want: workers who can willingly perform the specialized tasks required by an economy facing increased competition from abroad. this condition is due to the loss of power over curriculum and discipline by teachers and administrators. however abstractly valid. prevent schools from marshalling “enough resources to pay for solid instruction in the basics. as responses to the leaner economic environment.” by which he means any “greedy/single-minded group” such as the handicapped and linguistic minorities whose demands.1 Although Finn does not explicitly reject the goal of equality.” increased salaries for math and science teachers. the free choice of even poor students to attend nonpublic schools if they could receive vouchers from the government to pay for it. . Chester Finn. has succinctly stated the case: The sad fact is that for close to two decades now we have neglected educational quality in the name of equality. Trying to insure that every child would have access to as much education as every other child. we begin to find ourselves with very little substance needed. the productivity and competitiveness of our national economy” and “our sense of national security and national purpose. Finn enters the obligatory caveat for pluralism in education which means. These measures are needed to insure “the kind of society we want to inhabit. “Human capital” theorists articulate “back to basics. And. Hesitant to pass judgment on lifestyles. cultures and forms of behavior we have invited relativism into the curriculum and pedagogy. the kinds of people we want our children to become. his emphasis on “quality” is framed in the discourse of absolute standards which can constitute some kind of objective measure of individual and group progress. If students have failed to perform in the workplace as well as the classroom. Of course. among other things. of course.4 Education Under Siege have intensified their ideological intervention by insisting that schools upgrade themselves through changed curriculum and new management systems rather than massive financial inputs. Striving to avoid invidious comparisons among youngsters we have stopped gauging individual progress by testing…. and reducing the cultural and recreational curricula to a bare minimum. we have failed to attend to the content of that education. Seeking to mediate conflict and forestall controversy over the substance of education.

Finn wants no more of this “student-centered” curriculum in which courses are designed collaboratively by students and teachers rather than being left to administrators and teachers. Carnoy. at least for now. moreover. Students are prepared for subordination because they view themselves as possessors of “free will. as Bowles and Gintis. teenagers cannot be expected to know what’s good for them. it generally contributes in the long run to a form of school failure that is the mechanism through which the working class reproduces itself culturally. much less the majority of teachers. After all. against the liberal vision of schooling as a broad preparation for life. a measure of the degree to which they are wedded to the past. would be a grievous error. schools cannot truly serve workers and other subordinate groups because they are. As we shall show in chapter five. The neoconservatives’ strength lie in their bold invocation of morality in education. Finn’s rejection of educational relativism and his assertion (nowhere argued) that “standards” exist and are. parents and students have. school knowledge is instrumental for the reproduction of capitalist social relations. To those trained in the varieties of progressive education movements. including educational theory. According to left education theory. However.Rethinking Educational Reform 5 “basics” signify student subordination to school authority. left discourse demonstrates that schools are something other than transmitters of humanist values. the platonism inherent in this program will seem arcane and even ridiculous. to dismiss neo-conservatives as reactionary utopians or to discount their program as. radical critics remain mired in the language of critique even as its own constituency. Whitty. Willis. tired of this discourse. knowable. but also transmit the discourse of domination. Canadian and British education has accumulated evidence.4 However positive such resistance may be. Apple and many others have argued. Instead. The agony of Marxist and radical social theory. their hubris that declares they know what truth and the good life really are. from many angles. tests serve to blame the victim for school failure. those who leave school march out in rebellion against middle-class cultural capital and knowledge forms and thereby “condemn” themselves to working class existence. which are not confined to preparation for hierarchically arranged occupational and class structures. have the ring of falsehood for anyone aware of the chaotic state of our moral life.” As Willis shows. in any case. In contrast. According to left theory. is that its anti-reformist ethos prevents programmatic discourse within institutions. in the . The impressive corpus of radical and Marxist analysis of American. and their ability to speak the language of possibility even as they appropriate the left’s critique of contemporary schooling. as an effective means to reproduce the kind of society and individual consistent with western humanist traditions.

counterhegemonic moments within school knowledge from being asked. elements of existing school knowledges. parents. because it reproduces the ideology that in this society individuals possess not only rights. reproducers of the dominant relations of production. A second. Marxist education theorists have spent little time discovering the internal contradictions within prevailing school knowledge. explored as possibility. disruptions that could provide a basis for a real educational movement. such as school attendance. including their role as reproducers of prevailing social relations. the left regards school knowledge as an instance of bourgeois ideology. it appears to be devoid of possibility and often presents itself in scientific garb that. at a certain point. the chance for genuine education through schooling is virtually nil. Marxists take seriously Marx’s statement that the ruling ideas of any society are the ideas of the ruling class and that the task of the left is to demystify them through relentless critique. find the possibility of accumulating power within the schools. is entirely sympathetic to an economic interpretation of the function of schools. but also of the class that dominates it. and equally debilitating problem is the orthodox Marxist conception of ideology. but also equal opportunity to advance on the social ladder. Furthermore. Further. School knowledge is viewed negatively as an instrument of domination. Almost nowhere in marxist educational theory and critique can one find a discussion of counterhegemony as a category for enabling students. Marxist education theorists are constrained. a set of ideas and beliefs that distort social reality. perhaps unwittingly clerks not only of the state.6 Education Under Siege last instance (and increasingly in the first as well). that class analysis precludes reform and that the language of possibility must address only the project of global social transformation. school knowledge within capitalist society is an instrument of ruling class power. even disguises its ethical foundation. According to this view. For Marxism claims that history replaces ethics. ideology is a kind of false consciousness. if ever. The discourse of demystification prevents the question of internal. which it shares with many radical populists. Instead. and teachers to wage political struggle within schools. by definition. Thus. Lacking an immediate prospect for the latter. the left ignores the degree to which popular forces might appropriate the democratic ideology of schools. since left morality prevents a serious consideration of alternatives under nonrevolutionary circumstances. and on the basis of these. the left has . therefore. Marxism has found its critique and even its language appropriated by the right which. the power/knowledge antinomy is rarely. as we have argued. In turn. to shut up. Consequently. That is. Ideas such as freedom and equality are far from the objectives of school authorities who are. given the structural limits imposed by bourgeois hegemony.

into a hybrid discourse of liberal reform which dominated our schools since the turn of the century. the radical reformers were prey to the charge that they had betrayed the interests of the poor and minorities who desperately needed to learn how to read. Moreover. in its latter incarnation. Before suggesting some paths out of the dead end that currently afflicts left educational theory. parents and the community. we distance ourselves from their refusal to grapple with the specific intellectual and political issues entailed by the reproduction and dissemination of school knowledge and social practices. particularly their program to empower students. we want to make a distinction between the progressive education movement as it evolved in the early decades of the century. piecemeal. Thus. reemerged later in the 1960s. We will argue that far from constituting a linchpin of bourgeois mystification. what possible perspectives for political struggle are there within the education sector? What are the points of intervention of a putative social movement aimed at countering neo-conservative hegemony? Unless we posit the existence of internal contradictions and a positive relationship of knowledge and power rather than posing them as antinomies. we must return to the original culprit against which both radicals and conservatives have inveighed—liberal humanism. To begin with. for all practical purposes. governance and finances are. This ideology constituted merely the mirror image of the cognitive orientation of school officials which prescribed a set of learnings prior to any possible experience. progressive education—the core American doctrine of liberal educational humanism—contains a language of possibility for fruitful intervention into contemporary educational battles. The movement is now eighty years old and has had several incarnations. For if school knowledge. We want to make clear that while recognizing the achievement of radical school movements. Rugg. Each successive resuscitation of radical school reform has added new dimensions to the . because it poses the relationship of power and knowledge in a positive as well as critical way. It is hard to imagine how far we have come from the philosophy and program of early progressive education theorists.Rethinking Educational Reform 7 worked itself into a theoretical cul de sac. and the ideas of its leading theorists John Dewey and the Columbia School (Kirkpatrick. radical school reform of the 1960s adopted an anti-intellectual stance that helped prepare the victory of the right. theory remains abstract and critique sterile. Hook and Mike Hohn). The movement never achieved hegemony within school ideology but was appropriated. subsumed under the capitalist state and the state is an instrument for ruling class domination. write and calculate. They surrendered the concept of systematic knowledge acquisition and uncritically privileged an antiintellectual concept of student experience.

he wanted to stress the active side. Consequently. for habit assumes the likeness of the new situation with the old. which forms a predisposition to easier and more effective action in a like direction in the future. it often leads astray. It affords an avenue of approach to knowledge of the place farming and horticulture have had in the history of the race and which they occupy in present social organization. of the mechanic will desert him when something unexpected occurs in the running of the machine.5 For Dewey. knowledge is a perception of those connections of an object which determine its applicability in a given situation. for novelty. just as skill based on habit alone. The child must understand the consequences of what has been undergone for reflective experience to come into play. such as when a child puts her hand in a flame. for example. Work and play make concrete the social and cognitive function of theoretical knowledge. and are the means by which the student achieves control. Thus. the point of occupationally and recreationally based education was not to prepare students for jobs. they are means for making a study of the facts of growth. the chemistry of soil. a passive object of education.6 . Instead. or comes between a person and the successful performance of his task. or as an agreeable way of passing time. When Dewey places experience at the center of the educational process. the role of light. Experience was not merely the undergoing of a particular event.8 Education Under Siege ideology. Dewey’s claim was that transmitting theory apart from practice reduced the student to that side of experience he called “undergoing. Prevision of change is not part of its scope. Contrary to many of his followers. He held to Jefferson’s belief that an informed citizenry was the best assurance that democracy would not degenerate into dictatorship or authoritarian regimes. but lost some too. But a man who understands the machine is the man who knows what he is about…. air and moisture…. Here Dewey makes a distinction between habit and knowledge: Habit means that an individual undergoes a modification through an experience. need not be taught for the sake of preparing future gardeners. but for the broad requirements of citizenship in a democratic society. the aim of education is to help the student gain conscious direction and control of the learning process. Carried on in an environment educationally controlled. it also has the function of making one experience available to subsequent experiences…. For Dewey. In other words. The 1960s demand for relevance in school curriculum appropriated John Dewey’s philosophy of experience in such manner as to misconstrue and even discredit his arguments. “learning by doing” did not signify a devaluation of theoretical knowledge in favor of the practical. his view was not to adjust school knowledge to the vicissitudes of the labor market: Gardening. But habit apart from knowledge does not make allowance for change of conditions.” that is.

As a result. knowledge is prospective if it permits us to “experience a meaning” in situations. As we detail in chapters five and six. Dewey’s best ideas are all but lost to American educational practice. to program students in a certain direction so that they will behave in set ways. and (2) it also increases the meaning. according to Dewey. schooling and education so that learning can take place both within and outside the school walls. the left argues that schools habituate individuals to . Yet he does not come to grips with the concrete obstacles to his objective of linking knowledge and power. by which he means enlarging the student’s capacity to control his own social destiny by consciously shaping experience. the experienced significance attached to an experience. democratic and critical learning modes. He wants to break down the conventional separation of theory and practice. Although he has a clear idea of what schools ought to be. the program of neoconservative school theorists is to introduce habit into the curriculum. We may fault Dewey for not bringing his theory of education into the context of problems of state and institutional life. Self-knowledge is seen as the key to one’s knowledge of the world. Thus. in effect a small society in which “intercourse. Humanists and progressives have been discursively defeated by both orthodox left and conservative critics who have labelled these ideas either as bad ideology or destructive utopian fantasies. They have concluded that.”7 Rather. is: (1) increased power of control. He argues that schools should be a community. Radical theorists have generally ignored Dewey because of his lack of sociological and political insight. with “knowing” what we are about and being able to make connections between our formal knowledge and the changed conditions under which activity takes place.” Here Dewey wants to avoid “merely reacting physically to new circumstances. and specifically. responding to predetermined situations. under capitalism. so defined as making available to the individual “former experiences for subsequent ones. even if we have not succeeded in enlarging our control over it. which begins. There is no mental reward in such responses. communication and cooperation” take place. Neo-conservatives have renounced the critical intent of education. he carefully avoids making a social and political analysis of what schools actually are. Thus. schools could never fulfill the goal of social empowerment. The object of theoretical knowledge.Rethinking Educational Reform 9 As we argue in the last section of this book. Dewey’s philosophy of education is to direct schools to devise curricula that orient around critical thinking. to the ability to connect contemporary experience to the received information that others have gained through their generalized experience which he calls theory. implicit in Dewey’s philosophy is the notion of schools as vessels waiting to be filled with enlightened.

distinguishes between specific school knowledge and knowledge acquired in the ensemble of social life. In the first place.” Gramsci’s concept of the two stages of schooling culminates in the “creative” school where “learning takes place especially through a spontaneous and autonomous effort of the pupil. the insurrectionary seizure of state power by a radicalized working class and peasantry. For Gramsci. Although he favors vocational and specialized education directed to specific career goals. “Every relationship of ‘hegemony’ is necessarily an educational relationship. unlike orthodox Marxists. is to create—even if the truth is an old one.10 Education Under Siege the real world of domination while the right argues that the ideology of student-centered education has destroyed the ability of schools to help the economy as well as its workers to survive and perform in an everchanging market economy. little of which stems from contemporary American sources. Having experienced . his prescriptive discussion of school knowledge draws strikingly similar conclusions with those of Dewey. Nevertheless.” by which he means everyday or private life as distinct from either economic or political life. To discover a truth oneself. In order to receive the active or passive assent of the general population. For example. Gramsci’s idea of the secondary school corresponds to an institution that not only instructs pupils in “dead” knowledge (although he makes an eloquent case for this kind of learning) and prepares them for the world of work. e.” writes Gramsci. he separates habitual from critical knowledge.. with the teacher only exercising a function of friendly guide…. It can be shown that Dewey’s educational thought closely approximates the best of Marxist and radical education theory. dominant classes and ruling groups must generate a “common sense” that is broadly disseminated in what Gramsci calls “civil society.”8 Gramsci’s Marxism did not prevent him from undertaking prescriptive work even under conditions of fascist Italy and while in prison. The reason Gramsci entered into the discourse of institutional reform was based on his theory of hegemony as education. the revolution did not consist in some kind of big bang theory. he relegates habitual knowledge to the early years of the common school. and thereby broadens the concept of education from its narrow bureaucratic construction as merely instruction. The originality of his Marxism consists in this—that he was capable of speaking the language of possibility even under the most objectively onerous circumstances. like Dewey.g. but also develops in them “the element of independent responsibility. Gramsci. Because of the need to inculcate study discipline in children. we may compare Dewey’s work with the education writings of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. without external suggestions or assistance. nations. The failure of the progressive humanists was not the inadequacy of their ideas.

bringing students to the threshold of the world of work with a broadly based education in both aspects of school knowledge. morality and truth. Gramsci’s concept of education presupposes the reality of Italian capitalism in the 1930s: industrially incomplete with a weak professional and technical cadre. He rejects the traditional vocational school because it “tends to perpetuate traditional social differences. the task before left educators was to appropriate critically those best features of traditional educational practice.9 Gramsci wanted to find a “school form” that would enable children of the “subaltern” classes to achieve not only what ruling class students learned in earlier times. able to gain meaning from their experience. gaping regions of underdevelopment and a relatively weak national identity. Thus. experiences. Gramsci believed the left could not contest merely the political and state sphere or remain locked in factory struggles as it had previously.Rethinking Educational Reform 11 both the abortive radicalization of the Italian workers immediately following the First World War and the painful course of the Bolshevik revolution. For him.” just as Dewey was opposed to schools that “try to educate individuals with an eye to only one line of activity. Gramsci understood the necessity of making the political more pedagogical. but also to appropriate critically the best dimensions of their own histories. that form would be an institution that breaks down the wall between vocational and academic education. morality and law as well as struggled over their immediate and antagonistic interests. including . and culture. which constituted the pedagogy of the ruling and “mandarin” classes. Although Gramsci was pessimistic about the chances of maintaining Latin and Greek as centerpieces of the elementary and secondary school curricula.” the entire philosophical and logical basis of western thought and civilization and to inculcate the habit of scholarship among ordinary people. religious sphere (the so-called superstructural relations) where humans live by ingrained concepts of justice. Yet. we may expect him to have a different idea of the need for vocational education than his counterparts in more developed societies. his concern for the free development of independent and critical individuals. His program was tantamount to what became known in the 1960s as the long march through institutions: to contest the moral and intellectual leadership of society by entering the public sphere of both institutional and political life where people debated their “truths” about education. he came to understand the crucial importance of those aspects of the social sphere called civil society—the ideological. for him. he was concerned to find the moral and intellectual equivalent provided to the elites’ children: “to understand the historical movement of the whole language.” Although Dewey was fairly blind to class analysis. Put another way. cultural.

worse. Of course. by the vast majority. But the penchant of radical and humanist thinkers to ignore his contribution or. and not as topto-down instruction between the teacher and student. Freire’s reflexive concept of knowledge is compatible with Dewey’s notion that experience is not reactive but a creative and meaningful relationship between the individual and her historical and contemporary situation where changed circumstances produce new and transformed knowledges. but the foundation is the history. the dialectic between education as the transmission of cultural values and knowledge and the new knowledge produced by the creative acts of the people themselves is the guiding educational principle. Freire inserts education directly into the political sphere by arguing that education represents both a struggle for meaning and a struggle over power relations. of past knowledge as well as knowledge of one’s own creative powers. Their objective is not to empower the individual to take a secure place within democratic society as Dewey seems to hold. education becomes a central terrain where power and politics operate out of a dialectical relation between individuals and groups who live out their lives within specific historical conditions and structural constraints as well as within cultural forms and ideologies that are the basis for contradictions and struggles. is informed by the profound pessimism to which critical educational scholarship has descended. 10 His overriding goal of empowerment for oppressed Brasilian peasants entailed distinct but closely related steps: the validation of the “voices” of people who are traditionally deprived of legitimate participation in political as well as civil society. utopian.. Working under radically different circumstances. Freire’s pedagogy is dialogic: learning occurs within conversation. political and cultural change in which relations of power are transformed. Similarly. Gramsci and Freire formed their educational theory in the framework of a historical and social understanding of the collective fates of classes within modern society. Thus. experience. Yet. We are not claiming that Dewey is a revolutionary thinker in the socialist or Marxist sense. Education becomes a radical project for economic. In all three positions. reactionary. etc. Thus. We invent a . and culture of the learner herself. to dismiss his work as idealist.12 Education Under Siege educational experiences. but to transform society itself to meet the collective needs of individuals. Paulo Freire drew conclusions that are by no means far from the educational philosophies of Dewey and Gramsci. what unites these writers is their understanding that the core of popular democratic power resides in the appropriation. forced him to oppose the dominant tendency of his time. Dewey’s still unrefined idea of communication and cooperation in schools is made into a detailed method.

Here we might draw a contrast between the Frankfurt School whose fate in prewar Germany was sealed by the rise of Nazism. since the early 1970s have become unfavorable to such proposals.11 Lacking a practice with which to oppose this development. Thus. History played a cruel trick on the Frankfurt self-image of towering loneliness. the language of critique turns in on itself and loses its emancipatory character when political imagination has disappeared. The leading figures of the Frankfurt School draw the rational conclusion that all “positive” discourse had been foreclosed by fascism. on the one hand. the failure of the theorist to find a field to “test” such proposals simply strengthens the hegemony of conservatives who today have the field to themselves. by necessity as well as their ideological proclivities. They insisted that the absolutist state. Epistemologically. For a brief instant. to engage in the debate. became instant “organic” intellectuals to a youth and student movement that became visible and sometimes powerful in all western democracies. reason. On the other hand. the Frankfurt School gloried in its marginality and tended to elevate intellectual work and art to the status of subversive activity. and went further to assert that the language of possibility within the framework of repressive societies was a kind of crackpot positivism which could do nothing but strengthen the existing regimes. dangerous at worst. the command economy and cultural “barbarism” characteristic of fascist regimes were all prepared by the one-dimensional thought modes of advanced industrial societies in which technological domination prevailed. whose existence became more precarious with each passing consumerist fad. They were upholding that rare commodity. and Gramsci and Freire on the other. admittedly. particularly the elevation of the domination of nature and of humans to the status of a new quasi-religious creed. the famous society of total administration disaggregated in the 1960s and Marcuse and Adorno. . constituted the heart of theory. The Frankfurt School was always too realistic to imagine that its theoretical and critical works were engaged in some kind of struggle for hegemony: to them such illusions were immature at best. in their view. The theorist becomes overwhelmed by the immediate circumstances which. the task of theory was to deconstruct the link between liberalism and fascism.Rethinking Educational Reform 13 language of possibility that proposes extensive philosophic and programmatic changes in education only if we can imagine a public sphere within which alternatives are seriously considered. Part of the job is to establish links with parents. The Frankfurt School justly objected to the tendency of nearly all other Marxists to make a radical break between fascism and liberal capitalism. students and progressive teachers who are obliged. if not the others. Their critique. which stemmed from a close reading of the darker side of the enlightenment.

Ideas such as grassroots democracy to replace the oppressive structures of representative government. For. Its most ubiquitous current form is the so-called computer revolution. in some places. some of their readers began to question the efficacy of scientific rationality that subordinated all environmental consequences of technology to profit and consumption. the Frankfurt School denied the possibility of genuine politics in technological societies. the postsixties years have been marked by a resurgence of the technological rationality that Marcuse feared. even if something short of hegemony in the Gramscian sense. C. has now been elevated to a savior. Technological domination was not complete. the computer has been touted as the solution to (almost) all of our economic problems. Gramsci and Freire are intellectuals who made the political more pedagogical. the Frankfurt School’s knowlege was linked with oppositional power. While no set of ideas can be traced to the work of intellectuals exclusively. Its work in all countries might well be described as pedagogical. insofar as they played an important role in transforming the experience and the power of an entire generation of youth. and at times its critique of the cultural forms of capitalism reached deeply into other social classes and strata. in limited spheres. a way of life for millions of . In short. the critique of consumer society.Wright Mills and a few others. the demands for community control and individual freedom in major institutions such as schools became commonplace public issues. Still. When they attacked the domination of nature as a mask for human domination.12 Although its weight in the political institutions was always problematic. while Dewey. it had come to power. Since the energy crisis reminded Americans of their economic vulnerability. Adorno and Horkheimer never acknowledged that their own critique contained a hidden discourse of possibility. Marcuse’s darkest prognostications cannot be so easily dismissed. a perception strengthened by the economic decline of the early 1980s. even though feminism.14 Education Under Siege Along with Henri Lefebvre. ecological movements. the new left succeeded in exerting considerable influence among intellectuals. resistance and imagination were still possible and. the embodiment of technologically based culture. once used exclusively for payrolls and as a tool for storing information. the Frankfurt School’s influence proved exactly the opposite of what their critical theory had suggested. yet each has contributed to engendering the language of possibility in the late twentieth century. the peace and black movements serve to remind us of the ineluctability of oppositional politics. This wonderous machine. others interpreted the normal processes of bureaucratic institutions as assaults on individuality and freedom and proceeded to organize popular movements for civil rights and against the apparently unstoppable war machine.

13 Drawing on the results of the industrial revolution. the computer facilitates centralization of control over the workplace. or may not be located in large cities. or in suburbs far from control centers which may. as ideological. But information. important for our discussion. Computers have mediated work. The pervasiveness of computer technology has evoked two distinct and contradictory responses. Writers. subject to radical decentralization of execution while facilitating centralized control. elements of economic and social domination because. researchers and kids who play games with them have taken computers into the home. although it can aid in the production of things. Noble’s new luddism despairs that workers could gain a measure of freedom from onerous. It embodies. like Marcuse. the computer is value-laden. conservatives and others to establish technocratic rationality as the basis for all school knowledge. Noble sees computers as merely the latest stage of capital’s offensive against labor.Rethinking Educational Reform 15 Americans. Braverman and Noble regard rationalization. For us. Our call for the pedagogical to become more political gains reactionary expression in the almost strident call of liberals. a means to subordinate workers by both degrading their labor and eliminating them from the workplace. leisure and virtually all communications—and in this sense have become a form of culture. For some. boring labor through the technology of the computer. they have replaced television as the constant companion that has been missing since personal interaction went the way of the horse and buggy. The warp and woof of computerization is that information has become the foundation of production and administration. Further. also replaces corporeal objects and makes many industrial functions. seem destined to follow the typewriter and the belt-driven lathe into the museum. the division of labor according to productivity norms. computer-aided education. or in rural communities. 14 Far from being a “tool” of a neutral production process. once anchored in geographic space and a large quantity of living labor. The traditional basis of workers’ power. Harry Braverman. We do not mean to dismiss scientific culture and technocratic rationality as much as to subject it to the dialectical interrogation it deserves. the factory and the industrial center of which it was a part. manufacturing and. the rise of scientific culture finds its most ambiguous expression in the rise of computer technology. Machine operators. designers as well as data processors can work from their own homes. technology embodies social relations. There is no question of resituating the computer in a democratic workplace where workers . for Noble. Critics such as David Noble regard computerization of the workplace as a political as well as economic arm of capitalism. that is. For Noble as well as his progenitor. The computer’s functions have been dramatically expanded to include industrial design.

But Edmund Sullivan’s critique of this perspective is worth reviewing because he regards Papert as an advocate. They view the machine as the reified form of social relations of domination. acquire a sense of mastery of the external world. and most important of all.16 Education Under Siege participate in decision-making. the concrete to the abstract. for these advocates the computer is viewed as the latest step in our progressive domination of nature which follows from the unleashing of rational thought from mystical constraints. and quality to quantity.15 The underlying presupposition of the computer’s fervent advocates is that science and technology.17 He sees the computer as an instrument for these ends precisely because it embodies nothing other than the intentions of its user. the computer represents the apogee of this development because it reduces things to processes. but its value depends on the “human intentions” that guide their use. Thus.18 Sullivan believes the computer has both positive and negative features. even when celebrants declare the computer to be nothing more than a tool wielded for human purposes and subject only to the constraints of manmade social context. but his objection is not made from the standpoint of those for whom computers are inimical to social freedom. Papert is a humanist for whom education is a way to empowerment through knowledge.16 Papert has invented a new computer language called Logo in order to assist students to learn mathematics and science. especially a significant machine of our industrial and commercial system. and concomitantly. Students could master a new language. learn elementary logical processes. one of the crucial moments in disenchantment. this neutralization of technology reveals complete support for the scientific ideology of objectivity through experimental method and value-free research. And. computer scientist Seymour Papert wants to harness this tool to help solve the education crisis. Papert’s book is interesting not only because it tries to devise a . Consequently. they find the key to understanding the modern world in Marx’s analysis of the transformation of value into exchange values through the permutations of the commodity form. especially the formation of industrial and state bureaucracies. constitute the basis of unshackling humans from the religious world view. The most sophisticated critics of contemporary technology are merely extending Marx and Weber’s critique of capitalist rationality to processes of production and administration. Although mostly unstated. Like Georg Lukacs. following Marcuse’s critique of technological thought. Weber’s argument that our epoch is marked by the disenchantment of the world through administration. and its accompanying rationality. Unlike those like Herbert Simon for whom humans are merely ants with information-processing apparati.

it does not even satisfy the cognitive requirements. It is.Rethinking Educational Reform 17 program for computer-aided instruction. particularly activities such as judgment and value. Sullivan’s and Papert’s return to experimentalism is a breath of fresh air in an educational environment suffused with conformity. artificial intelligence does not give us the opportunity to transfer mental processes. Hence. . consistent with scientific culture of which we are the heirs. Learning is neither a purely cognitive act. nor a private one.19 Sullivan concludes that Papert’s mind/body split—his reliance on a purely cognitive model of learning— results in distorting the education objectives he so fervently desires. particularly teachers. Moreover.” removing the child from the competitive environment of schools that has suppressed learning by subordinating the child to grades and the approval of elders. of course. At the same time. Papert’s vision of private interaction between the learner and her machine may be attractive to those who are repelled by the authoritarianism of the classroom. As Joseph Weizenbaum has argued. Sullivan agrees that Papert’s “systematic use of error” to enhance education “has revolutionary import for contemporary education” since most schools discourage error. Sullivan goes on to review the split-brain literature with a view to correcting Papert’s rationalism by pointing out that the affective side (the left side of the brain) remains underdeveloped in all computer-aided educational models. is subordinate to human mastery). it cannot provide the moral side of sociability. but for Sullivan this view suffers from an essential flaw. Sullivan insists that machines cannot truly replicate the I-Thou interactive relation between two or more persons since it is not genuinely other by Papert’s own admission (the machine.” Second. but also because it adopts a strategy that enables the child to program the computer and consequently acquire a sense of mastery as well as intellectual adventure.” his position is to place the child at the center of the process. he sees the computer as a part of culture and not merely a tool. At the same time Sullivan is justly critical of Papert’s reliance on Piagetian psychology and epistemology because Papert places this perspective within the framework of artificial intelligence. But Sullivan faults Papert’s conception that the computer enables education to become a “private act. Moreover. fear and hierarchy. for Papert. because human interaction is really two-way communication and person-machine interaction is not. Sullivan praises this goal and other aspects of Papert’s viewpoint. to machines. Far from “programming the child to work with computers. Sullivan approves of the use of computer-based learning for the limited purposes of helping the child to understand that “knowledge is a system” which is ordered according to abstract logical principles and is “not arbitrary.

It corresponded to the fallacy of all analogical thinking of the period that derived its world view from Newtonian physics and Cartesian metaphysics. While it may be that the creative and analytic aspects of the brain can be located physically in different sides. The imaginary is the foundation of play. Now. The relationship between education as socialization. which is directed towards suppressing the imaginary. we object to the use of a biological metaphor to refute the abstract—cognitive orientation of artificial intelligence and other computer-mediated theories of human interaction and intelligence. Play can be understood as the interaction of two imaginaries. In effect. especially among children where the activity itself is directed to creating not only the social self. But. he has succeeded in reproducing the dichotomous existence of the two modes of learning. particularly quantitative abstraction. For it is not only that we make the world according to the limits placed on our action by prior conditions (Marx). One need not resort to theories of human nature to argue that the brain is not a machine. We are not only needy organisms. And desire cannot be limited to goal-oriented behavior directed at achieving ends that are dictated by our social/biological “needs. by using split-brain research. but desiring ones as well. a device for showing that the brain is not a computer but is also endowed with artistic features that should not be subject to rationalization.” We learn as much by assimilating the world to the dictates of the sphere we call “imaginary” (which cannot always be adjusted to practical tasks) as we do in the socalled socialization process. one that is increasingly technologically directed. the split-brain is a heurism. it is the way we make a new world as well as achieve selfhood.20 We do not need “scientific” support to see that these mechanistic views of the world ignored the “active” side of human understanding— production. humans were endowed biologically with cognitive capacities that were abetted or retarded by the socialization processes.F. intentionality. and . for Sullivan. Rather we approach this question in an historical framework: the doctrine of “man the machine” is deeply rooted in pre-Freudian psychology and French materialism of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.Skinner and organizational and information theorists from Shannon to Simon. In the twentieth century. According to this doctrine. By imaginary we mean the proclivities towards creating an alternative world. not representing that which is. social interaction. but education as opposed to training is the process by which we assimilate our environment in relation to our desires. but also a self that “goes beyond” the givens of existing social structures. biologism was the other side of environmentalism.18 Education Under Siege Sullivan argues for a dialectical approach to the learning process in which the cognitive and the creative sides are accorded equal weight. these views have been echoed in the behaviorisms of B. interpretation.

far from being saviors of our distressed public sphere. On the other hand. and the loss of civic courage that accompanies it. cannot be created unless learning itself is a democratic process. Yet. a concept that corresponds to the way many advocates of public schools at the turn of the century understood them.Rethinking Educational Reform 19 learning as a means by which the imaginary takes command over the ego is inevitable in any society that wishes to insure the adaptation of its young to prevailing norms. who as . some of what follows suggests a different way to think about schooling and education. one steeped in a vision which chooses life and offers constructive alternatives. science and technology. Suffice to remark here that we firmly reject the notion that computers or any other machine address the crisis in education. the repressive character of social relations. It means moving beyond analyses of the ideological and material conditions of public schooling to the language of possibility. While we do not offer here an algorithm for achieving this end. Schools as a democratic public sphere. We agree with the critics of scientific and technological culture insofar as we are persuaded that machines are by no means separate from ideology.” which capitalism transforms into a machine. This struggle has been theorized in various ways: Reich posited liberated sexuality as the subversive element in repressive society. Habermas speaks the utopian language of undistorted communication. In this case. Here we only wish to emphasize the point that educational alternatives require more than tools of administration. Secondly. have been subordinated to the interests of domination. we move to the terrain of hope and agency. The point of technological domination is to make the imaginary into an instrument of the prevailing order. along with the surplus that remains unharnessed by the environment. Deleuze and Guattari have called this “desire. Social relations constitute the invisible content of many things including science. rethinking the purpose of education also means reformulating the social and ideological role of educators. This means acknowledging both the importance as well as the limits of the language of critique. but retains a rationalistic framework within which more perfect interaction may take place. the desiring machine. We believe that educators at all levels of schooling have to be seen as intellectuals. Among the first steps is to specify what we as a community want education to be. responsible either for historical progress (whatever that may be) or our present malaise. We do not hold that machines are. to the sphere of struggle and action. they do embody social relations. with Sullivan only the most backward looking position could maintain that scientific and technological developments are unmixed evils.21 This is not the place to enter the important debate about alternative theoretical formulations to the instrumentalization of everyday life. themselves.

We also want to illuminate the way in which teaching as a labor process has been governed by a notion of industrial ideology that separates conception from execution. To these educators. perform a pedagogical function that is eminently political in nature. . and the political role it does and can serve. then surely we cannot accept either the near hysterical description of education as providing human capital to commerce or socialization models that speak to the limited task of transmitting dominant culture to succeeding generations. we want to expand the theoretical insights provided by Freire and Gramsci on the role of the intellectual in modern society and. We make a detailed attempt at this task in chapter two. students and citizens we address ourselves. it is imperative to understand the contradictory roles that educators occupy within the various levels of schooling. If we want a creative citizenry that is capable of constituting itself as a democratic public sphere. of the role of educators in public schools and in higher education.20 Education Under Siege mediators. and refrain from finding techniques to displace it by fear to the prevailing order. There are political and cultural limits to such aspirations. parents. specifically. legitimators. By viewing educators as intellectuals. we want to offer a set of categories that will allow for a better understanding of intellectual work. If we are to fight for schools as democratic spheres. we do not expect this hope to become a majority movement in the near future. the preconditions for its existence. if we are going to face the task of developing the ideological and material conditions from which radical educators can rethink the project of schooling and human emancipation. then curriculum and school organizations must address the imaginary. and producers of ideas and social practices. But this book may stimulate some who would organize a social movement in schools and outside them to restore education to an honorable and autonomous place in our culture. In effect. Clearly. It is also important to understand who educators are for building alliances and who we have to attack and oppose on all fronts. We want to transform that model of the labor process and redefine the nature of intellectual work in schools so as to join conception and execution. Of course.

. also see The Politics of Education (South Hadley. David Noble. Ibid. Antonio Gramsci. 1964). 10. 2. 1959).. Anti Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (New York: Viking Press. Paul Willis. and trans. Democracy and Education (New York: Free Press.Knopf. 17. Learning to Labor (New York: Columbia University Press. p. 18. Henri Lefebvre. H. Quinten Hoare and Geoffrey Smith (New York: International Publishers. Selections From Prison Notebooks.: University of Illinois.: MIT Press. Paulo Friere. 1973). 1982). Communication and the Evolution of Society.. George Lukacs. 13.: MIT Press. “A Call for Quality Education.. pp.” American Education (January–February. Mathematical Theory of Communication (Urbana.Simon. Unpublished paper. Freeman Co.: Bergin and Garvey. Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Seabury Press. 1974). Mass. “Computers. Seymour Papert. 1968). 5. Lee Baxandall (New York: Vintage Books. Edmund Sullivan.F. Labor and Monopoly Capital (New York: Monthly Review Press. 19.Skinner. Ibid. John Dewey. 21. C. The Sociological Imagination (London: Oxford University Press. Basic Books. 1977). Everyday Life in the Modern World (New York: Harper and Row Publishers. Ibid. by Thomas McCarthy (Boston: Beacon Press. Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. 1974). 20. 1971). 1984.A. 1972). History and Class Consciousness (Cambridge. p. 339–340. 6.. 16. Ibid. The Science of the Artificial (Cambridge. Ibid. 7. C. Harry Braverman. 14. 1966). 1976). Joseph Weizenbaum. Chester Finn. 12. 37. op. 1977). 340–341. America By Design (New York: Alfred A. Sex-Pol. Culture and Educational Futures. 1981). 1984). p. 11. Mass.H. pp. Dialectic of the Enlightenment (New York: Seabury Press. ed. cit. III. pp. trans. One Dimensional Man (Boston: Beacon Press. 1979). B. 1972). 8. 1980). Simon.Wright Mills. 200. Computers and Human Reason (New York: W.Rethinking Educational Reform 21 NOTES 1. About Behaviorism (New York: Alfred A. 1968). p. . W. Jürgen Habermas. 32. 33–36.Shannon. Mass. 1975). Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattare. 33. p.Reich. 15. Mind Storms (New York. ed. 4. Herbert Marcuse.Knopf Publishers. 3. 9. 33.” Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.. 1969).


or they suggest reforms that ignore the intelligence. Furthermore. personal relationships. It is also described by less vocal critics as the growing failure of schools to prepare students to think critically and creatively with regard to developing the sophisticated literacy skills necessary to make informed and effective choices about the worlds of work. educational reformers have responded to the crises in public education by primarily offering solutions that either ignore the roles of teachers in preparing learners to be active and critical citizens. this crisis is characterized as a failure of the schools to prepare students adequately for the ever changing demands of a sophisticated technological economy. On the other hand. The call for excellence and improved student creativity has been accompanied by policy suggestions that further erode the power teachers have over the conditions of their work while simultaneously proposing that administrators and teachers look outside of their schools for improvements and needed reforms. there is the growing public failure to recognize the 23 . and the economy.TWO Teaching and the Role of the Transformative Intellectual A STRANGE PARADOX haunts the discourse regarding the crisis facing public education in the United States. and experience that teachers might bring to bear on such issues. politics. such reforms embrace technological solutions that undermine the historical and cultural specificity of school life and further weaken the possibilities for school administrators and teachers to work with parents and local groups to improve schools.1 On the one hand. culture. Underlying both sets of criticisms is the notion that schools have failed to take the issues of excellence and creativity seriously and in doing so have undermined the economic and academic possibilities that could be conferred upon both students and the larger society. Underlying the paradox at work in the discourse of school reform is a dual failure: first. judgment. The result is that many of the educational reforms appear to reduce teachers to the status of low-level employees or civil servants whose main function is to implement reforms decided by experts in the upper levels of state and educational bureaucracies.

We want to argue that part of the growing crisis in public education centers around the declining competence of students and others to effectively interrogate and communicate ideational content. but the very capacity for conceptual thought itself. a problem marked by the increasing division of intellectual and social labor and the increasing trend towards the oppressive management and administration of everyday life. Moreover.2 Teachers are not simply being proletarianized. . The current tendency to reformulate the status and nature of teacher work is evident in a number of historical and sociological tendencies that need to be mentioned briefly before we argue for an alternative view of how teacher work should be interpreted. while theories of teaching are increasingly technicized and standardized in the interest of efficiency and the management and control of discrete forms of knowledge. and political forms depend on a self motivated and autonomous public.24 Education Under Siege central role that teachers must play in any viable attempt to revitalize the public schools. or serves to widen the political gap between those who control the schools and those who actually deal with curricula and students on a day-to-day basis. the precondition for which is critical thinking. is reduced to the implementation of taxonomies that subordinate knowledge to forms of methodological reification. In other words. the changing nature of their roles and function signifies the disappearance of a form of intellectual labor central to the nature of critical pedagogy itself. in jeopardy is not merely the ability of students to be creative. cultural. Our main point will be that the crisis in creativity and critical learning has in large part to do with the developing trend toward the disempowerment of teachers at all levels of education. This involves not only a growing loss of power among teachers around the basic conditions of their work. Pedagogy. but also a changing perception of their role as reflective practitioners. the failure to recognize that the ideological and political interests underlying the dominant thrusts in school reform are at odds with the traditional role of organizing public education around the need to educate students for the maintenance and defense of the traditions and principles necessary for a democratic society. secondly. in this case. the tendency to reduce teachers to either high-level clerks implementing the orders of others within the school bureaucracy or to specialized technicians is part of a much larger problem within western societies. since democratic social. Moreover. In the first instance. the crisis at hand may be the very survival of democracy itself. In effect. teachers are relegated to instrumental tasks that limit the possibilities for oppositional discourse and social practices. we will argue that teacher work is being increasingly situated within a technical and social division of labor that either reduces teachers to the dictates of experts removed from the context of the classroom.

Although using the rhetoric of objective science and the public welfare. In commenting on the rise of the American Economic Association.4 The theoretical tenets of the natural sciences began to provide the model for dominant academic discourse and inquiry in the social sciences. they used the ideology of expertise in the interests of social control and developed pragmatic. hegemonic intellectuals serving the emerging national corporate elite. and the university community as a body of social scientists who in their capacity as experts “were to educate the masses and provide direction for moral and social progress. university social scientists shifted from the terrain of social reform to the role of expert as policy advisor. Claiming to be impartial and scientific arbiters of social questions. moreover.”3 With the advent of the twentieth century. the administration and organization of public schools were increasingly brought under the influence of the instrumental ideologies of corporate business interests.The Transformative Intellectual 25 TOWARD A PROLETARIANIZATION OF TEACHER WORK Historically. the relationship between knowledge and power took on a new dimension as the development of social science became closely linked to supporting the ideological and social practices of a business society. social science experts became advocates for the existing order. their clientele was the Progressive wing of corporate capital and other professionals…. Within this context. federal industrial relations commissions. and the income tax. they provide an insight into the general political direction in which the professional associations and the social sciences in general were moving: As economists were more routinely called to expert service and initiated in the politics of power. the growing professionalization of academics and their respective disciplines resulted in a redefinition of the theoretical nature of the social sciences. In charting the rise and success of the academic social sciences. technical mechanisms to consolidate and finance colonial fiscal policy. Thus. the relationship between the role of educators and the larger society has been mediated by the image of the school teacher as a dedicated public servant reproducing the dominant culture in the interest of the common good. Silva and Slaughter ably document that in the United States between 1865 and 1910 the emerging professional associations of the developing social sciences lent their skills and knowledge to the economic and social problems faced by corporate liberal interests. Increasingly. they refined their notion of constituency. This move tended to reduce critical thought and reason to its merely technical dimensions. research . Within this positivistically oriented discourse.

7 One area in which the dominance of technocratic rationality becomes manifest is in the training of prospective teachers. but that which they are to master is limited in scope (e. teachers are viewed less as creative and imaginative thinkers who can transcend the ideology of methods and means in order to critically evaluate the purpose of educational discourse and practice than as obedient civil servants . The history of this emerging technocratic rationality in both the schools and in public life has been amply documented.11 Within this behavioristic model of education. to a body of professional content knowledge and teaching skills) and is fully determined in advance by others often on the basis of research on teacher effectiveness. As Kliebard.9 and others10 have pointed out teacher education programs in the United States have long been dominated by their behavioristic orientation towards issues of mastery and methodological refinement as the basis for developing teacher competence. Underlying this orientation to teacher education is a metaphor of ‘production.5 It is important to stress that the primacy of technical and economic rationality did more than devalue the importance of moral and religious reason in everyday life.26 Education Under Siege techniques became increasingly freed from value judgments. and the devaluation of critical intellectual work for the primacy of practical considerations. and it need not be reinvented here.g. but its effects have taken on a special significance in the 1980s and can be seen in a number of areas. 8 Zeichner. and science became synonymous with the search for transhistorical laws.. the standardizations of knowledge in the interest of managing and controlling it. The prospective teacher is viewed primarily as a passive recipient of this professional knowledge and plays little part in determining the substance and direction of his or her preparation program.6 Underlying this technical rationality and its accompanying rationalization of reason and nature was a call for the separation of conception from execution. Theory was required to explain rather than constitute or determine the object under analysis. it also strengthened relations of dependency and powerlessness for ever widening groups of people through the social practices of an industrial ideology and psychology that reached far into the culture industry and other spheres of public life. The normative and political implications of this approach are made clear by Zeichner.’ a view of teaching as an ‘applied science’ and a view of the teacher as primarily an ‘executor’ of the laws and principles of effective teaching. Prospective teachers may or may not proceed through the curriculum at their own pace and may participate in varied or standardized learning activities. useful knowledge was measured next to its managerial capabilities.

and systems of accountability are beyond the grasp of either teachers or the average layperson. On the contrary. a growing separation between teachers and administrators. Schools are not seen as sites of struggle over different orders of representation. The overriding message here is that the logic of technocratic rationality serves to remove teachers from participating in a critical way in the production and evaluation of school curricula. Richard Bates13 and William Foster14 have pointed out that much of the training for school administrators. schools become reduced to the sterile logic of flow charts. what their responsibility might be in interrogating the means and ends of specific school policy. students are often trained to share techniques on how to control student discipline. All too often teachereducation programs lose sight of the need to educate students to be teacher-scholars by developing educational courses that focus on the immediacy of school problems and substitute the discourse of management and efficiency for a critical analysis of the underlying conditions that structure school life.’ with form rather than substance….The Transformative Intellectual 27 dutifully carrying out the dictates of others. or as sites that embody particular configurations of power that shape and structure activities of classroom life. Inherent in such training is the notion that complex language systems. For example. and organize a day’s activities as efficiently as possible. Instead of helping students to think about who they are and what they should do in classrooms.” For instance. management controls. which are often intended to promote what is often euphemistically called “educational leadership. principals and superintendents is narrowly technical. the form that school . future school administrators are trained in the image of the social science expert. and an increasing tendency toward bureaucratization. its logic exercises a strong influence on graduate programs as well. concerned primarily with producing a marriage between organization theory and the principles of “sound” business management. Too often students in education…have difficulty even finding serious questions worth addressing. The emphasis of teacher education curricula is on finding out what works. teach a given subject effectively. it also presents an ahistorical and depoliticized view of school governance and policy. it was noted in a recent study of doctoral programs in education that “Research in education is preoccupied with techniques. The technocratic consciousness embodied in this view is not only at odds with the notion of decentralized control and the principles of participatory democracy. The technical rationality that underlies this type of educational training is not confined to undergraduate programs.”12 If prospective teachers are often trained to be specialized technicians. rather than with the inquiry into the nature and course of events—with ‘how to’ rather than ‘what.

and published with the intent of being marketed for large general student audiences. students. These are basically management pedagogies because the central question regarding learning is reduced to the problem of management. standardized for easier management and consumption.16 Similarly. how one judges the purpose and nature of instruction. competencybased learning systems.”18 The principles underlying management pedagogies are at odds with the notion that teachers should be actively involved in producing . that knowledge based upon concrete experience be treated as low status. if not most of the knowledge is recordable in quantifiable form. In many school textbooks knowledge is broken down into discrete parts. how one views the role of school in society. that the knowledge be communicable from one person to another using conventional media of communication. schools increasingly adopt forms of pedagogy that routinize and standardize classroom instruction.. i. that the units of knowledge be ordered in sequences. that the knowledge be objectified in the sense of having an existence independent of its human origins. the principles at work in this rationality are also found in many school textbooks and. hierarchy and control. For instance. management pedagogies. Apple has pointed to elementary school science curricula packages which orient teachers to simply carrying out predetermined content and instructional procedures. “how to allocate resources (teachers. and what the latter implies for understanding how specific social and cultural interests shape all levels of school life.28 Education Under Siege knowledge takes and the pedagogy used to legitimate it become subordinated to the principles of efficiency. that the knowledge is stratified into various levels of status or prestige. that success in acquisition of part. This is evident in the proliferation of instructional-based curricula and management schemes.15 The increasing tendency to reduce teacher autonomy in the development and planning of curricula is also evident in the production of prepackaged curriculum materials that contribute to a form of deskilling among teachers. and materials) to produce the maximum number of certified…students within a designated time. The relationship between the bureaucratization of schools and the specific structuring of knowledge is illuminated in the following: The major demands placed upon the structures of knowledge by bureaucratized schools are: that the knowledge be divided into components or relatively discrete components.17 Furthermore. what we call.e. is removed from the collective influence of teachers themselves. but that knowledge expressed in abstract and generalized principles be regarded as having high status. and similar approaches such as mastery learning. One consequence is that decisions and questions over what counts as knowledge. what is worth teaching.

The payoff for schools systems is not merely the touting of more manageable forms of pedagogy. 3) be economical for schools in Chicago and elsewhere to implement. pedagogies. 2) require little inservice time. political. timeon-task pedagogies operates from the pedagogically erroneous assumption that all students can learn from the same materials. and college board scores. the narrowing of curricula choices to a back-to-basics format. Providing materials that were centrally developed and successfully field tested would: 1) reduce greatly the time needed to prepare and organize materials. Simultaneously. The issues embodied in such questions represent a mode of teacher autonomy and control that are a positive hinderance to those school administrators who believe that excellence is a quality displayed primarily in higher reading. and how student experiences and histories relate to the learning process itself. represents a technological solution to a highly charged political and social problem. and 6) be easy for substitutes to use.The Transformative Intellectual 29 curricula materials suited to the cultural and social contexts in which they teach. and the introduction of lock-step.19 Underlying this approach to educational reform is a mode of technocratic rationality that restricts curricula and student diversity and simultaneously refuses to address seriously the issue of how to deal pedagogically with less privileged learners. This becomes more obvious in light of the major assumption underlying management pedagogy: that the behavior of teachers needs to be controlled and made consistent and predictable for different schools and student populations. if the problem can be measured it can be solved. The following statement by some Chicago school administrators enamored of management pedagogy points to the ideology behind the growing proletarianization and deskilling of teacher work. In the first instance. this type of school policy also makes for good public relations in that school administrators can provide technical solutions to the complex social. and quality of instruction necessary for mastery of each objective. 4) standardize the definition. The notion that students come from different histories. and talents is ignored. linguistic practices. 5) reduce greatly the time needed for developing lesson plans. sequencing. and modes of evaluation. and economic problems that plague their schools. teacher judgment. These pedagogies ignore questions regarding cultural specificity. cultures. they invoke the tenets of accountability as indicators of success. the current drive among school reformers to deny a high school diploma to students who don’t pass a comprehensive graduating exam. In other words. embody different experiences. or deny entrance to undergraduate and graduate schools to students who don’t measure up to the call for higher scores on any one of a number of tests. Similarly. The central issue is how public schools and . math.

it provides a theoretical basis for examining teacher work as a form of intellectual labor. instruction. But it is distressing to see how many well-meaning but short-sighted legislators and educators are taking advantage of the current mandates for excellence by supporting proposals that can have the effect of eliminating from local high schools and colleges the very students who need them most. That is. Rather. regardless of how routinized it may become is abstracted from the functioning of the mind in some capacity. and teacher training. a wag said of Admiral Hyman Rickover’s elitist recommendations for education. This is a crucial issue because by arguing that the use of the mind is a general part of all human activity. Some years ago. shoot the rest. ‘Save the best. and in doing so highlight the core of what it means to view teachers as reflective practitioners.”20 RETHINKING THE NATURE OF THE INTELLECTUAL What we have tried to do in the previous section is point to the various ideological and material forces at work in the United States that currently undermine the role and conditions of work necessary for teachers to assume the posture of thoughtful.Patricia Cross sums the problem up well in her comment: Clearly. we can illuminate and recover the rather general notion that all human activity involves some form of thinking. teachers can be seen not merely as “performers professionally equipped to realize effectively any goals that may be set for them. The category of intellectual is helpful in a number of ways. it clarifies the ideological and material conditions necessary for intellectual work. Secondly.”21 .30 Education Under Siege institutions of higher education might be systematically failing certain groups of students. In what follows. Thirdly. we dignify the human capacity for integrating thinking and practice. ideologies. K. critical educational leaders. we want to argue that one way to rethink and restructure the nature of teacher work is to view teachers as intellectuals. and interests that are produced and legitimated by teacher work. By viewing teachers as intellectuals. [they should] be viewed as free men and women with a special dedication to the values of the intellect and the enhancement of the critical powers of the young. First. or how they might reevaluate their own approaches to teaching and learning so as to take seriously their obligation to educate all students to be productive citizens. we cannot afford to “improve’ educational institutions at the expense of society.’ Selection is the easy route to quality—but it is a swinging-pendulum solution that fails to address the underlying problems of curriculum. Within this discourse. no activity. it helps to illuminate the various modes of intelligibility.

outside experts. This means that they must take a responsible role in shaping the purposes and conditions of schooling. instead. the concept of intellectual provides the theoretical groundwork for interrogating the specific ideological and economic conditions under which intellectuals as a social group need to work in order to function as critical. This last point takes on a normative and political dimension and seems especially relevant for teachers. and designing from the processes of implementation and execution. viewing teachers as intellectuals provides a strong critique of those ideologies that legitimate social practices which separate conceptualization. public schooling. this has been due to the pervasiveness of a growing technocratic rationality that separates theory from practice and contributes to the development of modes of pedagogy that ignore teacher creativity and insight. In part. the education of a class of intellectuals vital to the development of a democratic society then the category of intellectual becomes a way of linking the purpose of teacher education. Such a task is impossible within a division of labor where teachers have little influence over the ideological and economic conditions of their work. This issue becomes all the more important when seen as part of the growing objectification of human life in general. It is also due to the predominance of theories and forms of school leadership and organization that give teachers little control over the nature of their work. thinking. Moreover. Neither teaching training institutions nor the public schools have viewed themselves historically as important sites for educating teachers as intellectuals. to remove teachers and students from their histories and cultural experiences in the name of pedagogical approaches that will make schooling more instrumental. For if we believe that the role of teaching cannot be reduced to merely training in the practical skills. but involves. and what the larger goals are for which they are striving. There is also a growing political and ideological tendency as expressed in the current debates on educational reform. The latter not only shape the . and in-service training to the very principles necessary for the development of a democratic order and society. These approaches generally mean that teachers and students alike are “situated” within curricula approaches and instructional management schemes that reduce their roles to either implementing or receiving the goals and objectives of publishers. The concept of teacher as intellectual provides the theoretical posture to fight against this type of ideological and pedagogical imposition. It is important to stress that teachers must take active responsibility for raising serious questions about what they teach. how they are to teach it.The Transformative Intellectual 31 Furthermore. creative human beings. planning. and others far removed from the specificities of daily classroom life.

it means fighting against those ideological and material practices that reproduce privileges for the few and social and economic inequality for the many. and patriarchal interests. . racial. It also means defining teacher work against the imperative to develop knowledge and skills that provide students with the tools they will need to be leaders rather than simply managers or skilled civil servants. Instead.32 Education Under Siege structure and experiences of what teachers do in schools. and help to sustain specific organizational patterns and classroom social relations. The general overriding principle in most teacher education programs is the emphasis on having prospective educators master pedagogical techniques that eschew questions of purpose and the discourse of critique and possibility. reflective scholars and practitioners. We see educational theory as having a deep commitment to developing schools as sites that prepare students to participate in and struggle to develop democratic public spheres. legitimate cultural forms that reproduce specific class. Similarly. In this way. the discourse of educational theory can be understood as a form of knowledge that legitimates and reproduces forms of social life. and debated within specific pedagogical sites. Any attempt to reformulate the role of teachers as intellectuals has to also include the broader issue of how to view educational theory in general. it is seen as an eminently political discourse that emerges from and characterizes an expression of struggle over what forms of authority. We have argued that by viewing teachers as intellectuals we can begin to rethink and reformulate those historical traditions and conditions that have prevented schools and teachers from assuming their full potential as active. This is evident in the way such discourses arise out of. but also the way in which they are prepared in teacher training institutions. All educational theories and discourse are ideologies that have an intimate relation to questions of power. we can be more specific about the different relationships that teachers have to both their work and to the society in which such work takes place. high and low status knowledge. We want to both qualify this point and extend it further. forms of moral regulation. and structure the distinctions between. passed on. Educational theory in this case is not viewed as merely the application of objective scientific principles to the concrete study of schooling and learning. and versions of the past and future should be legitimated. but also to contextualize in political and normative terms the concrete social functions that teachers perform. If we view educational theory as a form of social theory. We believe that it is imperative not only to view teachers as intellectuals. This means that the value of educational theory and practice should be linked to providing the conditions for teachers and students to understand schools as public spheres dedicated to forms of self and social empowerment. orders of representation.

however. immediate predictable range. manipulate. it becomes possible to be more specific in defining the meaning of the category of intellectual and to interrogate the political and pedagogical function of the intellectual as a social category. There are two related but separate points by which to venture a definition of the intellectual. rather than intellectuals in the traditional sense of thinkers concerned with the totality. privatized. criticizes. or that the quality of intellectual inquiry is only operative within specific social functions. it is fairly clear that what modern society produces is an army of alienated. infailingly practical quality…. is “an excellence of mind that is employed within a fairly narrow. adjustive. theorizes. creative. We do not mean . who uses experience to develop theory and questions theory on the basis of further experience. imagines. Whereas intelligence seeks to grasp. wonders. has a wide breadth of knowledge about other aspects of the world. and uncultured experts who are knowledgeable only within very narrowly defined areas. intellect examines. it is a manipulative. The more general definition is rooted in a quality of mind that is characterized as having a creative. This technical intelligentsia. Intelligence. Intellect. An intellectual is also someone who has the courage to question authority and who refuses to act counter to his or her own experience and judgment. reorder. Richard Hofstadter epitomizes this position in his distinction between the meaning of intellect and the meaning of intelligence. Its rationality. …unless one fudges the definition of intellectuals in terms of purely formal and statistical educational criteria.24 In our view all of these positions make distinctions that are important but also problematic by suggesting that intellectual inquiry is either the repository of specific groups of people.23 Herb Kohl is more specific and provides a definition of the intellectual that relates directly to teachers. is growing by leaps and bounds to run the increasingly complex bureaucratic and industrial apparatus. is only instrumental in character. critical and contemplative relationship to the world of ideas. for him.”22 Paul Piccone provides a similar distinction but places it within a larger social context. He writes: An intellectual is someone who knows about his or her field.The Transformative Intellectual 33 By politicizing the notion of schooling and revealing the ideological nature of educational theory and practice. ponders. adjust. and thus suitable mainly to perform partial tasks rather than tackling substantial questions of social organization and political direction. and contemplative side of mind. on the other hand is the critical.

In his attempt to turn the issue of the nature and role of the intellectual into a political question.’ an artist. There is no human activity from which every form of intellectual participation can be excluded: homo faber cannot be separated from homo sapiens.25 For Gramsci. as mentioned previously. one is referring in reality only to the immediate social function of the professional category of the intellectuals. whether towards intellectual elaboration or towards muscular-nervous effort. one that is true to its own impulses and judgments. The significance of this insight is that it gives pedagogical activity an inherently political quality. For instance. all people are intellectuals in that they think. he is a ‘philosopher. he participates in a particular conception of the world. At the same time. mediate. When one distinguishes between intellectuals and nonintellectuals.34 Education Under Siege to suggest that the question of what qualities of mind constitute intellectual inquiry is not an important one. carries on some form of intellectual activity. But even the relationship between efforts of intellectual-cerebral elaboration and muscular-nervous effort is not always the same. and who harbors a spirit of inquiry that is critical and oppositional. but not all of them function in society as intellectuals. that is. that is. a man of taste. Gramsci is worth quoting on this issue. Antonio Gramsci provides a more helpful theoretical elaboration on this issue. because non-intellectuals do not exist. Gramsci provides the theoretical groundwork for analyzing the political role of those intellectuals who had to be considered in terms of the organizational and directive functions they performed in a given society. that is. all men and women are intellectuals. finally. . outside his professional activity. For Gramsci. by arguing that all people do not function in their social capacity as intellectuals. one cannot speak of nonintellectuals. who views ideas in more than instrumental terms. one has in mind the direction in which their specific professional activity is weighted. Each man (sic). is that varying degrees of critical and common sense thought is endemic to what it means to be human. to bring into being new modes of thought. has a conscious line of moral conduct. The point here. These positions are informative because they suggest that intellectual inquiry is characterized by someone who has a breadth of knowledge about the world. Gramsci’s view of political activity was deeply rooted in the task of raising the quality of thought of the working class. although one can speak of intellectuals. This means that. and adhere to a specific view of the world. But we want to make a distinction between those characteristics of intellectual inquiry as they exist in various degrees and proportions among different individuals and the social function of intellectual work itself. so that there are varying degrees of specific intellectual activity. and therefore contributes to sustain a conception of the world or to modify it.

and various levels of executives in middle management positions. by politicizing the nature of intellectual work. such intellectuals identify with the dominant relations of power and become the propagators of its ideologies and values. This group represents a stratum of intellectuals that gives ruling classes a homogeneity and awareness of their economic. In the advanced industrial countries organic intellectuals can be found in all strata of society and include specialists in industrial organizations. . refuse to take sides on different issues. culture. it is the political nature of intellectual work that is the issue at hand. and politics. But Gramsci’s terms need to be expanded in order to grasp the changing nature and social function of intellectuals in their capacities as educators. In other words. there is no immediate correspondence between class location and consciousness. On the contrary. As agents of the status quo. Gramsci strongly challenges dominant theoretical traditions that have decontexulized the role that intellectuals play in education and the larger society.26 Gramsci’s categories illuminate the political nature of intellectual work within specific social functions. Inherent in such a view is the notion that the intellectual is obligated to engage in a value free discourse. Moreover. 27 Furthermore. and the pedagogical functions they perform. This is a major theoretical advance over the ongoing debate among Marxists and others as to whether intellectuals constitute a specific class or culture. For Gramsci. Gramsci’s analysis helps to shatter the myth that the nature of intellectual work is determined by one’s class location. Such a view reinforces the idea that intellectuals are free floating and detached in the sense that they perform a type of labor that is objective and apolitical. challenging. Similarly. but there is a correspondence between the social function of one intellectual’s work and the particular relationship it has to modifying. or reproducing the dominant society. he criticizes those theorists who decontextualized the intellectual by suggesting that he or she exist independently of issues of class. Gramsci’s notion that intellectuals represent a social category and not a class raises interesting questions as to how educators might be viewed at different levels of schooling in terms of their politics. conservative organic intellectuals provide the dominant class with forms of moral and intellectual leadership. In other words. and social functions. Gramsci attempts to locate the political and social function of intellectuals through his analyses of the role of conservative and radical organic intellectuals. one that necessitates that he or she refuse to make a commitment to specific views of the world. professors in universities.The Transformative Intellectual 35 In the broadest sense. political. the nature of their discourse. or refuse to link knowledge with the fundamental principles of emancipation. journalists in the culture industry. power.

that advance emancipatory traditions and cultures within and without alternative public spheres. In the second instance. . other than and including the working class. In the first instance. b) critical intellectuals. moreover. this means inserting education directly into the political sphere by arguing that schooling represents both a struggle for meaning and a struggle over power relations. there are teachers who move in and out between these categories and defy placement in any one of them. these intellectuals employ the discourse of self-criticism so as to make the foundations for a critical pedagogy explicit while simultaneously illuminating the relevance of the latter for both students and the larger society. critical reflection and action become part of a fundamental social project to help students develop a deep and abiding faith in the struggle to overcome injustices and to change themselves. c) accommodating intellectuals. so as to make it possible. ideal-typical categories whose purpose is to bring into bold relief the cluster of integrated elements which indicate the interests and tendencies to which they point. and d) hegemonic intellectuals.28 Utilizing the language of critique. who function within specific historical conditions and structural constraints as well as within cultural forms and ideologies that are the basis for contradictions and struggles. Thus schooling becomes a central terrain where power and politics operate out of a dialectical relationship between individuals and groups. it is conceivable that teachers under different circumstances may opt out of one tendency and move into another category. is to understand the preconditions necessary to struggle for it. It is imperative to note that these are somewhat exaggerated. They point to forms of ideology and social practice that could be taken up by any number of diverse political positions or world views. TRANSFORMATIVE INTELLECTUALS Transformative intellectuals is a category which suggests that teachers as intellectuals can emerge from and work with any number of groups. Knowledge and power are inextricably linked in this case to the presupposition that to choose life.36 Education Under Siege The categories around which we want to analyze the social function of educators as intellectuals are: a) transformative intellectuals. Finally. Needless to say. Central to the category of transformative intellectuals is the task of making the pedagogical more political and the political more pedagogical. these categories are irreducible to any one specific political doctrine. Within this view of schooling. making the political more pedagogical means utilizing forms of pedagogy that treat students as critical agents.

and a practical vision for the future. the language of critique unites with the language of possibility when it points to the conditions necessary for new forms of culture. the posture of critical intellectuals is selfconsciously apolitical. and ultimately emancipatory. transformative intellectuals must take seriously the need to come to grips with those ideological and material aspects of the dominant society that attempt to separate the issues of power and knowledge. In short. and gendered settings. It is at this point that the language of critique unites with the language of possibility. In part. and makes knowledge meaningful. Often this retreat from politics is justified on the basis of arguments that posit the impossibility of politics for reasons as ideologically diverse as the claim that we live in a totally administered society. but they often refuse or are unable to move beyond their isolated posture to the terrain of collective solidarity and struggle. which they see as part of their professional status or obligation as intellectuals. Their protests constitute a critical function. particularly as these are related to pedagogical experiences connected to classroom practice. and dreams. In most cases. this suggests that transformative intellectuals take seriously the need to give students an active voice in their learning experiences.The Transformative Intellectual 37 problematizes knowledge. the most celebrated effort to establish the status of . or the simple refusal to believe that human agencies exist that have any effect on history. Which means working to create the ideological and material conditions in both schools and the larger society that give students the opportunity to become agents of civic courage. As individuals they are critical of inequality and injustice. Of course. CRITICAL INTELLECTUALS Critical intellectuals are ideologically alternative to existing institutions and modes of thought. That is. but they do not see themselves as connected either to a specific social formation or as performing a general social function that is expressively political in nature. historical. along with the particularity of their diverse problems. or that history is in the hands of a technology out of control. class. critical. As such. new modes of communication. It means developing a critical vernacular that is attentive to problems experienced at the level of everyday life. hopes. utilizes dialogue. and they try to define their relationship to the rest of society as free-floating. the starting point pedagogically for such intellectuals is not with the isolated student but with collective actors in their various cultural. racial. alternative social practices. and therefore citizens who have the knowledge and courage to take seriously the need to make despair unconvincing and hope practical.

“he” can achieve distance required to grasp the truth. To the extent that the “man of knowledge” was engaged in the critical appropriation of truth he was free of the interests which. the benefits of the social order. refusing to link with social movements whose world view condemns them to partial knowledge. in their origins. Rather. That social movements are bound to influence the intellectuals as much as be influenced by them. Yet. We cannot discuss in detail here our assertion that the enlightenment conceptions of truth.. It was by its nature partial knowledge. Although there is much to commend in Habermas’s critique of Marxism’s conception of the relation between knowledge and human interest. we hold that the conception of rationality which believes in the possibility of separating science from ideology to be another form of ideology. reflexive understanding and autocritique. etc. objective reason. he has merely reasserted the ideology of modernity in which science as a value of neutral discourse is possible and depends for its realization on such categories as undistorted communication. if he were situated within a particular class. this is not the same as arguing that intellectuals must remain on the fringes. For Mannheim. they identified with one. Certainly we agree with the proposition that reflexive understanding and critical discourse are necessary to overcome the limitations imposed by common sense on human emancipation. Yet by positing the autonomy of reason and the possibility of freeing knowledge from its ideological presuppositions.30 Habermas tries to counter Marxism’s claim that truth can be arrived at by the proletariat: as the rising class their interests are universal by virtue of their partial exclusion from society. such as those of Jürgen Habermas argue the same point from a somewhat different premise. Habermas wishes to free the emancipatory human interest from the limits imposed by history on the capacity of social class to make their particular interests universal.38 Education Under Siege intellectuals as a “free-floating” critical social layer was that of Karl Mannheim. and are no longer excluded from. but necessary result of the formation of the transforming intellectual. we do not share his faith in objective reason as the goal to which intellectual labor strives. are themselves part of the partial discourses of . Mannheim wrestled with the Kantian question of how to achieve knowledge of the social totality and concluded that this could not be achieved within the framework of partisan research. any ideology was understood as inquiry subject to the contamination of social interest. When the intellectual is freed from particular interests.29 He argued that genuine intellectuals could not be situated in any particular social class even if. This claim has failed in the twentieth century to the degree that the workers have been integrated within. is part of the contradictory. Recent attempts to continue this discourse about knowledge. transformed knowledge into ideology.

HEGEMONIC INTELLECTUALS Hegemonic intellectuals do more than surrender to forms of academic and political incorporation. Such intellectuals are generally not aware of this process in that they do not define themselves as self-conscious agents of the status quo. at least. and ethical functions. ACCOMMODATING INTELLECTUALS Accommodating intellectuals generally stand firm within an ideological posture and set of material practices that support the dominant society and its ruling groups. critical intellectuals forget that emancipation cannot be delivered from the outside. In other words. on the faculties of major universities. that the discovery of the ineluctability of difference is among the most important achievements of physics and biology of the twentieth century. These are the intellectuals who decry politics while simultaneously refusing to take risks. as managers of the culture industry. as Habermas does. . they function primarily to mediate uncritically ideas and social practices that serve to reproduce the status quo. This stratum of intellectuals provides various factions of the dominant classes with a homogeneity and awareness of their economic. The interests that define the conditions as well as the nature of their work are tied to the preservation of the existing order. Another more subtle variation is the intellectual who disdains politics by proclaiming professionalism as a value system. Suffice it to say that science itself has become aware of the limits of its own aspirations for totalization.The Transformative Intellectual 39 historical actors. Such intellectuals are to be found on the consulting lists of major foundations. they self-consciously define themselves through the forms of moral and intellectual leadership they provide for dominant groups and classes. This category of intellectuals also define themselves in terms that suggest they are free-floating. political. one which often entails the spurious concept of scientific objectivity. that intersubjective understanding can clear away the tangled web of discourse is a retreat from Sartre’s admonition that only the committed intellectual can arrive at assertions that serve human emancipation. or hide behind spurious claims to objectivism. and in spirit. even though their politics further the interests of the dominant classes. removed from the vagaries of class conflicts and partisan politics. To claim. But in spite of such rationalizations. in teaching and administrative positions at various levels of schooling. situated in specific times and places.

etc. regardless of the ideological interests such teachers represent there is always the possibility for real tensions and antagonisms between their lack of control over the goals and purposes of schooling and the relative autonomy they enjoy. it is imperative to understand the contradictory roles that transformative intellectuals occupy within the various levels of schooling. It is within these tensions and objective contradictions that the possibilities exist for shifting alliances and movement among teachers from one category to the next. teachers have been laid off. given increased course loads. Needless to say. unlike most workers they do have some control over the nature of their labor process. as Erik Olin Wright has pointed out. they define their political terrain by offering to students forms of alternative discourse and critical social practices whose interests are often at odds with the overall hegemonic role of the school and the society it supports. it is important to stress more specifically that the teachers who occupy them cannot be viewed merely from the perspective of the ideological interests they represent. The paradox is not easy to resolve. the notion of transformative intellectual makes visible the paradoxical position that radical educators face in the public schools and in the universities. like workers they have to sell their labor power and have no control over the educational apparatus as a whole. with those in some tiers of higher education. and forced to implement administratively dictated pedagogies. the positions that teachers hold must also be analyzed in terms of the objective antagonisms they experience as intellectuals who occupy contradictory class locations. On the other hand.40 Education Under Siege For fear of these categories appearing to be too rigid. what to teach. i. For instance.31 That is. On the one hand. and often represents a struggle against incorporation by the university or school system which reward those educators willing to either remove critical scholarship from their teaching or remove it from any relation to concrete political movements. having the most autonomy. how to teach. denied tenure. In the most immediate sense. in a time of economic crisis. the relative autonomy that teachers have at different levels of schooling differs. THE DISCOURSE AND ROLE OF EDUCATORS AS TRANSFORMATIVE INTELLECTUALS In order to fight for schools as democratic spheres. particularly the elite universities. Moreover. there is . On the other hand. what kind of research to do. At the university level for example.e. such intellectuals earn a living within institutions that play a fundamental role in producing the dominant culture. For example..

the form and content of school texts. In the first instance. This might take the form of educators establishing social projects in which they critically interrogate existing school curricula. and the working conditions under which teachers operate. policy formation at the local and state levels. discourse. it would also give radical and critical educators the opportunity to begin to communicate to each other about their common concerns.32 Rather than surrender to this form of academic and political incorporation. teachers at all levels of schooling are subtlely and sometimes not so subtlely pressured to respond to the issues. the hidden curricula. etc. but to the dilemmas and problems within bourgeois social science.The Transformative Intellectual 41 enormous pressure for radical educators to peddle their academic wares merely as viable commodities for academic journals and conferences. But often the pressures are quite subtle. such alliances provide the possibility for university and public school people to redefine the traditional theory-practice relationship within the context of their alliances with each other. blacklisting. struggle to win over critical intellectuals when possible. in order to overcome the social division of labor between theoretical production and practical knowledge (read as theory and practice). transformative intellectuals from . Not only would such projects provide a theoretical and political service by critically engaging the nature of school life. and such relevance is dictated not by the centrality of the questions to [radical social theory and practice]. and social practices deemed legitimate by the dominant culture. it is essential to define the role of the transformative intellectual in a way that points to forms of counterhegemonic practice that can both avoid and challenge such incorporation. One essential starting point is for transformative intellectuals to form alliances among themselves. modes of research. teachers and academics who function as transformative intellectuals can collectively organize in order to engage in projects designed to understand the critical role that educators play at all levels of schooling in producing and legitimating existing social relations. bourgeois ideological and political practices. harassment. Under the banner of accountability. played out through the intellectual debates within professional conferences and journals. Moreover. Erik Olin Wright is worth quoting on this issue: [Radical] theorists within…universities are under tremendous pressure to ask questions structured by bourgeois problems. particularly as it defines the university-public school relationship. To publish in the proper journals one has to ask questions which those journals see as relevant. That is. and to join and work with oppositional social movements outside of the schools. Such pressures are often extremely direct. taking the form of tenure criteria.

Moreover. Their teaching hours are too long. and playground duty that needlessly constrain their time and teaching abilities. cafeteria duty. Intellectual work needs to be supported by practical conditions buttressed by concomitant democratic ideologies. In effect. trade union. teachers labor in the public schools under organizational constraints and ideological conditions that leave them little room for collective work and critical pursuits. e.42 Education Under Siege these different spheres can forge alliances around common social and political projects in which they share their theoretical concerns and practical talents. Intellectuals learn from and with others engaged in similar political struggles. symposiums. feminist. Their salaries in the United States are a scandal that is only now being fully recognized by the American public. Such projects also have value not only because they promote political unity and are necessary to fight against accommodating and hegemonic intellectuals. If teachers are to fight for conditions that support joint teaching. That is. locally based efforts against toxic waste dumping. the political becomes pedagogical. they operate under class loads and numerous noncurricular tasks such as bus duty. and reward systems that have become the traditional referents for intellectual activity. and neighborhood groups.33 Such alliances are absolutely necessary if teachers. The point here is that we recognize that these different educational sites give rise to various forms of theoretical production. are to be able to bring outside force to bear on fighting for ideological and material conditions within the schools that will allow them to function as intellectuals. Transformative intellectuals can join with any number of social groups engaged in emancipatory struggle. By linking up with ecology. and they have little say over the selection. conditions that will allow them to reflect. publish their achievements for teachers and others outside of their local schools.. produce curriculum materials. etc. they are generally isolated in cellular structures and have few opportunities to teach with others. At the present time. organization. but also because they open the possibility for transformative intellectuals to develop and work with movements outside of the limiting contours of the academic disciplines. and distribution of teaching materials. transformative intellectuals can bring their skills and talents to bear on vital forms of resistance at the local level. racial and sexual discrimination.g. particularly within the public schools. etc. Within this context. peace. we are arguing that teachers as transformative intellectuals need to become a movement marked by an active involvement in oppositional public spheres in which the primacy of the political is asserted anew. and that such sites cannot be seen as respectively representative for the development of theory and practice. share their work with others. collective writing . nuclear power. consumer fraud. read.

and in doing so. 2. and ageism that permeate all levels of schooling. One of the few analysis that takes the role of teachers seriously is: Theodore Sizer. 1983). and other related disciplines. sociology. combat mystification. . pp. and democratic planning. D. Carnegie Corporation of New York. 108. 3. racism. The discourse of crisis in public education has been dealt with in a series of reports and books. Paradigm and Ideology in Educational Research (Philadelphia and London: The Falmer Press. High School: A Report on American Secondary Education (New York: Harper & Row.Boyer. gives new meaning to the pedagogical and political necessity of creating the conditions for emancipatory forms of self and social empowerment among both educators and students. It is a struggle worth waging.” Language Arts 61:5 (September 1984). 1984). Education and Economic Progress: Toward a National Educational Policy (New York: Carnegie Corp. 1983). 1984). take popular experience seriously as part of the learning process..: Houghton Mifflin. 1983). Ernest L. 1983). Action for Excellence: A Comprehensive Plan to Improve our Nation’s Schools (Denver: Education Commission of the States. 1983). The discourse of the transformative intellectual takes the issues of community and liberation seriously. Twentieth Century Fund Task Force on Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Policy. A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform (Washington. they will also have to struggle simultaneously against the ingrained values of competition. and help students to reorder the raw experiences of their lives through the perspectives opened up by history. Task Force on Education for Economic Growth. 484–93. Mass. The College Entrance Examination Board. Such a discourse will be able to relate language and power. patriarchy. Thomas S. 1983).. individualism. It is within conditions marked by popular control over bureaucratization that new spaces will open for creative and reflective discourse and action. philosophy. A Place Called School: Promise for the Future (New York: McGraw-Hill. John Goodlad. p. “Mastery Learning in Reading and the Control of Teachers and Students. 1984). An example of this trend in the teaching of reading through a mastery learning approach can be found in Patrick Shannon. NOTES 1. Horace’s Compromise: The Dilemma of the High School (Boston.The Transformative Intellectual 43 and research. Academic Preparation for College (New York: College Entrance Examination Board. Making the Grade (New York: Twentieth Century Fund.C. including the following: The National Commission on Excellence.Popkewitz.

11–23. Michael Apple. Andrew Wake. 1981.McCarty (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. op. 9. op.” Educational Theory 30:1 (Winter 1980). K. 307–319. 488. 6. 7. Captains of Consciousness (New York: McGraw-Hill. 18. pp. Officials Say.” Unpublished manuscript.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Reading Association. 4. p. M. see Max Horkheimer. 14. Herbert Kleibard. William S. “Bureaucracy. see also Jürgen Habermas. especially chapter 7. op. Kenneth M. Patrick Shannon. David Tyack. “Alternative Paradigms on Teacher Education. Ideology. 16. Power. 20. 1972). 1974). 11. 1981. Culture and the Process of Schooling. Herbert Marcuse. “Research Focus of Education Doctorate Is Too IIIDefined.Sliva and S.Giroux.: Harvard University Press. 1974). “Prometheus/Bound: Knowledge. Mass. See Joel Spring. 1964).” Journal of Teacher Education 34:3 (May–June 1983). July 1979. 19. For a specific critique of the legacy of positivist thought and its influence on educational theory and practice see Henry Giroux.Zeichner. 10. 3–9. Zeichner. Canberra. “The Question of Teacher Education” New Perspectives on Teacher Education.Winkler..Jones. 1973). 1975). ed. Stuart Ewen. Richard Bates. p. Education and Power (Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul. p.44 Education Under Siege 4. 11. p. Ideology. D. “University Scholarship and the Education of Teachers. Ltd. p. 5. Karen J. Chapter 5. p. 16. Theory and Practice (Boston: Beacon Press. cit. 12. “Chicago Mastery Learning Reading: Mastery Learning Instruction and Assessment in Inner City Schools. 66–76.F.” Educational Theory 43:4 (Fall 1984). Michael Apple.” Paper presented at the conference of the Sociological Association of Australia and New Zealand. 1984). “School Knowledge and the Structure of Bureaucracy. Professionalism and Knowledge: Structures of Authority and Structures of Control. 1984)..Slaughter.Patricia Cross. pp. 2. “The Political Economy of Text Publishing. 21. “The Rising Tide of School Reform Reports. Critique of Instrumental Reason (New York: Seabury Press. For a general critique of positivism. 8. pp.” Phi Delta Kappan 66:3 (November 1984). p. University of Toronto.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 29:11 (November 7. 11. 7. E.Foster. pp.Katims and B. The Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York: Herder and Herder. 15.” Educational Research and Perspectives 7:2 (1980). Culture and the Process of Schooling (Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. Israel Scheffler. 1982). 1973). “The Changing Administrator: Developing Managerial Praxis. and the Transformation of American Social Science. 11. 1865–1920. 1972). New Orleans. . cit. 13.” Teachers College Record 70:1 (1968). 17. The One Best System (Cambridge. cit. Henry A. Education and the Rise of the Corporate State (Boston: Beacon Press. One Dimensional Man (Boston: Beacon Press. p.T.

p. 30. 27. The Politics of Education (South Hadley. Karl Mannheim.” New Political Science 1:2/3 (1979). 1984). Mass. and trans. pp. 26. Volume 1: Reason and the Rationalization of Society (Boston: Beacon Press. “Marxism and the Role of Intellectuals. 7–23. Herbert Kohl. Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (New York: Random House. 1936).. “From Red to Green. For Gramsci. 1971). “Symposium on the Role of the intellectual in the 1980s. “Examining Closely What We Do.Hoare and G.. radical organic intellectuals provide the pedagogical and political skills that are necessary to raise political awareness in the working class in order to help the members of that class to develop leadership skills and to engage in collective struggle. p. pp. (Boston: Beacon Press. 50 (Winter 1981–1982).” The Insurgent Sociologist 8:1 (Winter 1978). 29. Gramsci.The Transformative Intellectual 45 22.” Telos 59 (Spring 1984). 16. in this case. 35–44. Paulo Freire. The Theory of Communicative Action. 24. op. Antonio Gramsci. More specifically. pp.Smith (New York: International Publishers. 33. 28.: Bergin and Garvey Publishers. radical intellectuals also attempt to provide the moral and intellectual leadership of a specific class. 25. 1984). Knowledge and Human Interests. “Intellectuals and the Working Class. Jürgen Habermas. the working class. 1968). 29. cit. ed. see Carl Boggs. 116. For an overview of this debate. . Selections from the Prison Notebooks.” Learning (August 1983).” Telos No. Paul Piccone. 1963). 31. The problems that confront the making of such alliances are analyzed in: Ferenc Feher and Agnes Heller. Erik Olin Wright. Q. 5–18. Richard Hofstadter. 23. Ideology and Utopia (New York: Harvest Book. 32. Ibid.


According to Horkheimer. founder of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research. though empirical 47 . Horkheimer cared deeply about the content of critical thought. In his view. It is no longer a question of whether ordinary discourse is able to deal effectively with issues of specific ideological and social content. but with the rise of fascism he became more concerned with the spectre of the end of reason itself. encompassing schools as well as communications. The restricted language and thought codes produced by the reduction of all thought to its technical dimensions reach far into the culture.THREE Mass Culture and Critical Pedagogy IN HIS BOOK The Eclipse of Reason. social action that transcends the struggle for justice within the empirically given rules of social organization and discourse is impossible. Within this grim paradigm. but also that fundamental changes in the “genetic” structures of humans had occurred such that individuation is foreclosed within the terms set by the system. the public as well as the private spheres of discourse. As Jürgen Habermas expressed it. Using the metaphor of the relation between the gene and the soma. the significance of the challenge posed by the massified culture industry to civilization consisted in its assault on the capacity to engage in critical thought as a meaningful form of social discourse. Max Horkheimer. the capacity of humans to distance themselves from the object in order to gain critical perspective upon their social world can no longer be taken for granted. the truncated imagination now appears natural. he argued that cultural commodities have not only produced a closed universe from which oppositional ideas are strictly excluded. When people lack such competence. provided one of the most succinct formulations of the problem engendered by mass culture. We need not detain ourselves in debate about the “scientific” content of Marcuse’s argument. the new situation raises the issue of the competence of people to effectively communicate ideational content. The issue is the capacity for theoretical or conceptual thought itself. Marcuse asserted the fundamental transformation of the individual in late capitalist society.

The research suggests a correlation of television watching (and consumption of mass culture in general) to a tendency towards literalness in thought. In their view. including those characterized as elite schools. Of course. Far from having its roots in the alleged runaway permissiveness that may be identified with the revival of progressive education in the 1960s. may be ascribed to a perception of many teachers that mass audience culture has disrupted the normal routes to learning. In our view the deeper problem is a gradual but relentless growth of anti-intellectualism in American life born in part of the traditional antipathy of American ideology to ideas themselves (but this aspect is not new) and partially stemming from the rise of what we will call a visual culture that has increasingly replaced other types of communication. neither Ohmann nor O’Neil denies that a more profound illiteracy has afflicted large segments of the American population. and the increasing difficulties experienced by children in performing abstract and logical functions.48 Education Under Siege evidence for his assertions can be adduced from recent psychological research showing a tendency towards narrowing of perception. Instead. They view the current avalanche of demands among parents and educators alike that schools return to the “basics” as a panic born of institutionalized racism that expresses both the economic crisis in American society and the specific upsurge of racism in American education. they have adduced evidence to show that the level of reading and writing among minorities as well as those who are “expected” to be literate has advanced slightly in the past decade. particularly English composition. Richard Ohmann and Wayne O’Neil have argued against the claim of growing illiteracy among college students. Here. disruptions of concept formation among school children.and four-year colleges. We believe the collective perception . the visual character of thought. The litany of complaints that surrounded teaching in the 1970s and early 1980s. Of course. No one can “prove” with statistics that cognition is in crisis. imitative patterns of child’s play. particularly the written and verbal forms. We will merely ask you to accept this as an hypothesis whose validity resides in the experience of many teachers in two. Their analysis points to a tendency to legitimate the closing of doors of higher education to minorities. there exists little hard evidence that those entering institutions of higher education are increasingly deficient in the skills of writing and reading. there are problems with the way the perception has been presented in popular and academic journals and other forms. the new illiteracy is connected neither with mindless liberalism nor with the specific attack upon racial minorities and women. the merging of thought with object seems to have become the new universal of human consciousness.

Students have a skeptical view. the problem of abstraction becomes a major barrier to analysis because students seem enslaved to the concrete. For those familiar with the environment of the college or university the condensed description may strike a fairly loud chord. Students are overwhelmed by the factuality of the observed world and have enormous difficulty making the jump to concepts which may controvert appearances. but also to ones like metaphor and metonymy. .” and other categories not available to the senses are endowed with the status of the real. If this metadescription is at all correct. students exemplify an extreme form of the empiricist epistemology. seems in eclipse.” “history. Finally.” that the ideas associated with critical thinking were beyond their preparation. we must admit envy. We refer not only to concepts that have obvious ideological content such as socialism and capitalism. In short. then what is at stake is even the liberal tradition of critical thought. Put succinctly. or even the logical principle of syllogism. much less the more radical effort to encourage social action. teachers notice that many have trouble making connections between two objects or sets of concepts that are not related to each other in an obvious manner. For those acquainted with the history of American and British philosophy. that is. may be employed to yield knowledge. or reason. whose particular existence defines its boundaries. reality is dissolved into objecthood.Mass Culture and Critical Pedagogy 49 of composition teachers confirms that what we will describe has reached nearly universal proportions. Moreover.” “capitalism. The critical project of learning. In our several years of teaching both social science and literature. Since critical thinking is the fundamental precondition for an autonomous and self-motivated public or citizenry. The explanation we will offer and our prescriptive remarks may be subject to debate since these are of a more speculative nature (and will be developed more systematically elsewhere). we have never met a class that did not complain with either bitterness or bewilderment that the “reading was too hard. For those who have never encountered the problem of concept formation among their students. students of all social classes exhibit a tendency towards literalness. “Object” here means that which appears to perception as “natural” or belonging to the social world. What the empiricists have claimed for the relation of knowing to the known is internalized as a rigid methodology of knowledge acquisition by many students. according to which things are not what they seem to be and abstract concepts such as “society. or even seem to boggle at the idea that the imagination. imperialism and national independence. seem unable to penetrate beyond the surfaces of things to reach down to those aspects of the object that may not be visible to the senses. that demand some leap beyond experience.

resulted in an educational complement to the specialization and degradation of the labor force in factories and offices. rather than a spirited effort to find ways to counter the tendency towards massive indifference to critical thinking. Long before the advent of mass audience culture on the present scale. However. even the relatively theoretical disciplines of science and mathematics are . cultural. theory and practice. and political forms. to have some impact. Dewey’s alleged instrumentalism. compared to the powerful institutions of mass audience culture. John Dewey and others who proposed a broad program of American education that stressed its democratic character certainly did not intend more than to find new ways to broaden the constituency for learning. As we mentioned in the previous chapter. And such democratic concern does not require a commitment to social change. and the self and society. Thus. especially as interpreted by educators. For it must be admitted at the outset that. and that students should both have fun and understand the practical application of what is learned. the process of concept formation. American ideology offered a model of both pedagogy and society that militantly denied the elementary axioms of European critical thought. The widely influential slogan “learning by doing” admittedly has its virtues in comparison to a European high culture that insisted upon the bifurcation of mental and manual labor. we wish to offer some explanation. On the other hand. Although we assume that the majority of those who disseminate through teaching and scholarship the enlightenment tradition of reason and critical theory accept as their essential goal the development of selfactivity among large numbers of persons in society. and the whole western philosophic tradition was questioned as somehow not relevant to the contemporary problems of democratic education. What is required is a deep caring about the structure of power in society and its wide distribution to all social classes. resulted in the development of a curriculum that. the present situation seems to have generated a deep sense of gloom among our colleagues. Part of the explanation for the despair lies in the enormity of the task. Before proceeding to some proposals.50 Education Under Siege its decline would threaten the future of democratic social. it is also the case that recent concern with the problem of literacy offers an opportunity to those who are prepared not to blame the students but to identify the issue in different terms. American educational theory in the twentieth century has been dominated by the idea that learning should be problem centered rather than traditionally concept centered. far from widening the base of the citizenry in the classical sense of the term. the efforts of college teachers can be viewed with some skepticism. the reality of abstractions that may have no useful consequences.

The degradation of labor. We are referring to patterns of interaction in ordinary situations that allow for a relatively autonomous system of interpersonal arguments. become the vehicles of inscription. It permeates every sphere of social existence. however. although sometimes mentioned. The “news” presented on television is not only ideologically inscribed by the biases of the network. is seldom stressed. and photography. The culture industry is indeed ubiquitous. Of course. populists. The vision is consistent with the breaking up of reality into interchangeable parts. In the absence of a popular democratic movement. neither school nor mass culture totally determines the learning process. its routinization by technology. Space and time. Television. But. elementary and secondary education has adopted methodologies that are at once fragmented. and offered alternatives to the . the degree to which mass audience culture has colonized the social space available to the ordinary person for reading. in the last half of the twentieth century. social sciences. It has manufactured a vision of the world. such as those that were once fostered by trade unions. is too well known to be repeated here at length. but is denied conceptual depth through the mode of discourse itself as well as the time frames for each story. But technological domination goes beyond the schools. have fostered the wide dissemination of industrialized entertainment so that the capacity of persons to produce their own culture in the widest meaning of the term has become restricted. that expresses together with popular art the frustrations and the aspirations of a people. but has its own moments of resistance. Nor would it be accurate to claim that the phenomenon of bread and circuses is a late capitalist product. especially the work situation and what we may designate as leisure activities. and socialists. antitheoretical. far from making culture democratic. The technicization of education cannot be blamed entirely for the phenomenon of conceptual illiteracy. to develop explanations of social events that may counter those that are considered authoritative. The theory of the operation. and skills-oriented. As for history. to the presentation of a world that seems impenetrable. even more than a series of entertainments. it was merely the working out of a broad vision of the world that may be characterized as the “mechanization of the world picture” or the triumph of nominalism in social perception.Mass Culture and Critical Pedagogy 51 taught in public schools in terms of a set of operations that will yield results. not only “messages” that have specific content. We mean the production of speech that modifies language socially. film. Consciousness is colonized by the culture industry. discussions. and critical thought must be counted as the major event of social history in our time. and language acquisition.

A widespread tendency of those who find themselves working in composition programs has been to interpret their presence as a sign of failure or. If writing is to become part of the critical process. are now battlegrounds that may help determine the shape of the future. Most students go through their classes as if in a dream. They are bemused by daily interaction as if it were the unreality. the record party. critical interrogation of popular music. The proliferation of composition programs at all levels of higher education may signal a new effort to extend the technicization process even further into the humanities. In other words the job of the teacher is to legitimate mass audience culture in order to criticize and transcend it. For those teachers who claim their personal indifference to these forms and refuse to validate their investigation. or to discover whether genuine expressive forms are repressed within it. then the spectacle in which they are caught must be deconstructed. the weight of mass audience culture upon the structure of consciousness becomes ever more powerful. For students have already spent more than a . and other mass cultural activities. and their non-media life is the fiction. We wish to suggest that schools. But if committed teachers wish to engage students. The splitting of composition as a course from the study of literature. deconstruction of mass audience culture is the first priority. Many of them live for the spectacle of the television show. is of course a sign of its technicization and should be resisted both because it is an attack against critical thought and because it results in demoralization of teachers and their alienation from work. and close scrutiny of film genres that approximate mass culture. The spectacle appears as the real world in which they wake up and participate in the process of living. We mean that writing could consist in the first place in analysis of TV shows of the most popular variety. A programmatic alternative to the splitting of writing into technical functions might begin by recognizing that if the task is to penetrate the apparently opaque “mind set” of students. they could begin their own education by learning how to examine the media as an intellectual activity of the highest importance. as a stopgap job before moving onto the teaching and research for which they have been trained: literary criticism or scholarship. instead of seeing it as an expressive and intellectual process. alternatively. especially the colleges and universities. one can only reply that such a stance may be tantamount to abandoning their students and the critical project as well. the rock concert. horror shows.52 Education Under Siege dominant culture. It is likely that those who choose this approach will encounter initial resistance by some students. such as disaster films. and adventures. For in the identification of the problem as one of “skills” there has developed a tendency to degrade writing to its functional boundaries.

schools. and family. ordinary existence may be truly intolerable. and other public spheres. Instead they are relegated to the twilight zone of “programs” or sometimes included in the regular departments in the person of an academic specialist who views the media as just one more object of investigation like literature or sociology. students can become quite involved in really looking at mass culture. The objects of mass cultural perception. the outlaw character of media studies is expressed as the refusal of administrations to endow these efforts with departmental standing. If what we have described is at all accurate. Having successfully demystified media content and seen how certain forms such as popular music provide only spurious satisfaction. To give up the “pleasure” of the mass cultural product is tantamount to giving up almost everything that provides a respite from alienated activity. which are sufficiently distanced by their historical character and academic legitimacy to make them easier to study. job market. but there is a perceived difference between those types of activity that are named “work” and those named “free time. the world of work. through analysis. the pleasure one gets from them may be painful.Mass Culture and Critical Pedagogy 53 dozen years learning what “real” school is.” The ideological content of the linguistic difference can only be discerned by analyzing the function of mass culture in everyday life. When safety valves of mass culture have been removed. At Staten Island College this aspect of the program entailed both a sociological and historical examination of these institutions and a personal examination of the ways individuals are influenced and try to . We find that students still have a traditional version of the three Rs as interpreted by their teachers. particularly those generated by the relatively uncertain love life. Music is employed by many persons as respite from anxieties produced by everyday life. Without prejudging the result. particularly rock music and television. Thus. There. then the teacher must persuade students of the significance of the study before the study may be meaningful to them. schools. Mass cultural forms have colonized the leisure time activities of youth so completely that giving up. students are still left to face daily life. Of course. in most colleges and universities. people jump from one form of alienation to another when they consume rather than produce their culture. are so close that getting critical distance from them requires even more intellectual and emotional effort than literature or math. At this point the investigation may shift to the family. mass culture does not appear to be a legitimate subject for investigation. But the problem is not solved merely by showing the ways in which television and other cultural industry products contain serious political and ideological content. our experiences demonstrate that after some balking. who also share their conception of the proper fields of education or research.

etc. and these can be looked at from the perspective of concepts. the reconstruction of critical thought may proceed since the examination of mass culture and social institutions within the context of personal experience has laid a groundwork for this step. and cultural issues. Students may also take a more comprehensive view of the culture. And it may go beyond the bureaucratic consignment of “freshman composition” or the humanities core course offered by most universities and colleges. Unless teachers are willing to help students . ways of interaction among persons. breaking out of the narrow perspective offered both by mass culture and by the literary studies that are legitimated in traditional colleges. For instance. The objects of critical thought become the economy. abstractions. At this juncture. the international relations of our country. The concept of culture becomes more anthropological. Yet we believe it is a realistic approach to these areas. What we have sketched may be an entire curriculum of critical thought. health issues. and the other. and of course language itself as a model for culture. attitudes and belief systems. that is. Children are more than willing to give up everyday life because it seems to represent experiences of almost unrelieved frustration. It is grounded in the ubiquitous character of mass audience culture and tries to take it out of the realm of just another academic specialty. The next projects concern political. students are writing about their lives and the mediations of experience that have stood between their conscious activity and the outside world. Internalizing the ideological and vocational expectations of the adult world becomes more difficult. students may write autobiographical essays that focus on conflicts between peer interaction and interaction with authorities such as parents and teachers. Here the influence of mass culture in narrowing the space between compulsion and freedom begins to appear as kids grow older. and the other categories of critical thought. Finally. records and spectator sports are available to divert them from the “real world. it includes all forms of human activity: human sexuality. They must now learn what is going on (and how to find out) beyond the personal sphere. The spiral character of critical thought is demonstrated by a return to everyday relations. and corresponds to the contemporary situation of most students at all levels of higher education. arguments. We discovered that almost all students grow up in two worlds: one of school and family where they feel that they are not in control of their lives. with friends and by themselves. but on a new level of abstraction as well as specificity.” institutional life is tolerable. race and sex discrimination. social. ideologies. which they see as more autonomous.54 Education Under Siege struggle within them. evidence. but as long as radio and TV. labor conflicts.

.Mass Culture and Critical Pedagogy 55 make everyday life and the social world more urgent than the spectacles of the culture industry. This is a theme we will return to in the last chapter of this book. but before doing so we want to comment on the underlying ideology and interest that has shaped what we call the “instrumentalist reform movement” in education in the last few decades. they cannot address the transformation of persons into anomic consumers. It is to this issue that we will now turn.


that certain problems of the schools could at least be ameliorated. succeeded in forcing a modicum of school reform in the public sector from the outside. the conservative Boards felt their backs to the wall: enrollments were exploding. In most cities. especially those from minority communities and the remaining white middle classes in the cities.FOUR The Literacy Crisis: A Critique and Alternative A DECADE AGO. education officials in cities and towns throughout the country had decided that it was necessary to create alternative elementary and secondary schools within the established order. The legitimacy of schools as educational institutions was challenged by low attendance and plummeting test scores. Practical innovations dotted the landscape. an all too familiar theme in the 1980s. They were simply persuaded. These skills deficits were defined as literacy as well as good work habits. The metaphor of siege was widely employed to describe the atmosphere in the schools with teachers steadily losing ground to more confident young guerilla warriors. experimentalism from Montessori to free schools. Parents. big city Boards of Education moved into the new decade with plans to encourage neighborhoods and educators to begin experiments in alternative high schools as well. Neil 57 . began demanding educational changes. if not solved by educational innovations. the content of which remained unspecified. Employers and colleges complained that applicants lacked the needed skills to perform jobs or do “college” work. At the beginning of the 1970s. The motivating power for starting these programs was by no means altruistic or a far-sightedness by educational professionals. American education seemed on the verge of a renaissance commensurate to the era of progressivism of the 1920s and 1930s. Building on the example of the community-controlled districts in New York elementary and junior high schools. but school attendance was dropping among many segments of the cities’ high school population. either by the example of successful projects outside the system or the eloquence of educational planners and critics. often student controlled.

which opened for students in February 1971. We attributed its inadequacy merely to the fact that it was imposed from above. and the failure of the schools to inspire teachers to dedicated pedagogy. we made no political analysis of the reasons the old curriculum was inadequate or administration had become arbitrary. At Park East we shared all of the misconceptions of the rest of the movement. The nature of the experiment was not clear at the outset and. Each of these boundaries presented difficulties for the Committee for a Comprehensive Education (the group endowed with the essential power to organize the school). Jonathan Kozol and other “radical” writers may not have become gurus for the establishment. Our view was that the curriculum and governance had to (a) be relevant to students’ lives by becoming more practical without succumbing to the anti-intellectualism of vocational education. was never clarified beyond a few well-worn cliches: this was to be a “community” controlled school within the limits set by state and city laws governing such issues as credentials for teachers. (b) become less rigid to allow students a wider range of learning options. importantly. parents and liberal reformers on New York’s upper east side and East Harlem who managed to extract a mandate from the Board to start an experimental public high school. the requirement that the head of the school be qualified by Board licensure. indeed. As the decade wore on. without regard to student needs. reflected a pervasive retreat among progressive forces. (c) involve students as well as parents in the processes of school governance. In short. In March 1970. Of course.58 Education Under Siege Postman. we . but their ideas were seriously considered in the quest for stability in schools. is the story of the demise of the new progressivism which accompanied the beginning of the 1970s. it was not only a changed political climate that ultimately undermined the forward march of educational reform. the rise of the new conservatism in educational policy. But it was not bureaucratic restrictions that played the major role in transforming the school from a promising experiment into a slightly more gentle version of New York City public high school. Although the political climate of rebellion and reform that marked the 1960s was responsible for the impulse for change. minimum requirements expected of students and. George Dennison. It was a combination of wrongheaded concepts among most educational innovators that were easily refuted or at least repudiated by the opposition. their authoritarian style of leadership. Stanley Aronowitz joined a small staff of educational planners. The story of Park East High School. We attributed alienation to the “straight curriculum” of the public schools. An effective counterattack by the conservatives at the ideological level must be held accountable for the reversals that have marked the recent past.

and political support from parents and other community organizations. At no time in our ruminations over the crisis in learning did it occur to us that the problem might be broader than the power of the schooling environment. Alternative education in the sixties and early seventies was a way to find a safety valve to place the most active. college admission criteria and employers. would reverse the tendency of schooling to grow more distant from education. at the same time. We became unwitting agents (when successful) of the need for a new middle class of ghetto administrators. Despite the boom engendered by the Vietnam War. Hispanic and working class white students from schools was their perception that the routes to opportunities to escape ghetto life were paved with nails. Yet. made the claim that such an orientation had outcomes that would satisfy the concerns of parents. Moreover. a way to avoid the heavily guarded prison-like atmosphere of regular high schools. Most of them never saw the inside of these weird places and for many who did. It was also a way to return them to the mainstream as trained professionals who acted as mediators between their communities and the corridors of power. the lives of those stuck in sub-working class communities was little changed by Great Society programs.The Literacy Crisis 59 accepted the canons of student-centered education but. we were wrong. We claimed that students could master the three Rs without recourse to teaching and curriculum styles that “turned them off. Of course school reformers and innovators in that period were dimly aware that among the reasons for the estrangement of black. stores and government agencies. All the alternative school movements accomplished was to give a few kids the chance to climb into the black or Hispanic middle class which. We assumed that good teachers and excited students. For the mass of the disenfranchised the alternative schools were confusing. and sub-professionals in education and social welfare sectors. we were believers in the power of schools to provide these communities with a fair chance in the scramble for mobility for those historically excluded from the ball park much less allowed to play the game. minority corporate public relations men and women. was the objective of Great Society programs. We knew that there was reason for kids to doubt that a degree from high school would pay off in concrete economic terms. the free or alternative school was a scam. They were living proof to the community of the reality of mobility promises and simultaneously interpreters of community needs to the powerful.” We accepted the implicit assumption that a “caring” learning environment was often the sufficient condition for motivating students to learning. Of course. in the last analysis. disruptive and talented kids away from the mainstream. after a few years it became painfully obvious that free schools . line supervisors in plants. given their autonomy by an activist but non-directive administration.

” Among these the writing of E. The non-directive character of the school ambience abetted the self-motivated. it was a way of knowing. In the manner of some modern students of language. Today free schools are no longer in evidence. to permit a ten year old to remain a nonreader. the new drive for literacy found theoretical legitimacy in the unity of utterance and thought.Hirsch was particularly refreshing because it attempted to incorporate the notion of standards into the concept of rhetoric akin to ancient meanings: rhetoric was not a means of persuasion alone. the principles of these experiments exist as “traces” within a system that is moving rapidly towards a definition of educational excellence that antedates the older progressivism. according to advocates of “basic” education. Administrators and teachers who had furiously tried to “retool” in the hectic sixties breathed a sigh of relief and set out to invent a new ideology of learning which stressed “standards. Using the rhetoric of the civil rights movement’s anti-elitism. educational conservatism took over in the mid1970s leaving fervent ideologues of educational reform bewildered and ashamed.D. expression had a cognitive content. Only a reversion to the old curriculum could remedy the situation. the nadir of industrial work and its replacement by administrative and technical labor. when the child was black or Hispanic. The schools are being mobilized to insure the reproduction of a society as a . Progressive Education. those for whom traditional schools were actually a retardant. The conservatives’ insistence that standard English simply connotated the appropriate thought content against colloquialism that was fraught with illogicality. The “new curriculum” devalues social learning as a content in education. convinced both professionals and laypeople that these hard times of stiffening competition for fewer jobs. Like the earlier movement. replacing this notion with a much more direct concept: social reproduction. But for many who needed a reason to become educated in the ways of industrial or postindustrial society. and the dropping performance of students in schools demanded the end to a crippling permissiveness that had held sway for a decade. Soon even those who began the free school movement were uttering their mea culpas. Thus. a refusal of the ideas of such sociolinguists as William Labov who argued that forms of black speech could be transcoded into logical thought commensurable in every respect with canonical expression. The experiments came to a more or less abrupt ending in the public sector as some of its opponents mounted an effective attack on the ground that it was immoral.60 Education Under Siege were designed for the linguistically literate. and even racist. there was nothing self-evident about either the canons of mathematical calculation or of bourgeois humanistic traditions. They have been incorporated as vestigial structures into “alternative” programs or schools within conventional systems.

Or to be more exact. Now. teachers. There are two main things to be said about the current state of education before discussing its future. experience-based pedagogy is grounded in a theory of learning which argues that the separation of form and content and specifically. Goal-oriented learning that goes beyond intellectual achievement and enters the realm of status honor. has now become more overt. The old liberalism had swept the rebellion of the young against the arbitrary authority of school officials under the rug by labelling the rebels “hyperkinetic” (a reference to the growing use of psychological categories to eliminate opposition from the subject-objects of schooling. preparing students to take their place in the corporate order as disciplined. Of course. it must be admitted that the military model of learning works. one would have to renounce critical thought as a goal of education or the effort to establish a democratic society in order to get kids to read and write under this regime. job advancement and personal pride has already been adopted by the schools as one of the fragmented parts of progressivism consistent with their objectives. critical . The conservative onslaught argued explicitly for a restoration of old modes of administrative authority within schools.” Moreover. and parents hold firm: “You shall learn because we say so. First. In short. To be sure. but not for its own sake. But the new conservative curriculum has posed a serious challenge to the epistemological assumptions of liberal educators. Punishment is an effective tool of the reproduction of a hierarchical order. Instead the cry “illiteracy” became the rubric under which all forms of repression were subsumed. particularly the ideas of learning by doing and its view that authority relations that are not legitimated by democratic means are barriers to learning. America is the land of opportunity only if you do what we say. it is curtains for a decent life. if you don’t. it is perfectly true that progressives have placed entirely too much faith in its elementary principles. as well as one in which its subjects possess competencies. the bifurcation of knowledge from its consequences is deleterious to learning. the “hidden curriculum” of American education. subordinate workers. The counterattacks against the old new progressivism went much further than trying to correct some weaknesses in that palpably middle class educational paradigm.The Literacy Crisis 61 whole. it cannot be said that it has any major influence over the curriculum. The new order argues that the authority of the word can be imposed without the crutch of instrumentalism if only the administration. The new conservatives found in “permissiveness” (an explicit attack against liberal notions of rehabilitation and against the critique of authority as a causal agent of the school crisis) a convenient target for justifying the return to the old order. Even though the slogan “critical thinking” has not disappeared from the discourse. the young).

What can be more relevant to the lives of students than a curriculum that stresses job preparation in an era that limits opportunities and is. If jobs with mobility chances become scarce in the next decade. is the concentration of schools on technical subjects. At a time when colleges face declining enrollments. A grotesque appropriator of the surface ideology of the old progressivism. The second problem with the old liberal model is that it was based on the assumption of an expanding economy. two consequences might follow. In this sense the conservatism program in the new conditions may be far more effective than a liberal position might offer. at the same time. So. Learning how to pass the exam and getting good recommendations from school authorities take on pronounced importance.” Even many liberals would agree with their antagonists that colleges are no place for the illiterate. The subordination of literature and history to “skills” acquisition. and the introduction of “hands on” computer training in the lower grades is all justified as a type of learning by doing as much as a different answer to the cry for relevance that pierced traditional curricula in the sixties and early seventies. Those who do not respond to the military/basic education model would be adjudged genetically (in the metaphoric sense of the word) incompetent. In this culture competitive practices in all spheres and examinations are accorded preeminence as a criterion of competence. increasingly oriented to technique? The new conservativism.” but because those who . one that may not be held as a basis for educational policy in the future. just as in the days before modern progressivism. not because of the famous “demographic shift. in short. Another consequence is the cleaning out of colleges and universities of those students who have been admitted under affirmative action programs including those called “open admissions. the most recent policy has begun to exclude liberal arts from the lower rungs of the schooling hierarchy. Here the ideas of Plato’s Republic seem already to have gained some currency among educators. tightening admissions criteria made necessary by fiscal crises (themselves the result of economic decline) will reduce the initiative of students in lower grades to seek higher education.62 Education Under Siege and democratic ideas would be produced as an outcome of the rebellion of kids against the authoritarian school. preys on the anxiety of a generation that has finally got the news that America in the new era is Hard Times. whether they like them or not. One that is already upon us is that students who believe they have acquired some literacy and cultural skills at home will become more obedient to school authorities and their methods. Even more pronounced than the tracking system. strengthening the moves towards a further vocationalization of education in the primary and secondary schools.

On the other hand. concepts such as standards. and reduction of skills in the job market. First. What of the decade that is already upon us? We are in for a heavy dose of the new technicalization of the curriculum corresponding to development within the labor market. All the conservatives had to do was redefine the meaning of a few terms and combine them in a new alternative education model which displaced progressivism as the vanguard of educational reform. The movement triumphed on the basis of its claim that neither the traditional nor its alternative curricula were relevant to the new age. the fact that entry level jobs proliferate faster than any others in the new technology and these require a minimum of training because scientific knowledge (not taught in the back-to-basics movement) is inscribed in a few machines and not in their operation. If the size of state colleges and universities does not shrink. it will be a measure of the degree to which they can make their programs more practical (real job preparation orientated). as much as learning by doing. On the one hand. There is an irony here. if the former suffers from its other-wordliness. There are many issues encapsulated in this back-to-basics movement. the new learning ideology is encountering a major overhaul of . Thus. basic math. More importantly. vocabulary. But the dominant mode of inquiry that had led to writing and composition programs at all levels. Yet. will be to remove the elements of critical thinking that are inscribed in the traditional curricula. etc. The argument of the new conservatives hinge on the appropriation of progressive ideology as much as its repudiation. Those who design. in both ideological and formal terms. particularly the rapid spread of practically oriented vocational and technical education. the latter’s practical claims are defeated by the incredible degradation. Second. even the institutions of higher learning are attempting to become “relevant” rather than remain academic. maintain and market these machines are a relatively small proportion of the labor force. The whole task set by contemporary educational policy is to keep up with rapidly shifting developments in technology. say administrators. gallop) towards a reversal of the old liberal education. The only generalizing emphasis that has conquered so far is the now generally accepted campaign to improve reading and writing skills. segmentation. focus on parts of speech. The free or alternative school movement rose on the flag of relevance. the theoretical assumptions of the new gurus of the movement are not commensurate with the ideology upon which the movement rests. there are some ‘doings’ underway in high schools. and focused on the three Rs is highly abstract. learning by doing is repudiated by reference to rhetorical studies. a major consequence of the drift (no.The Literacy Crisis 63 might enter are persuaded by the argument that the liberal arts offer no definite payoff.

Neither the old way. The issues in a society wishing to widen participation in its key decisions is whether these can be grasped by ordinary people. Most Janeys and Johnnys can follow written orders. and reading and writing are essential elements of this process. taxpayers’ revolts. teaching has become nightmarish.64 Education Under Siege educational resources in America. Of course. But. of course. More importantly. the changes in our lives underway as a result of decisions made at the political level. But the military model cannot insure democratic participation. it encourages subordination of a conceptually illiterate population whose skills extend to the technical plane. and economic instability. There is. The other . Many classrooms are overcrowded. read newspapers and make calculations in hundreds of thousands of jobs. the alternative movement or the neo-conservatism back-to-basics movement propose to deal with the problem of citizenship. They are able to follow orders under the direction of managements that are responsive to bureaucracies and capital. On the contrary. especially those parts of it suffering chronic privation are changing. Our problems are preeminently public ones. Some aspects of this question reside in elementary skills. a serious problem with the literacy of the American people. for the most part. a slogan that is oriented to promoting fear and anxiety so that a new wave of school policy may be accepted. who can think through what’s going on in the world. and the dangerous centralization of power in American life. the changes in our ways of working and living. to determine how and what should be produced and by whom. In the wake of sharply higher defense costs. this is a misplaced emphasis. the formation of a public that acts for itself. but unable to examine critically public and private life. lack books and other materials and are led by administrators and teachers who are weary after years of constant warfare and upheaval caused not so much by the kids as by the budget cutters.1 Our problem is. for the gulf between the private and the public is no longer so wide that one may pursue his destiny without regard to institutional and political choices. and to make the public choices that become policy. the quest for literacy is paramount in any democratic society. The illiteracy to which we refer can only be addressed in the context of social movements which wish to make serious social changes. but for more important reasons. Self-management of society at the political as well as social and economic levels requires a population possessed of detailed and complex knowledge of scientific and technological processes as well as the elements of policy. not so much for vocational reasons (it’s only during growth periods that genuine skills become in short supply). the relation of the United States to the rest of the world.

as Paul Willis has shown. and to see how these may be changed by changing the ways people have conceptualized them over time. to discover the sense in which we have all been formed within the context of material practices of which schools as well as discourses are an essential aspect. And. not a student-centered practical step. It is bound up with social relations. natural world. or to be more exact. “standards” oriented proposals of conservative education cannot suffice. one that insists that students must learn to examine their own lives. In a country lacking the conditions for rapid economic growth or the motivating force to accept a highly militarized educational process as grounds for learning. Critical education then proposes. as it were. But given the objective of democracy. language itself has a structure that must be mastered.” not the form of life. but also in the process of rebelling against the institutions that have the dominance over our existence. the concept of relevance requires still another specification. the abstract.3 The task of critical thinking. Therefore. To be sure. has embarked on such a campaign with revolutionary participation as the fundamental argument. the politics of learning itself. does not end with the recognition that we are part of the system that has shaped us. The most recent example.2 This of course does not relieve educators of the responsibility to address specifically cognitive issues. Language learning is a way of distancing oneself from the self-evident. It may be that the autobiographical mode of inquiry is a way to help students discover their own relation to school and to language. language is—“a form of life. of course. the only alternative is to argue for literacy on radical foundations.The Literacy Crisis 65 model of rapid learning for whole populations is the ideological model. entwined with the ways of the world of which it is both an expression and through which the world lives. but one that can only be directed. self-formation does not occur merely mimetically. peer relations and mass culture are not merely activities or institutions “out there” but become fragments of that praxis by which we form ourselves. . But as Wittgenstein has remarked. They may see the ways in which the texts of everyday life such as family. the ways in which they have been part of the system of social reproduction. our structural capacity to transform grammar must be given an environment that transforms itself into the symbolic forms of speech and writing and this task is somewhat distinct from practical and social applications. from without by persons (teachers) who share the goals of the students. Nicaragua. Teachers are better able to guide students towards historical understanding and a critical scientific knowledge of the social and external. Democratic self-determination of all social institutions has been adequate as a spur to incredible advances in literacy conceived in both senses discussed here.

obtained from the contradictory sources of mass culture and peer interaction. have been voiceless in this culture except in popular forms such as play and song (even commercial music allows the voice of the young to shine forth). that technological domination subsumes all but a small avant-garde in recent art. is defined not merely as a system of values and beliefs inculcated from above. Critical education remembers that students. Rather the job is to help students see ideology as lived experience. hope in their collective powers to change the world so that democratic power replaces corporate control. but it does not follow that the learning environment of schools may either abdicate to students or impose standards from without. music. some of these criticisms have been . This entails both a critical stance towards their already acquired voice. an ideological education that wishes to critically examine its own presuppositions must show the ways in which ideology. Thus the antinomy between critical education and neo-conservatism does not engage at the level of the struggle for literacy. The critical movement (still incipient but possessing some critical mass) reverses the causal relation. To combat this inequality students require knowledge (of which skills are derivative) and. which is not the same as the old concept of student centeredness. but it is less a question of functional illiteracy than historical and critical/conceptual illiteracy. Voicelessness presupposes powerlessness. low income and insecurity resides with the individual. most of all. especially working-class and third world kids. of course. This view corresponds to Paulo Freire’s notion of dialogic education. The trend of current education policy seeks to persuade us that the basics movement can solve the economic crisis for students since it assumes that the problem of dead-end jobs. Of course. as to Keats as a priori superior to anything produced today by popular lyrics in songs. their voice must receive validation.66 Education Under Siege And. If the objective of education is to empower students intellectually and. to some extent emotionally. and second. painting. and then to be willing to learn from students. For those who despair that students may no longer yield with awe and wonder to the lyrical Keats because the poison of our technological culture has occluded such a possibility have already entered a judgment which is at once problematic on two counts: first. as well as an effort to enrich this voice with historical and critical dimension. Functional illiteracy is produced by the constitution of the job market by economic and social inequality and political powerlessness. The first responsibility of the educator is to validate the experience of the student. Critical education agrees that the problem exists. and social interaction without regard to distinctions between great canonical literature and the art of contemporary popular forms. in literature. including her aesthetic experience.

1979– 1984 (Managua. 3. NOTES 1. . Ministerio de Educacion.Willis. See Jonathan Kozol. But their criticisms have been characterized by some significant theoretical problems. P. 1977).The Literacy Crisis 67 presupposed by various radical educators. Learning to Labour. Illiterate America (New York: Doubleday. Cinco Años de Education la Revolution. 2. 1984). and it is to this issue to which we will now turn to in the next chapter. 1985). Nicaragua: Government Printing. (England: Saxon House.


FIVE Reproduction and Resistance in Radical Theories of Schooling IN THE LAST decade. they have used it as the theoretical foundation for developing a critical science of education. schools as institutions could only be understood through an analysis of their relationship to the state and the economy. therefore…produces not only commodities. how they legitimated capitalist rationality and sustained dominant social practices. Moreover. the task has been only partially successful. radical educators saw the objectives of schooling quite 69 . the deep structure or underlying significance of schooling could only be revealed through analyzing how schools functioned as agencies of social and cultural reproduction—that is. Instead of abstracting schools from the dynamics of inequality and class-race-gender modes of discrimination. radical educators blamed the dominant society. Karl Marx’s concept of reproduction has been one of the major organizing ideas informing socialist theories of schooling. but it also produces and reproduces the capitalist relation. and the distribution of skills needed to reproduce the social division of labor. radical educators have argued that the main functions of schools are the reproduction of the dominant ideology. social mobility. Instead of blaming students for educational failure. on the other the wagelabourer. its forms of knowledge. schools were considered central agencies in the politics and processes of domination. a process of reproduction…. Contrary to the claims of liberal theorists and historians that public education offers possibilities for individual development. In contrast to the liberal view of education as the great equalizer. on the one side the capitalist.2 Thus far. In this view. Marx states that “every social process of production is.”1 Radical educators have given this concept a central place in developing a critique of liberal views of schooling. Capitalist production. In the radical perspective. at the same time. and political and economic power to the disadvantaged and dispossessed. not only surplus-value.

As Paul Willis states.70 Education Under Siege differently. More specifically. race. and by insuring their personal underdevelopment.5 the culture of the school and the class-defined cultures of the students who attend them. These concerns have focused on analyses of the relationships between schooling and the workplace.6 and the relationship among the economic. schools were portrayed as reproductive in three senses. radical educators presented a serious challenge to the discourse and logic of liberal views of schooling. schools were viewed as part of a state apparatus that produced and legitimated the economic and ideological imperatives that underlie the state’s political power.7 Reproduction theory and its various explanations of the role and function of education have been invaluable in contributing to a broader understanding of the political nature of schooling and its relation to the dominant society. functioning in part to distribute and legitimate forms of knowledge. But they did more than that. Far from productive roles in the economy simply waiting to be ‘fairly’ filled by the products of education. Schools were stripped of their political innocence and connected to the social and cultural matrix of capitalist rationality. students. reproduction accounts of schooling have continually patterned themselves after structuralfunctionalist versions of Marxism which stress that history is made . Education’s main purpose of the social integration of a class society could be achieved only by preparing most kids for an unequal future. First. and repressive functions of the state and how they affect school policies and practices. ideological.”3 In our view. “Education was not about equality. and modes of style that constitute the dominant culture and its interests. schools were seen as reproductive in the cultural sense. Second. the ‘Reproduction’ perspective reversed this to suggest that capitalist production and its roles required certain educational outcomes. values. Reproduction theorists have overemphasized the idea of domination in their analysis and have failed to provide any major insights into how teachers. language. In effect. but inequality….4 classspecific educational experiences and the job opportunities that emerge for different social groups. Radical reproduction theorists have used these forms of reproduction to fashion a number of specific concerns that have shaped the nature of their educational research and inquiry. and other human agents come together within specific historical and social contexts in order to both make and reproduce the conditions of their existence. But it must be stressed that the theory has not achieved its promise to provide a comprehensive critical science of schooling. Third. schools provided different classes and social groups with the knowledge and skills they needed to occupy their respective places in a labor force stratified by class. They also tried to fashion a new discourse and set of understandings around the reproduction thesis. and gender.

Thus. these analyses give central importance to the notions of conflict.8 Combining ethnographic studies with more recent European cultural studies. and resistance.9 In effect. Rather. these theories not only dissolve human agency. Of . Recent research on schooling in the United States. schools represent contested terrains marked not only by structural and ideological contradictions but also by collectively informed student resistance.Radical Theories of Schooling 71 “behind the backs” of the members of society. compliantly submitting to the dictates of authoritarian teachers and schools that prepare them for a life of deadening labor. and competing class ideologies. teachers and students alike act merely as pawns and role bearers constrained by the logic and social practices of the capitalist system. they unknowingly provide a rationale for not examining teachers and students in concrete school settings. resistance theorists have attempted to demonstrate that the mechanisms of social and cultural reproduction are never complete and always meet with partially realized elements of opposition. They point not only to the role that students play in challenging the most oppressive aspects of schools but also to the ways in which students actively participate through oppositional behavior in a logic that very often consigns them to a position of class subordination and political defeat. schools are often viewed as factories or prisons. The idea that people do make history. human subjects generally “disappear” amidst a theory that leaves no room for moments of self-creation. has been neglected. and resistance. Indeed. including its constraints. mediation. struggle. Organized around what we loosely label as resistance theory. dominant and subordinant cultures. reproduction theories offer little hope for challenging and changing the repressive features of schooling. One of the most important assumptions of resistance theory is that working-class students are not merely the by-product of capital. This research emphasizes the importance of human agency and experience as the theoretical cornerstones for analyzing the complex relationship between schools and the dominant society. In other words. Europe. they miss the opportunity to determine whether there is a substantial difference between the existence of various structural and ideological modes of domination and their actual unfolding and effects. By downplaying the importance of human agency and the notion of resistance. tracking. These accounts often leave us with a view of schooling and domination that appears to have been pressed out of an Orwellian fantasy. schools are social sites characterized by overt and hidden curricula. as we pointed out in previous chapters. resistance theorists have developed a theoretical framework and method of inquiry that restores the critical notion of agency. By ignoring the contradictions and struggles that exist in schools. and Australia has both challenged and attempted to move beyond reproduction theories.

schools are relatively autonomous institutions that not only provide spaces for oppositional behavior and teaching but also represent a source of contradictions that sometimes make them dysfunctional to the material and ideological interests of the dominant society. there are never any guarantees that capitalist values and ideologies will automatically succeed. schools still strongly define their role via their function as agencies for social mobility even though they currently turn out graduates at a faster pace than the economy’s capacity to employ them. schools are characterized by diverse forms of school knowledge. Moreover. Moreover. Put another way. in this case. whether working class or otherwise. is constituted as much by the group itself as by the dominant society. and ideological sites that exist somewhat independently of the capitalist market economy. cultural. instead of being homogeneous institutions operating under the direct control of business groups. conflict and resistance take place within asymmetrical relations of power which always favor the dominant classes. race. but the essential point is that there are complex and creative fields of resistance through which class-. “In the final analysis. Such cultures are forged within constraints shaped by capital and its institutions. In addition. and dismiss the central messages of the schools. whether they be economic. schools operate within limits set by society. and geared to the logic of the marketplace. human praxis is not determined by its preconditions. Whereas reproduction theorists focus almost exclusively on power and how the dominant culture ensures the consent and defeat of subordinate classes and groups. schools sometimes support a notion of liberal education that is in sharp contradiction to the dominant society’s demand for forms of education that are specialized. they are contradictory in nature and bear the marks of both resistance and reproduction. ideological. organizational styles. Thus. but they function in part to influence and shape those limits. Of course.72 Education Under Siege course. For instance. In resistance accounts. theories of resistance restore a degree of agency and innovation to the cultures of these groups. but the conditions within which such constraints function vary from school to school and from neighborhood to neighborhood. Schools are not solely determined by the logic of the workplace or the dominant society. partake of moments of self-production as well as reproduction.”10 . Culture. regardless of how strongly they set the agenda. Subordinate cultures. schools often exist in a contradictory relation to the dominant society. and classroom social relations. they are not merely economic institutions but are also political. alternately supporting and challenging its basic assumptions. ideologies. instrumental.and gender-mediated practices often refuse. reject. or political. such as schools. only the boundaries of possibility are given in advance.

in spite of more complex modes of analysis. in doing so. examining their theoretical strengths and weaknesses. neither position provides the foundation for a theory of education that links structures and institutions to human agency and action in a dialectical manner. these flaws stem from a failure to recognize the degree to which resistance theories themselves are indebted to some of the more damaging features of reproduction theory. . and secondly. Furthermore. despite their concrete differences. however. At the same time. The basis for overcoming this separation of human agency from structural determinants lies in the development of a theory of resistance that both questions its own assumptions and critically appropriates those aspects of schooling that are accurately presented and analyzed in the reproduction model.Radical Theories of Schooling 73 In this rather brief and abstract discussion. The remainder of this chapter will first discuss three important theories that constitute various dimensions of the reproduction model of schooling: the economic-reproductive model. the cultural-reproductive model. while simultaneously representing its greatest challenge. and the hegemonic-state reproductive model. a failure that has plagued educational theory and practice for decades. resistance theories are also marred by a number of theoretical flaws. Second. we shall attempt to develop a new theory of resistance and shall briefly analyze its implications for a critical science of schooling. while at the same time analyzing how they are either positively or negatively informed by theories of reproduction. resistance theories have too readily ignored the most valuable insights of reproduction theory and. the task facing resistance theorists is twofold: first. and shall only summarize some of the general criticisms. we have juxtaposed two models of educational analysis to suggest that theories of resistance represent a significant advance over the important but limited theoretical gains of reproduction models of schooling. have failed to examine and appropriate those aspects of the reproduction model that are essential to developing a critical science of education. they must reconstruct the major theories of reproduction in order to abstract from them their most radical and emancipatory insights. In part. In other words. Consequently. Since reproduction theorists have been the object of considerable criticism elsewhere. resistance and reproduction approaches to education share the failure of recycling and reproducing the dualism between agency and structure. we shall look at what we generously call neo-Marxist theories of resistance that have recently emerged in the literature on education and schooling. they must structure their own assumptions to develop a more dialectical model of schooling and society. Finally. we shall focus primarily on the strengths of each of these models. But it is important to emphasize that.


Education Under Siege


Within the last fifteen years, the political-economy model of reproduction has exercised the strongest influence on radical theories of schooling. Developed primarily around the work of Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, it has had a major influence on theories about the hidden curriculum, 11 educational policy studies, 12 and a wide range of ethnographic research.13 At the core of the political-economy approach are two fundamentally important questions. The most important of these focuses on the relationship between schooling and society and asks, “How does the educational system function within society? The second question points to a related but more concrete concern regarding the issue of how subjectivities actually get constituted in schools, asking, How do schools fundamentally influence the ideologies, personalities, and needs of students? While theorists who work within this model give different answers, they generally agree on the relationship between power and domination, on the one hand, and the relationship between schooling and the economy on the other. Power in these accounts is defined and examined primarily in terms of its function to mediate and legitimate the relations of dominance and subordinance in the economic sphere. In this perspective, power becomes the property of dominant groups and operates to reproduce class, gender, and racial inequalities that function in the interests of the accumulation and expansion of capital. This becomes clear in the way economicreproductive theorists analyze the relations between the economy and schooling. Central to this position is the notion that schools can only be understood by analyzing the structural effects of the workplace on them. In Bowles and Gintis’s work this notion becomes clear through their reliance on what they call the correspondence theory.14 Broadly speaking, the correspondence theory posits that the hierarchically structured patterns of values, norms, and skills that characterize both the workforce and the dynamics of class interaction under capitalism are mirrored in the social dynamics of the daily classroom encounter. Through its classroom social relations, schooling functions to inculcate students with the attitudes and dispositions necessary to accept the social and economic imperatives of a capitalist economy. In this view, the underlying experience and relations of schooling are animated by the power of capital to provide different skills, attitudes, and values to students of different classes, races, and genders. In effect, schools mirror not only the social division of labor but also the wider

Radical Theories of Schooling


society’s class structure. The theoretical construct that illuminates the structural and ideological connection between the schools and the workplace is the notion of the hidden curriculum. This term refers to those classroom social relations that embody specific messages which legitimize the particular views of work, authority, social rules, and values that sustain capitalist logic and rationality, particularly as manifested in the workplace. The power of these messages lies in their seemingly univeral qualities—qualities that emerge as part of the structured silences that permeate all levels of school and classroom relations. The social relations that constitute the hidden curriculum provide ideological and material weight to questions regarding what counts as high versus low status knowledge (intellectual or manual), high versus low status forms of social organization (hierarchical or democratic), and, of course, what counts as high versus low status forms of personal interaction (interaction based on individual competitiveness or interaction based on collective sharing). The nature and meaning of the hidden curriculum is further extended through an understanding of how it contributes to the construction of student subjectivities—that is, those conscious and unconscious dimensions of experience that inform student behavior. Consideration of this issue leads into the work of the French social theorist, Louis Althusser. Althusser also argues that schools represent an essential and important social site for reproducing capitalist relations of production. 15 In agreement with Bowles and Gintis, he argues that the school carries out two fundamental forms of reproduction: the reproduction of the skills and rules of labor power, and the reproduction of the relations of production. The reproduction of the skills and rules of labor power is defined within the context of the formal curriculum and, in Althusser’s terms, includes the kind of “know-how” students need in order to
read, to write and to add—i.e., a number of techniques, and a number of other things as well, including elements of “scientific” or “literary culture,” which are directly useful in the different jobs in production (one instruction for manual workers, another for technicians, a third for engineers, a final one for high management)…. Children also learn the rules of good behaviour, i.e., the attitude that should be observed by every agent in the division of labor, according to the job he is “destined” for: rules of morality, civic and professional conscience, which actually means rules of respect for the socio-technical divisions of labour and ultimately the rules of the order established by class domination.16

Although both Althusser and Bowles and Gintis acknowledge the role that school knowledge plays in the reproductive process, it is not of much


Education Under Siege

significance in their analyses. Domination and the reproduction of the work force as constitutive elements of the schooling process take place primarily “behind the backs” of teachers and students through the hidden curriculum of schooling. But it is at this point that these theorists provide important and differing explanations. Unlike Bowles and Gintis, who situate the hidden curriculum in social relations that are somehow internalized by (read imposed on) students, Althusser attempts to explain this “hidden” process of socialization through a systematic theory of ideology. Althusser’s theory of ideology has a dual meaning, which becomes clear in his analysis of how ruling-class domination is secured in schools. In its first meaning, the theory refers to a set of material practices through which teachers and students live out their daily experiences. Ideology has a material existence in the rituals, routines, and social practices that both structure and mediate the day-to-day workings of schools. This material aspect of ideology is clearly seen, for example, in the architecture of school buildings, with their separate rooms, offices, and recreational areas—each positing and reinforcing an aspect of the social division of labor. Space is arranged differently for the administrative staff, teachers, secretaries, and students within the school building. Further, the ideological nature of the ecology of the school is somewhat obvious in the seating arrangements in university halls, or, for that matter, in the classrooms of many urban schools. This material aspect of Althusser’s notion of ideology corresponds somewhat to Bowles and Gintis’s notion of the hidden curriculum in pointing to the political nature and use of space, time, and social processes as they function within specific institutional settings. Similarly, it also points to the class-specific source and control of power that bears down on ideological institutions such as schools—institutions deemed essential, according to Althusser, to the production of ideologies and experiences that support the dominant society.17 In the second meaning of Althusser’s notion of ideology, the dynamics of the reproductive model unfold. In this sense, ideology is completely removed from any notion of intentionality, producing neither consciousness nor willing compliance. Instead, it is defined as those systems of meanings, representations, and values embedded in concrete practices that structure the unconsciousness of students. The effect of such practices and their mediations is to induce in teachers and students alike an “imaginary relationship…to their real conditions of existence.”18 Althusser explains:
It is customary to suggest that ideology belongs to the region of “consciousness”…. In truth, ideology has very little to do with “con

Radical Theories of Schooling
sciousness”…. It is profoundly unconscious, even when it presents itself in a reflected form. Ideology is indeed a system of representations, but in the majority of cases these representations have nothing to do with “consciousness”: they are usually images and occasionally concepts, but it is above all as structures that they impose on the vast majority of men, not via their “consciousness.” They are perceived-accepted-suffered cultural objects and they act functionally on one in a process that escapes them. Men “live” their ideologies as the Cartesian “saw” the moon at two hundred paces away: not at all as a form of consciousness, but as an object of their “world”—as their world itself.19


The economic-reproductive model gains an added dimension in the work of Christian Baudelot and Roger Establet.20 Baudelot and Establet also stress that the principal function of the school can only be understood in terms of the role it plays in the production of labor power, the accumulation of capital, and in the reproduction of legitimating ideologies. Once again, schools are tied to the engine of domination and reproduction. But in this case, power does not collapse into an allencompassing construct of ideological domination. Though still tied to the economic-reproductive model, Baudelot and Establet are not willing to dissolve human agency under the heavy hand of a one-sided notion of domination. Domination, they claim, does manifest itself through the imposition of bourgeois ideology in French schools, but the ideology is sometimes opposed and resisted by working class youths, particularly at the compulsory levels of schooling. Several important but underdeveloped theoretical considerations begin to emerge in Baudelot and Establet’s model of reproduction. First, schools are not viewed as sites that smoothly socialize working class students into the dominant ideology. Instead, schools are seen as social sites informed by conflicting ideologies which are rooted, in part, in the antagonistic class relations and structured practices that shape the dayto-day workings of these institutions. But if schools are viewed as sites containing oppositional ideologies, the sources of these ideologies— which fuel student resistance—are to be found not only inside but outside the school as well. That is, the basis for both critique and resistance on the part of working-class students is partly produced through the knowledge and practices made available to them in schools, but the primary historical and material basis for such action is located in oppositional public spheres that exist outside of such institutions. The question of the location of the basis of resistance leads to Baudelot and Establet’s second major insight. They rightly argue that the source of working-class student consciousness cannot be limited to such spheres as the workplace and the school. Working-class student social formations— groups organized around specific cultural experiences, values, and class,


Education Under Siege

gender, and racial relations—with their combination of hegemonic and oppositional ideologies, are primarily formed in the family, the neighborhood, and in the mass- and class-mediated youth cultures.21 Social classes, in this account, are formed not through the primacy of their determined structural relation to the workplace, but through culture as well. The complex dynamic behind the construction of class formations is captured in the comment, “The class’s capacity for selfrepresentation is marked by common conditions of life, including, but not limited to, a common relation to the ownership and control of the means of production. Among other things, classes are…formed by culture, understood here as modes of discourse, a shared symbolic universe, rituals and customs that connote solidarity and distinguish a class from others.”22 A third important but underdeveloped insight in Baudelot and Establet’s analysis is that ideology is limited neither to the realm of the unconscious nor to a configuration of internalized personality traits. As mentioned elsewhere, Bowles and Gintis as well as Althusser have drawn accounts of schooling in which the logic of domination appears to be inscribed without the benefit of human mediation or struggle.23 Baudelot and Establet modify these positions by giving ideology a more active nature. For them, ideology refers to that part of the realm of consciousness that produces and mediates the contradictory relations of capitalism and school life. Consequently, ideology becomes the locus of contradictory consciousness, informed by and containing both dominant and oppositional ideologies. This is evident in the contradictory logic exhibited in certain types of resistance. For example, some working class students either resist or reject the notion of book learning and other forms of literacy in favor of subversive school behavior and a celebration of physicality and manual labor. In doing so, these students may undermine one of the fundamental ideologies of the school, but they do so at the cost of rejecting the possibility for developing modes of critical literacy that could be crucial to their own liberation.24 To summarize, the economic-reproductive model had made several important contributions to a radical theory of education. By focusing on the relationship between schools and the workplace, it has helped to illuminate the essential role that education plays in reproducing the social and technical division of labor. In addition, it has made visible the “structured silences” in liberal theory regarding how the imperatives of class and power bear down on and shape school experience, particularly through the hidden curriculum. Furthermore, this model of reproduction has provided important insights into the class and structural basis of inequality. By rejecting the “blaming the victim” ideology that informs much of the research on inequality, these accounts have blamed

central apparatus or fail to see how the dominated participate in their own oppression. class.26 In his attempt to understand the role of culture in linking. and individual biographies. As such. as the source and consequences of economic inequality. whether manifested in schools or in other social sites. The work of Pierre Bourdieu and his colleagues in France represents the most important perspective for studying the cultural-reproductive model.Radical Theories of Schooling 79 institutions such as the schools for inequality. resistance. In short. the economic-reproductive model has failed to capture the complexity of the relationship between schools and such other institutions as the workplace and the family. he claims that schools are relatively autonomous institutions that are influenced only indirectly by more powerful economic and political institutions. Within its grimly mechanistic and overly-determined model of socialization there appears little room for developing a theory of schooling that takes seriously the notions of culture. but also by a form of radical pessimism that offers little hope for social change and even less reason for developing alternative educational practices. This rejection becomes clear in Bourdieu’s theory of schooling in which he attempts to link the notions of structure and human agency through an analysis of the relationships among dominant culture. the dynamics of capitalist reproduction to the subordinate classes. these accounts lack what we have labeled a language of possibility. and have traced the failure of such institutions to the very structure of capitalist society. they generally disappear under the crushing weight of capitalist domination. Instead. second. The mediating role of culture in reproducing class societies is given priority over the study of related issues. schools to the logic of the dominant classes. must be analyzed within a theoretical framework capable of dialectically linking human agents and dominant structures.25 Bourdieu’s theory of cultural reproduction begins with the notion that the logic of domination. CULTURAL-REPRODUCTIVE MODEL Theories of cultural reproduction are also concerned with the question of how capitalist societies are able to reproduce themselves. these accounts are marred not only by a reductionist instrumentalism regarding the meaning and role of schools. . school knowledge. Unfortunately. Bourdieu rejects functionalist theories that either impute the effects of domination to a single. such. and. Bourdieu argues against the notion that schools simply mirror the dominant society. Even where contradictions and mediations are mentioned. and domination. and mediation. Central to these theories is a sustained effort to develop a sociology of schooling that links culture. first.

A child inherits from his or her family those sets of meanings. Schools play a particularly important role in legitimating and reproducing dominant cultural capital. ways of speaking.” That is. Education is seen as an important social and political force in the process of class reproduction. schools are seen as part of a larger universe of symbolic institutions that do not overtly impose docility and oppression. and orthodox radical critiques.”27 Culture becomes the mediating link between ruling-class interests and everyday life. modes of thinking.e. in which schools merely mirror the needs of the economic system. which views schools as independent of external forces. This becomes more understandable through an analysis of the notion of cultural capital—the different sets of linguistic and cultural competencies that individuals inherit by way of the classlocated boundaries of their family. it is precisely the relative autonomy of the educational system that “enables it to serve external demands under the guise of independence and neutrality.80 Education Under Siege Rather than being linked directly to the power of an economic elite. but reproduce existing power relations more subtly through the production and distribution of a dominant culture that tacitly confirms what it means to be educated. not as arbitrary and historically contingent. Through this argument Bourdieu rejects both the idealist position. According to Bourdieu. They tend to legitimize certain forms of knowledge. It functions to portray the economic and political interests of the dominant classes. but as necessary and natural elements of the social order. i. and types of dispositions that are assigned a certain social value and status in accordance with what the dominant class(es) label as the most valued cultural capital.”28 The notions of culture and cultural capital are central to Bourdieu’s analysis of how the mechanisms of cultural reproduction function within schools. to conceal the social functions it performs and so to perform them more effectively. He argues that the culture transmitted by the school is related to the various cultures that make up the wider society in that it confirms the culture of the ruling classes while simultaneously disconfirming the cultures of other groups.. class control is constituted through the subtle exercise of symbolic power waged by ruling classes in order “to impose a definition of the social world that is consistent with its interests. qualities of style. By appearing to be an impartial and neutral “transmitter” of the benefits of a valued culture. and ways of relating to the world that capitalize on the type of familiarity and skills that only certain . schools are able to promote inequality in the name of fairness and objectivity. Bourdieu’s theory of cultural reproduction begins with the assumption that class-divided societies and the ideological and material configurations on which they rest are partially mediated and reproduced through what he calls “symbolic violence.

taste. in-depth courses in the arts.30 These bodies of knowledge not only legitimate the interests and values of the dominant classes. whether they be industrial arts or culinary arts. In this case. labor history. they also have the effect of marginalizing or disconfirming other kinds of knowledge. black studies. Needless to say. Bourdieu sums up this process: The culture of the elite is so near that of the school that children from the lower middle class (an a fortiori from the agricultural and industrial working class) can acquire only with great effort something which is given to the children of the cultivated classes—style. Bourdieu provides a number of insights into how the hegemonic curriculum works in schools. It is important to note that high-status knowledge often corresponds to bodies of knowledge that provide a stepping stone to professional careers via higher education.29 By linking power and culture.31 Thus. and so forth—and what it excludes—feminist history. schools legitimize the dominant cultural capital through the hierarchically arranged bodies of school knowledge in the hegemonic . particularly knowledge important to feminists. working class students often find themselves subjected to a school curriculum in which the distinction between high-status and low-status knowledge is organized around the difference between theoretical and practical subjects. are seen as marginal and inferior. For example. pointing to the political interests underlying the selection and distribution of those bodies of knowledge that are given top priority. and other forms of knowledge important to the working class and other subordinate groups.Radical Theories of Schooling 81 students have received from their family backgrounds and class relations. those aptitudes which seem natural in members of the cultivated classes and naturally expected of them precisely because (in the ethnological sense) they are the culture of that class. and minority groups. but as different and inferior. Such knowledge embodies the cultural capital of the middle and upper classes and presupposes a certain familiarity with the linguistic and social practices it supports. the importance of the hegemonic curriculum lies in both what it includes—with its emphasis on Western history. In the end. working class knowledge and culture are often placed in competition with what the school legitimates as dominant culture and knowledge. science. but also functions to confirm and legitimate their privileged positions in schools. such knowledge is not only more accessible to the upper classes. the working class. Courses that deal with practical subjects. Thus. working class knowledge and culture are seen not as different and equal. wit—in short. Students whose families have only a tenuous connection to the dominant cultural capital are at a decided disadvantage.

32 In Bourdieu’s most recent writings. then. act as identifiable forms of cultural capital that either reveal or betray a student’s social background. along with the body postures and the social relations they reinforce (lowered voice. nontactile interaction). it is in this correspondence between the tacitly inscribed values and ideologies that make up the individual’s disposition and the norms and ideologies embedded in the positions characterizing institutions such as schools that the dynamics of domination become manifest. engendered by objective conditions but tending to persist even after an alteration of those conditions. and by rewarding students who use the linguistic style of the ruling class. he examines the relationship between action and structure through forms of historical action that bring together two histories. This point is central to Bourdieu’s theory of cultural reproduction and can be examined more closely through a discussion of his notions of habitat (positions) and habitus (dispositions). Bourdieu explains the process of domination by arguing that it is often forged through a correlation between a certain disposition (habitus) and the expectations and interests embedded in the position of specific institutions (habitat). law. Class and power connect with the production of dominant cultural capital not only in the structure and evaluation of the school curriculum but also in the dispositions of the oppressed themselves. disinterested tone. As principles inscribed deeply within the needs and dispositions of the body. In effect. certain linguistic practices and modes of discourse become privileged by being treated as natural to the gifted. becomes a “matrix of perceptions. or objectified history. Certain linguistic styles. The first is the habitat. buildings. an internalized style of knowing and relating to the world that is grounded in the body itself. theories. thought and action. Furthermore. and points to a set of internalized competencies and structured needs. It is in the dialectical relationship between institutions as objectified history and the habitus or dispositions of different classes that Bourdieu attempts to fashion a theory of domination and learning.”34 “a system of durably acquired schemes of perception. customs. Habitus. etc. for Bourdieu the notions of .82 Education Under Siege curriculum. “the history which has accumulated over the passage of time in things. when in fact they are the speech habits of dominant classes and thus serve to perpetuate cultural privileges. appreciations and actions. who sometimes actively participate in their own subjugation. and differs for various dominant and subordinate groups within society. monuments. machines. books.”35 The habitus is a product of both socialization and embodied history. the habitus becomes a powerful force in organizing an individual’s experience and is the central category in situating human agency within practical activity. Thus.”33 The second refers to the embodied history of the habitus.

senses. more precious. than the values given body. sociology. cannot even be made explicit. what emerges in this account are the theoretical rudiments of a cultural-reproductive model that attempts to take seriously the notions of history. and. and hence cannot be touched by voluntary deliberate transformation. through injunctions as insignificant as “stand up straight” as “don’t hold your knife in your left hand. Similarly. is actively situated in the practical activity of the body. Bourdieu’s work is not without some serious theoretical flaws. more inimitable. Bourdieu’s formulation of the notion of habitus is based on a theory of social control and depth . Learning. It is organized around class-specific cultural practices that inscribe their messages beyond consciousness. Bourdieu argues that individuals from different social groups and classes undergo processes of socialization that are not only intellectual but also emotional. culture. and emotions. and linguistic practices formulates a new discourse for examining ideologies embedded in the formal school curriculum. are reinforced by work experience itself and by all the consequent changes in their dispositions. and physical. can predispose young workers to accept and even wish for entry into a world of manual labor which they identify with the adult world. a metaphysic. Bourdieu explains: The principles em-bodied in [the habitus]…are placed beyond the grasp of consciousness.38 In effect. “The dispositions inculcated by a childhood experience of the social world which. Bourdieu adds a new dimension to analyses of the hidden curriculum by focusing on the importance of the body as an object of learning and social control. a political philosophy.”36 The importance of the notion of habitus to a theory of schooling becomes evident in the expanded theory of learning that it suggests.Radical Theories of Schooling 83 habitus and habitat reveal how domination is forged in a logic that draws together those corresponding ideologies and practices that constitute both agents and structures.”37 Bourdieu’s work is significant in that it provides a theoretical model for understanding aspects of schooling and social control that have been virtually ignored in conservative and liberal accounts. For example. Yet. therefore. in this case. sensory. and psychology. capable of instilling a whole cosmology. nothing seems more ineffable. in certain historical conditions. more incommunicable. The most glaring flaws concern the mechanistic notions of power and domination and the overly determined view of human agency that characterizes much of this work. Its politicization of school knowledge. an ethic. in the materiality of the body and the values and dispositions it signifies. made body by the transubstantiation achieved by the hidden persuasion of an implicit pedagogy.

in the mismatch between one’s habitus and the position one occupies—the foundation for such action rests not on a notion of reflexivity or critical self-consciousness. Bourdieu provides no theoretical opportunity to unravel how cultural domination and resistance are mediated through the complex interface of race. a practical immediate recognition of social classifications and of hierarchies between the sexes. amenable to will. of languages.84 Education Under Siege psychology that appears to be fashioned almost exclusively in the logic of domination. etc. one situated in the realm of the unconscious and the other situated in the social practices that make up institutions such as schools. incorporation. in part. The result is that the power of reflexive thought and historical agency are relegated to a minor theoretical detail in Bourdieu’s theory of change. As a result.” “don’t touch”) or uses of language (“say this” or “don’t say that”). What is missing from Bourdieu’s work is the notion that . The uses of the body. diversity. Another theoretical flaw in Bourdieu’s work is that culture represents a somewhat one-way process of domination. resulting in the loss of such notions as struggle.39 Unfortunately. Thus. gender. First. and human agency in a somewhat reductionist view of human nature and history. where the conceptual possibility for resistance does appear in Bourdieu’s work—that is. The following comment by Bourdieu is representative of this position. and of time are all privileged objects of social control: innumerable elements of explicit education—not to mention practical. mimetic transmission—relate to uses of the body (“sit up straight. the classes. Politeness contains a politics. Working class cultural production and its relation to cultural reproduction through the complex dynamics of resistance. such a portrayal eliminates conflict both within and between different classes. his theory suggests falsely that working class cultural forms and knowledge are homogeneous and merely a pale reflection of dominant cultural capital. but on the incompatability between two structures—the historical structure of the disposition and the historical structure embodied in the institution. Through bodily and linguistic discipline…the choices constituting a certain relation to the world are internalized in the form of durable patternings not accessible to consciousness nor even. The collapse of culture and class into the processes of cultural reproduction raises a number of significant problems. resistance becomes the outcome of a conflict between two formalistic structures. the generations. and accommodation are not acknowledged by Bourdieu. and class. by reducing classes to homogeneous groups whose only differences are based on whether they exercise or respond to power. Second.

to the regulation of class memberships. resist. Saturday sport and week-night dinners with parents. to the organization of a marriage market—e. they are often met with resistance by teachers. Bourdieu excludes the active nature of both domination and resistance. (This is an embracing practice. resistance.Radical Theories of Schooling 85 culture is both a structuring and transforming process. and creative struggle for change.40 Bourdieu’s analyses of schooling also suffer from a one-sided treatment of ideology. dominant ideologies are not just transmitted in schools nor are they practiced in a void. integrated and re-constituted in the face of changes in its own composition and in the general social circumstances in which it tries to survive and prosper. In short.g. students. and accommodate themselves to dominant ideologies. that dominant ideologies are transmitted by schools and actively incorporated by students.) The ruling-class school is no mere agent of the class. we would suggest an equal stress should be laid on the school as constructor. as Bourdieu does.41 While it is useful to argue. Roger Dale illuminates this process in his discussion of how hegemony functions in schools. Furthermore. who occasionally view them as contrary to their own interests and either resist them openly or conform to them under pressure from school authorities.. it must be noted that schools are not simply static institutions that reproduce the dominant ideology.43 By failing to develop a theory of ideology that speaks to the way in which human beings dialectically create. In spite of his claims. they are active agents in its construction as well. On the contrary. They write: The school generates practices by which the class is renewed. David Davies captures this dynamic in his comment: “Culture refers paradoxically to conservative adaptation and lived subordination of classes and to opposition. writing that “hegemony is not so much about winning approval for the status quo…. opposition or alternatives to the status quo through denying the use of the school for such purposes. This is aptly portrayed in an ethnographic study of ruling class schools conducted by Robert Connell and his colleagues. Bourdieu wrote a famous essay about the “school as conserver”. inter-school dances—and informal networks in business and the professions. and subordination of particular interests to those of class as a whole. and parents. ranging from the school fete. it is equally important to remember that ideologies are also imposed on students. it is important to argue that schools do not simply usurp the cultural capital of . it is organic to its class.”42 Similarly. Rather what seems to be involved is the prevention of rejection. In other words. it is an important and active part of it. it is reasonable to argue that in order to be successful. updating of ideology. schools have to repress the production of counter-ideologies.

with its asymmetrical relations of power.Timothy Sieber that chronicles the history of a power struggle over an elementary school in New York City. concrete instance cannot be ignored in any discussion of schooling. for most working class students.44 This study reinforces one aspect of Bourdieu’s analysis in revealing that middle class students. the constraints of power are not exhausted within the concept of symbolic violence. the privileged classes have a relationship to time that enables them to make long-term plans regarding their futures. not a possession. with their respective cultural competencies and experiences. The internalization of dominant ideology is not the only force . For instance. But the more interesting aspect of Sieber’s study indicates that the “privileged standing” and educational benefits provided to middle class students were the outcome of a long struggle between the middle class segment of the community and its predominantly working class residents. were accorded specific academic privileges and freedoms denied to working class and Puerto Rican students in the same school. The predominance of middle class culture in this school was the outcome of a political struggle. Michel Foucault’s notion that power works on the body. the family. Bourdieu appears to have forgotten that domination has to be grounded in something other than mere ideology. This is no small matter. produces concrete constraints on working class students. Complex relations develop between the schools and working class families and they need to be analyzed in terms of the conflicts and struggles that inform them. was actively and systematically developed “both inside and outside of the school” by middle class parents. especially those who are in higher education. there is a serious flaw in Bourdieu’s work regarding his unwillingness to link the notion of domination with the materiality of economic forces. just as the economic issue is often the determining factor in deciding whether or not a student will have to work part time while attending school.46 In other words.86 Education Under Siege working class families and neighborhoods. Time is a privation. or in some cases can afford to go at all. Domination as an objective. and contrary to Bourdieu’s position. This point is highlighted in an ethnographic study by R. often are burdened by economic constraints that lock them into the present and limit their goals to short-term plans.47 It is the economic dimension that often plays a crucial role in the decision over whether a working class student can go to school full or part time. sexuality. because it points to a major gap in Bourdieu’s reasoning regarding working class failure. the children of the dispossessed. and the nature of learning itself serves to remind us that the relations of power weigh down on more than just the mind.45 Finally. There is no insight in Bourdieu’s analyses regarding how the economic system. In contrast. that it also has a material foundation.

Consequently. on the one hand. and the state and education on the other. He writes: Does the state only serve the interests of capital or is it more complex than that? Is the state instead an arena of class conflict and a site where . there are significant differences among them as to what the state actually is. and learn.50 These theorists believe that educational change cannot be understood by looking only at capital’s domination of the labor process or the way capitalist domination is reproduced through culture. They argue that such accounts display little understanding of how political factors lead to state interventionist policies that serve to structure and shape the reproductive functions of education. As a result of Bourdieu’s one-sided emphasis on ruling class domination and its attendant cultural practices. Neither of these explanations. In our view.49 Thus.Radical Theories of Schooling 87 that motivates working class students or secures their failure. how it works. a major concern now among a number of educational theorists focuses on the complex role of state intervention in the educational system. It refers to the shifting relations of domination and resistance and to capital and its institutions as they constantly regroup and attempt to reconstruct the logic of domination and incorporation. they claim. has given adequate attention to the underlying structural determinants of inequality that characterize the advanced industrial countries of the West. Michael Apple captures the complexity of this issue in his review of some of the major questions with which theorists of the state are currently grappling. work. failures. In spite of the agreement among reproductive theorists about the importance of the state. and choices are also grounded in material conditions. These oppositions are missing from Bourdieu’s analyses. it becomes clear that both the concept of capital as well as the notion of class are treated as static categories.48 What we are left with is a theory of reproduction that displays little faith in subordinate classes and groups and little hope in their ability or willingness to reconstruct the conditions under which they live. class involves a notion of social relations that are in opposition to each other. Their behaviors. most reproduction theories informed by Bourdieu’s notion of domination ultimately fail to provide the comprehensive theoretical elements needed for a radical pedagogy. and what the precise relationship is between the state and capital. HEGEMONIC-STATE REPRODUCTIVE MODEL Recently Marxist theorists have argued that understanding the role of the state is central to any analysis of how domination operates.

Second. not a foregone conclusion where it is simply imposed? Are schools—as important sites of the state—simply “ideological state apparatuses” (to quote Althusser). One of the major assumptions in Marxist accounts regarding the relationship between the state and capitalism has been developed around the work of the late Italian theorist. The state and capitalism. appears to have two meanings. do they also embody contradictory tendencies and provide sites where ideological struggles within and among classes. Rejecting orthodox Marxist formulations of the state as merely the repressive tool . Hegemony in this account represents more than the exercise of coercion: it is a process of continuous creation and includes the constant structuring of consciousness as well as a battle for the control of consciousness. First.88 Education Under Siege hegemony must be worked for. needs. and interests of subordinate groups.”54 Hegemony in this instance signifies. and sexes can and do occur?51 It is not our intent to unravel how different theorists of the state deal with these issues. in part. Hegemony. races. we will explore some of the dynamics that characterize the relationship between the state and capitalism. in Gramsci’s terms. Antonio Gramsci. we will focus on two major themes. it refers to a process of domination whereby a ruling class exercises control through its intellectual and moral leadership over allied classes. first. First.52 For Gramsci. ones whose primary role is to reproduce the ideological and “manpower” requirements of the social relations of production? Or. any discussion about the state had to begin with the reality of class relations and the exercise of hegemony by the dominant classes. we will explore some of the underlying dynamics at work in the relationship between the state and schooling. The production of knowledge is linked to the political sphere and becomes a central element in the state’s construction of power. Instead. Gramsci’s dialectical formulation of hegemony as an ever-changing combination of force and consent provides the basis for analyzing the nature of the state in capitalist society. an alliance is formed among ruling classes as a result of the power and “ability of one class to articulate the interest of other social groups to its own.53 In other words. This is an important issue. by referring to its active involvement as a repressive and cultural (educative) apparatus. This brings us directly to Gramsci’s definition of the state. hegemony refers to the dual use of force and ideology to reproduce societal relations between dominant classes and subordinate groups. The primary issue for Gramsci centers around demonstrating how the state can be defined. Second. a pedagogic and politically transformative process whereby the dominant class articulates the common elements embedded in the world views of allied groups. Gramsci strongly emphasizes the role of ideology as an active force used by dominant classes to shape and incorporate the common sense views.

”55 The footing on which hegemony moves and functions has to shift ground in order to accommodate the changing nature of historical circumstances and the complex demands and critical actions of human beings. Gramsci is rather succinct on this issue: “The state is the entire complex of practical and theoretical activities with which the ruling class not only justifies and maintains its dominance. or the trade unions—must be fought for constantly in order to be maintained. Two issues need to be stressed in conjunction with Gramsci’s view of the state. All state apparatuses have coercive and consensual functions. the mass media. It is not something “that simply consists of the projection of the ideas of the dominant classes into the heads of the subordinate classes. Power as used here is both a positive and a negative force. It functions positively as a feature of active opposition and struggle. the terrain on which men and women question.”56 Gramsci’s writings are crucial to an understanding of the meaning and workings of the state and have influenced a wide range of Marxist writers who argue that “all state formations under capitalism articulate class power. Marxist critics have argued in different ways that the state is a specific set of social . administrative structure that operates in the interests of the general will. symbols. law.”57 The crucial starting point for many of these theorists is a sustained attack on the liberal assumption that the state is a neutral. Furthermore. and refuse to be incorporated into the logic of capital and its institutions. It functions negatively in the repressive and ideological apparatuses of the government and civil society to reproduce the relations of domination. This attack generally takes the form of an historical critique that rejects the liberal notion of the state as a naturally evolving structure of human progress which stands above class and sectional interests. In short. and other coercive institutions whose primary. and ideas to universalize ruling class ideologies. Civil society refers to those private and public institutions that rely upon meanings. it is the dominance of one function over the other that gives the apparatuses of either political or civil society their defining characteristic.Radical Theories of Schooling 89 of the dominant classes. Political society refers to the state apparatuses of administrative. function is based on the logic of force and repression. hegemony—whether it takes place in the schools. Gramsci provides a definition of the state that links power and culture to the traditional Marxist emphasis on the repressive aspects of the state. while simultaneously shaping and limiting oppositional discourse and practice. act. This view of the function of the state redefines class rule and the complex use of power. but manages to win the active consent of those over whom it rules. as a mode of ideological control. Gramsci divides the state into two specific realms: political society and civil society. though not exclusive.

or better. as a set of relations organized around class divisions. Dominant classes may battle over the size of the military budget.”60 The second defining feature of the state centers around the relationship between the dominant and dominated classes. the state’s short-term policies are firmly committed to maintaining the underlying economic and ideological structures of capitalist society. take two primary forms. as the concrete representation of class relations. behind the discourse of diverging political. 59 On the contrary. and all it entails. and social interests.90 Education Under Siege relations linked historically to the conditions of capitalist production. often tends to obscure what various factions of the ruling class have in common. becomes thought of as lived and natural. an embodiment of a changing pattern of class relations organized around the dynamics of class struggle. not in its chorus of oppositional discourses. the state is defined less by the interest of any one dominant group than by the specific set of social relations it mediates and sustains. and the nature of the tax structure. the state is an organization. In effect. Theorists such as Nicos Poulantzas have rightly argued that the state and its various agencies. but in its structured silences regarding the underlying basis of capitalist society. it can be argued. then. the state expresses ideological and economic interests through repressive as well as legitimating institutions. Thus. The state is not only an object of struggle among members of the ruling class. Furthermore. it is a complex of social forms organized so that it inflects all relations and ideas about relations in such a way that capitalist production. there is the underlying grammar of class domination and structured inequality. which. there are conflicts among different factions of the ruling class. Claus Offe and Volker Ronge summarize this position well: “What the state protects and sanctions is a set of rules and social relations which are presupposed by the class rule of the capitalist class. The state does not defend the interests of one class but the common interest of all members of a capitalist society. Moreover. First. the state is constituted through continuing conflicts and contradictions. cannot be seen merely as tools manipulated at will by the ruling classes. including public schools.”58 This leads to a related and important issue concerning the defining features of the state’s operation. But it is important to note that the relative autonomy of the state. domination. The definitive feature of the relative autonomy of the state is to be found. sectional. monetary cutbacks in social services. but they do not challenge basic capitalist production relations. it is an organization. who often represent varied and competing approaches to social control and capital accumulation. “The state is not a structure. and contestation. That is. secured partly through the existence of competing dominant classes. it is .

particularly any which announces any form of organization that established difference at the level of the national social formation (or crime of all crimes!. it is rightly claimed that . the fulfillment of which lies beyond the capabilities of the existing society. The underlying logic of state formation is situated in the state’s dual role of performing the often contradictory tasks of establishing the conditions for the accumulation of capital. In addition. one “optimal institutional structure” which is what “any” civilization needs. Furthermore. on the one hand. the state has the task of winning the consent of the dominated classes. Furthermore. destroy. Central to this is a two fold set of historical practices: (i) the constant “rewriting” of history to naturalize what has been. to claim that there is. in fact. For example. and values for the reproduction of labor power. for instance. and (ii) to marginalize (disrupt. and psychological (happiness). ideological (democratic rights). First. the state has the task of meeting the basic needs of capital by providing. that established any form of international solidarity along class lines). the necessary flow of workers. In other words.62 The contradictions that arise out of the differences between the reality and the promise of capitalist social relations are evident in a number of instances. the ideology of the work ethic is often contradicted by the increasing number of routinized and alienating jobs. skills. an extremely changeable set of state relations. beauty. What emerges from this analysis of the relationship between the state and the economy are a number of crucial issues that have a significant bearing on educational policy and practice. which it attempts by legitimating the social relations and values that structure the capital accumulation process either through remaining silent about the class interests that benefit from such relations. the state attempts to win the consent of the working class for its policies by making an appeal to three types of specific outcomes—economic (social mobility).61 But at the same time. deny.Radical Theories of Schooling 91 also a defining force in the production of conflict and struggle between the ruling class and other subordinate groups. or through marginalizing or disqualifying any serious critique or alternative to them. and has always been. capitalism’s appeal to the satisfaction of higher needs often rests on an image of leisure. knowledge. dilute. and happiness. and the ideological task of moral regulation on the other. some of which directly involve schooling. schools often promote an ideology of social mobility that it at odds with high levels of unemployment and the overabundance of highly qualified workers. Philip Corrigan and his colleagues point to this issue in their argument: We stress that the state is constructed and fought over. “help”) all alternative forms of state.

Secondly. Finally. systems management. through state-established certification requirements. and practices that characterize the dominant society. examples of this pattern of intervention are becoming more visible. It then “transfers” the fruits of it back to the “private sector” once it becomes profitable. futurism (often a code word for manpower planning). The state and schooling. This bias also puts pressures on schools to utilize methods of inquiry and evaluation that stress efficiency. career education. The following section contains a more detailed examination of these issues. Thirdly. The extent of state intervention is obvious in the favorable political orientation exercised through small. schools and universities play a major role in furthering the economic interests of the dominant classes. ideological. gender.and large-scale government funding for educational research programs. prediction. In order to adequately investigate the relationship between the state and schooling. The effects can be seen in the distinction schools at all levels make between high-status knowledge—usually the “hard sciences”—and low-status knowledge—subjects in the humanities. in its capacity as an ideological and repressive apparatus. and the logic of the mathematical formula.92 Education Under Siege the state is neither the instrument of any one dominant class faction nor simply a pale reflection of the needs of the economic system. culture. and racial groups. Like the economy. illuminates this point: The state will take on the large initial cost of basic research and development. the state limits and channels the responses that schools can make to the ideology. continued major funding for mathematics and science curriculum . and repressive functions? How does the school function not only to further the interests of the state and the dominant classes but also to contradict and resist the logic of capital? As part of the state apparatus. 63 For example. How does the state exercise control over schools in terms of its economic. for instance. and they point specifically to a number of instances in which the state intervenes to influence this process. They include the emphasis on competency-based education. Apple. educational systems are heavily weighted toward a highly technocratic rationality that relies upon a logic drawn primarily from the natural sciences. two questions need to be posed and analyzed. it is primarily an organization that actively defends capitalist society through repressive as well as ideological means. The state’s role in capital accumulation is very evident in its subsidization of the production of technical/administrative knowledge…. the state is not merely an expression of class struggle. Several theorists have argued that schools are actively involved in establishing the conditions for capital accumulation. the state is accurately portrayed as a site marked by ongoing conflicts among and between various class.

etc. etc. they will actually defuse the debate over the role of schooling in the reproduction of the knowledge and people “required” by society. the success of which is often measured against how well they “equip” different groups of students with the knowledge and skills they will need to perform productively in the workplace. argues that the production of dominant ideologies in the schools is to be found not only in the high-status knowledge and social relations . at least in part. This will be hidden from us as well by our assumption. All of these and more signal the sometimes subtle and sometimes quite overt role of state intervention into schooling to attempt to maximize efficient production of both the agents and the knowledge required by an unequal economy.66 One of the major questions pursued by educational theorists studying the state focuses on the relationship between power and knowledge— specifically.”65 State intervention is also manifested in the way policy is formulated outside of the control of teachers and parents. beneath the production of this type of curriculum and socialization there is the brute reality that schools function partly to keep students out of the labor force. planning.”67 Poulantzas. remedial problems. that schools are primarily organized as distribution agencies. how the state “exercises and imposes its power through the production of ‘truth’ and ‘knowledge’ about education. As Dale points out. helpful. discipline problems. and insure that for a large part of most days in the year they cannot engage in activities which might disrupt a social context amenable to capital accumulation but are exposed to attempts to socialize them into ways compatible with the maintenance of that context. The economic interest underlying such policy is present not only in the rationality of control. the conflicts and disparities generated by the historically evolving cultural and economic hierarchies of the society. While these projects seem neutral. poverty. Moreover. instead of. It will do this in part by defining the ultimate causes of such deviance as within the child or his or her culture and not due to.64 93 The rationality that supports state intervention into schools also influences the development of curricula and classroom social relations. for example. national testing programs….). and may seem aimed at increasing mobility.Radical Theories of Schooling development (when compared to the arts). and other bureaucratic emphases on rule following but also in the way in which the state funds programs to handle what Apple calls “negative outcomes” in the accumulation process. and giving funding and legislative support for special teachers and for “diagnosis” and for “treatment” the state will fund extensive remedial projects. By defining large groups of children as deviant (slow learners. “schools keep children off the streets. say. important agencies in the accumulation process.

it functions to separate the issues of politics and democracy from the economic sphere and to displace the notion of conflict from its class-specific social context to the terrain of individual rights and struggle.” the underlying logic of this status suggests that teachers should implement rather than conceptualize and develop curriculum approaches. this division between mental and manual labor underlies the school’s socializing process which prepares working class and other students for their respective places in the work force. and legitimates “intellectuals” who serve as experts in the production and conception of school knowledge. classroom social relations. These comprise a series of rituals and styles of speech.”68 This separation becomes more pronounced in the special status that state certification programs and schools give to curriculum “experts. do more than mediate the logic of domination. liberal democratic ideology contains concerns for human rights that are often at odds with capitalist rationality. . Schools. Schools play an active role in legitimating the view that politics and power are primarily defined around the issues of individual rights and through the dynamics of the electoral process. Poulantzas states. in the reproduction of the mental-manual division. trains. Central to this liberal ideology of democratic rights are assumptions that define the political sphere and the role of the state in that sphere. On the one hand. Behind this facade of credentialized expertise and professionalism lies a major feature of dominant ideology—the separation of knowledge from power. The importance of this ideology as a contradictory part of the hegemonic curriculum cannot be overstated. and this can be seen in the contradictions that emerge around the ideology of democratic rights often reproduced in the school curriculum. For instance. and its drive for profits. “The knowledge-power relationship finds expression in particular techniques of the exercise of power-exact devices inscribed in the texture of the state whereby the popular masses are permanently kept at a distance from the centres of decision making. there is a certain counter-logic in democratic liberal ideology that provides the basis for resistance and conflict. This division finds its highest representation in tracking. more importantly. Furthermore. The knowledge-power relation also finds expression in the active production and distribution of knowledge itself. its ethos of commodity fetish. The state appropriates. one of the main roles of the schools is to valorize mental labor and disqualify manual labor. On the other hand. and who ultimately function to separate knowledge from both manual work and popular consumption.94 Education Under Siege sanctioned by the state bureaucracy but. as well as structural modes of formulating and tackling problems that monopolize knowledge in such a way that the popular masses are effectively excluded. and other aspects of school legitimation that function to exclude and devalue working class history and culture. That is. of course.

the police. Though impossible to discuss here in detail. Of course.Radical Theories of Schooling 95 Finally. this intervention often takes forms which link schools to the logic of repression rather than ideological domination. it must be emphasized that theories of the state perform a theoretical service by adding to our understanding of how the processes of social and cultural reproduction function in the political sphere. Poulantzas’s heavyhanded notion of the schools as merely an ideological state apparatus provides no theoretical space for investigating the emergence and dynamics of student counter-cultures as they develop in the interplay of concrete. and repressive pressures the state exerts on schooling. First. but says little about how human agency works through such conflicts at the level of everyday life and concrete school relations. and other state agencies that attempt to enforce involuntary school attendance. ideological. the contradictory character of the state. For instance. both the subject and object of resistance.69 Culture is. however. involuntary school attendance does not guarantee student obedience. a fact often forgotten by resistance theorists. it must be remembered that the most direct intervention exercised by the state is constituted by law. theories of the state focus primarily on macro and structural issues. this dialectical view of culture is often subsumed within a view of power that leans too heavily on the logic of domination in defining culture simply as an object of resistance rather than its source. but also in the way in which oppressed groups draw from their own cultural capital and set of experiences to develop an oppositional logic. it is necessary to turn to theories of resistance. resulting in a mode of analysis that points to contradictions and struggle. One instance of this linkage is that the foundation of school policy is sometimes established in the courts. as part of a wider theory of reproduction. hegemonic-state accounts exhibit some major theoretical failings. and the economic. They rightly draw our attention to the importance of the relative autonomy of the state and its apparatuses (such as schools). and in some respects becomes a major issue promoting student resistance. antagonistic school relations. Despite theoretical lip service to the contrary. the driving force of culture is contained not only in how it functions to dominate subordinate groups. A second failing is that some theories of the state display an inadequate understanding of culture as a relatively autonomous realm with its own inherent counterlogic. But it must be acknowledged that. . In conclusion. Another instance is that school attendance is established through the rule of law and provides the “legal” cement that brings students into the schools. Relatedly. such as the push towards racial integration of public schooling. In order to obtain a more concrete view of the dynamics of resistance and struggle as they inform subordinate school cultures operating under the ideological and material constraints partly constructed by the state. it is the courts.

and resists the logic of capital and its dominating social practices.70 Resistance. and an under emphasis on how human agency accommodates. mediates. Rejecting the functionalism inherent in both conservative and radical versions of educational theory. represents a significant critique of school as an institution and points to social activities and practices whose meanings are ultimately political and cultural. these accounts have sought to redefine the importance of mediation. power. Conservative educators analyzed oppositional behavior primarily through psychological categories that served to define such behavior not only as deviant.71 That is. there has been a structured silence regarding how teachers. Instead. neo-Marxist accounts have analyzed curriculum as a complex discourse . a number of educational studies have emerged that attempt to move beyond the important but somewhat limited theoretical gains of reproduction theory. class conflict. on the other hand. The reasons behind this theoretical neglect can be traced partly to the failings of both conservative and radical approaches to schooling.” Beneath a discourse primarily concerned with the notions of domination. Consequently. as disruptive and inferior—a failing on the part of the individuals and social groups that exhibited it. More recently. and others live out their daily lives in schools. and hegemony. recent neoMarxist studies have not followed the method of merely providing overly-exhaustive descriptive analyses of the internal workings of the school. students. In contrast to a vast amount of ethnographic literature on schooling in both the United States and England.96 Education Under Siege SCHOOLING AND THEORIES OF RESISTANCE The concept of resistance is relatively new in educational theory. have generally ignored the internal workings of the school and have tended to treat schools as “black boxes. Taking the concepts of conflict and resistance as starting points for their analyses. but more importantly. in these accounts. there has been an overemphasis on how structural determinants promote economic and cultural inequality. they have attempted to analyze how determinant socioeconomic structures embedded in the dominant society work through the mediations of class and culture to shape the antagonistic experiences of students’ everyday lives. and culture in understanding the complex relations between schools and the dominant society. neo-Marxist resistance theories have not sacrificed theoretical depth for methodological refinement. Radical educators. the work of a number of theorists has been instrumental in providing a rich body of detailed literature that integrates neo-Marxist social theory with ethnographic studies in order to illuminate the dynamics of accommodation and resistance as they work through countercultural groups both inside and outside schools. Consequently.

The lads oppose this ideology because the counter-logic embodied in the families. and workplace. Of course. One key issue posed by this notion of domination is the question. workplaces. and we will mention some of the more outstanding ones here. but also as part of the process of self-formation within the working class itself. Not only do the lads reject the alleged superiority of mental labor. school. neo-Marxist resistance theories are also beset with problems.72 The most powerful example of this mode of resistance is exhibited by the lads in their rejection of the primacy of mental over manual labor. one that offers valuable alternatives to many of the radical models of reproduction analyzed previously. Their singular achievements is the primary importance they allot to critical theory and human agency as the basic categories to be used in analyzing the daily experiences that constitute the internal workings of the school. they also reject its underlying ideology that respect and obedience will be exchanged for knowledge and success. Instead of seeing domination as simply the by-product of external forces—for example. Furthermore. and values of the official and hidden curricula is informed by an ideology of resistance. . Central to theories of resistance is an emphasis on the tensions and conflicts that mediate relationships among home. this work points to a dialectical model of domination.Radical Theories of Schooling 97 that not only serves the interests of domination but also contains aspects which provide emancipatory possibilities. The attempt to link social structures and human agency in order to explore the way they interact in a dialectical manner represents a significant advance in educational theory. theories of resistance have attempted to demonstrate how students who actively reject school culture often display a deeper logic and view of the world that confirms rather than challenges existing capitalist social relations. the roots of which are in the shop-floor cultures occupied by their family members and other members of their class. and street life that make up their culture points to a different and more convincing reality. For example. “How does the logic that promotes varied forms of resistance become implicated in the logic of reproduction?” For example. meanings. Thus. capital or the state— resistance theorists have developed a notion of reproduction in which working class subordination is viewed not only as a result of the structural and ideological constraints embedded in capitalist social relationships. one major contribution that has emerged from resistance studies is the insight that the mechanisms of reproduction are never complete and are always faced with partially realized elements of opposition. Willis demonstrates in his study of the “lads”—a group of working class males who constitute the “counterculture” in an English secondary school—that much of their opposition to the labels.

ongoing. By rejecting intellectual labor. and had attained academic levels equivalent to students who remained in school. Willis’s lads rejected the primacy of mental labor and its ethos of individual appropriation. in part. but in doing so they closed off any possibility of pursuing an emancipatory relationship between knowledge and dissent. By leaving school. a vital theoretical and political transformative stage in our analyses. more specifically. In the concept of cultural production we find the basis for a theory of human agency. the lads discounted the power of critical thinking as a tool of social transformation.”75 There is a certain irony here: while such students were capable of challenging the dominant ideology of the school. This is. They must occupy. the project of showing the capacities of the working class to generate albeit ambiguous. Willis elaborates on this issue. they failed to recognize the limits of their own resistance. and most ready to correct injustice by criticizing or challenging a teacher. not only to think like theorists. these students placed themselves in a structural position that cuts them off from political and social avenues conducive to the task of radical reconstruction. transformative natures of cultures and on the collective ability of social agents. the threatening anarchic power arising from irreverent association…are not merely interesting additions…. and often ironic. theories of resistance point to new ways of constructing a radical pedagogy by developing analyses of the ways in . individual and group projects. These things are central: determined but also determining.74 Fine had assumed that the students who dropped out of these schools were victims of “learned helplessness. but to act like activists. secret illicit and informal knowledge. complex.73 The same logic is displayed by the students in Michelle Fine’s study of drop outs from alternative high schools in New York City’s South Bronx. arguing that the notion of cultural production insists on the active. collective medium of oppressed groups’ experiences.” but she discovered instead that they were the most critical and politically astute students in the alternative schools: “Much to our collective surprise (and dismay) the drop outs were those students who were most likely to identify injustice in their social lives and at school. one that is constructed through the active. collective and cultural forms of knowledge not reducible back to the bourgeois forms and the importance of this as one of the bases for political change. In a more recent work. Life experiences. Another important and distinctive feature of resistance theories is their emphasis on the importance of culture and. The drop outs were least depressed. private fears and fantasies. fully fledged in their own right. cultural production.98 Education Under Siege Two illustrations demonstrate this point.76 As Willis suggests.

The possibility for such a task already exists and is present in the attempt by resistance theorists to view the cultures of subordinate groups as more than simply the by-product of hegemony and defeat. Implicit in such an analysis is the need to develop strategies in schools in which oppositional cultures might be rescued from the processes of incorporation in order to provide the basis for a viable political force. An essential element of such a task. As we have mentioned. not all oppositional behavior has “radical . which has been generally neglected by radical educators. resistance theory assigns an active role to human agency and experience as key mediating links between structural determinants and lived effects. is the development of a radical pedagogy that links a politics of the concrete not just with the processes of reproduction but also with the dynamics of social transformation. Through this process. At the same time. families. the notion of ideological domination as all-encompassing and unitary in its form and content is rejected. and how they tend to become incorporated into the dominant culture and subsequently stripped of their political possibilities. the institutions that serve them. First. Consequently. mass media—are governed by complex ideological properties that often generate contradictions both within and among them. we will make several criticisms which represent starting points for the further development of a critical theory of schooling. Put simply. it becomes possible to analyze what counterhegemonic elements such cultural fields contain. and it is rightly argued that dominant ideologies themselves are often contradictory. This notion is developed through a number of analyses that point to those nonreproductive moments that constitute and support the critical notion of human agency. as are different factions of the ruling classes. they do not adequately conceptualize the historical development of the conditions that promote and reinforce contradictory modes of resistance and struggle. there is the recognition that different spheres or cultural sites—schools. and systems of meaning that inform the cultural terrains of subordinate groups. some of which constitute resistance and some of which do not. In considering the weaknesses in theories of resistance.Radical Theories of Schooling 99 which class and culture combine to offer the outlines for a “cultural politics. and the subordinate groups under their control.77 Another important feature of resistance theory is a deeper understanding of the notion of relative autonomy. rituals.” At the core of such a politics is a semiotic reading of the style. language. although studies of resistance point to those social sites and “spaces” in which the dominant culture is encountered and challenged by subordinate groups. What is missing in this perspective are analyses of those historically and culturally mediated factors that produce a range of oppositional behaviors.

and “femininity. flaunting their sexual preferences for older. compliance. rather than liberating. resistance may be the simple appropriation and display of power. and spending endless amounts of time talking about boys and boyfriends. students may violate school rules. by aggressively asserting their own sexuality.”78 Their opposition takes the form of carving boyfriends’ names on school desks. But in the final analysis. logic. Moreover. The issue here is that there have been too few attempts by educational theorists to understand how subordinate groups embody and express a combination of reactionary and progressive behaviors— behaviors that embody ideologies both underlying the structure of social domination and containing the logic necessary to overcome it. schools become social sites where oppositional behavior is simply played out. Lost from this view is an insight provided by theorists who deal with the hegemonic-state reproductive model: the notion that schools are also repressive institutions that use various . primarily displays an oppressive mode of sexism. and ultimately successful. but might be an expression of power that is fueled by and reproduces the most powerful grammar of domination. It could be argued that this type of Oppositional behavior. on one level. Under such circumstances. This is not to say that such behavior can simply be written off as reactionary. Its organizing principle appears to be linked to social practices informed by the objective of developing a sexual. Resistance theories have gone too far in viewing schools as institutions characterized exclusively by forms of ideological domination.” nor is all oppositional behavior a clear-cut response to domination. marriage. but the logic that informs such behavior may be rooted in forms of ideological hegemony such as racism and sexism. it appears to underscore a logic that has little to do with resistance to school norms and a great deal to do with the sexism that characterizes working class life and mass culture in general. Thus.100 Education Under Siege significance. wearing makeup and tight-fitting clothes. this type of opposition is informed by a dominating. For example. This leads to a related issue. and may manifest itself through the interests and discourse of the worst aspects of capitalist rationality. rather than suggesting resistance. the fact that these young women are acting collectively and attempting to define for themselves what they want out of life contains an emancipatory moment. Oppositional behavior may not be simply a reaction to powerlessness. the source of such hegemony often originates outside of the school. This becomes clearer in Angela McRobbie’s account of sixth-form female students in England who. passivity. more mature boys. appear to be rejecting the official ideology of the school with its sexually repressive emphasis on neatness. emerging less as a critique of schooling than as an expression of dominant ideology. Obviously. Thus.

oppositional behaviors are produced amid contradictory discourses and values. when analyzing domination. its contradictory nature is usually not analyzed seriously. On the other hand. The point here is that resistance theories must recognize that in some cases students may be totally indifferent to the dominant ideology of the school with its respective rewards and demands. on the one hand. This raises a number of important problems that future analyses must resolve. the portrayals of schools. of course.Radical Theories of Schooling 101 coercive state agencies. including the police and the courts. In short.80 This has meant that women are either disregarded altogether or are included only in terms that echo the sentiments of the male countercultural groups being portrayed. and mediated in schools represents an important area of continuing research.79 A second weakness in theories of resistance is that they rarely take into account issues of gender and race. As a number of feminists have pointed out. gender. struggle. When resistance is discussed.and . though in different degrees. and schooling. working class students. be linked to interests that are class-. nor is the contradictory consciousness of the students and teachers treated dialectically. and classroom pedagogy often appear too homogeneous and static to be taken seriously. when domination is stressed in such studies. to enforce involuntary school attendance. Another problem is that these studies contain no theoretical room for exploring forms of resistance that are race. Their behavior in school may be fueled by ideological imperatives that signify issues and concerns that have very little to do with school directly. How the dynamics of these forms are interconnected. generally ignore women and gender issues and focus instead on males and class issues. we must place it in a wider context to see how it is mediated and articulated in the culture of such oppositional groups. Women. resistance studies. Because of a failure to understand the dialectical nature of resistance. is that domination is not singularly informed or exhausted by the logic of class oppression. One problem is that such studies have failed to account for the notion of patriarchy as a mode of domination that both cuts across various social sites and mediates between men and women within and between different social class formations. To understand the nature of such resistance. it may express the repressive moments inscribed in such behavior by the dominant culture rather than a message of protest against their existence. The logic that informs a given act of resistance may. The point here. School simply becomes the place where the oppositional nature of these concerns is expressed. For instance. reproduced. nor does it affect men and women in similar ways. most theories of education have treated the concept somewhat superficially. experience dual forms of domination in both the home and the workplace.or race-specific.

if we view these acts as practices involving a conscious or semiconscious political response to school-constructed relations of domination. is that they have focused primarily on overt acts of rebellious student behavior. alienating labor that most of the showy rebels will eventually occupy. But what is of major importance here is that any other alternative seems ideologically naive and limits whatever transcendent hopes for the future these students may have. The irony here is that a large amount of neo-Marxist work on resistance. but that have the potential to be politically progressive in the long run. Needless to say. opting for modes of resistance that are quietly subversive in the most immediate sense. as Jim Walker points out. use collective pressure to draw teachers away from class lessons. Each type of behavior can indicate a form of resistance if it emerges out of a latent or overt ideological condemnation of the underlying repressive ideologies that characterize schools in general. ends up contributing to the reproduction of sexist and racist attitudes and practices. They have not renounced access to knowledge and skills that may allow them to move beyond the class-specific positions of dead-end.82 What resistance theorists have failed to acknowledge is that some students are able to see through the lies and promises of the dominant school ideology but decide not to translate this insight into extreme forms of rebelliousness. These students may use humor to disrupt a class. particularly as these mediate the sexual and social divisions of labor in various social sites such as schools.83 It is the tension between the present reality of their lives and their . The failure to include women and racial minorities in such studies has resulted in a rather uncritical theoretical tendency to romanticize modes of resistance even when they contain reactionary racial and gender views. some students minimize their participation in routine school practices while simultaneously displaying outward conformity to the school’s ideology. then these students are resisting school ideology in a manner that gives them the power to reject the system on a level that will not make them powerless to protest it in the future. For example. That is. they may also go through school on their own terms and still face limited opportunities in the future. or purposely ignore the teacher’s directions while attempting to develop collective spaces that allow them to escape the ethos of individualism permeating school life.102 Education Under Siege gender-specific. although allegedly committed to emancipatory concerns.81 By so limiting their analyses. resistance theorists have ignored less obvious forms of resistance among students and have often misconstrued the political value of overt resistance. A third weakness characterizing theories of resistance. In some cases the reason for this decision may be an understanding that overt rebelliousness may result in powerlessness now and in the future.

”84 it will be exceptionally difficult to understand how schools function to incorporate people. in some case students may not be aware of the political grounds of their position toward school. aggressive. A critical psychology is needed that points to the way in which “un-freedom” reproduces itself in the psyche of human beings. different races. educators have no way of understanding the grip and force of alienating social structures as they . the most important basis for a theory of radical educational praxis. in our minds. without a theory of radical needs and critical psychology. Part of the solution to this problem may lie in uncovering the genesis and operation of those socially constructed needs that tie people to larger structures of domination. Put another way. or.Radical Theories of Schooling 103 willingness to dream of a better world that makes such students potential political leaders. in other words. the generations. eros. Even this vague understanding and its attendant behavior portend a politically progressive logic. an aesthetic sensibility. solidarity. and humanity and nature. Radical educators have shown a lamentable tendency to ignore the question of needs and desires in favor of issues that center around ideology and consciousness. We are concerned here with such radical needs as those that represent the vital drive toward new relationships between men and women. calculable greed of capitalist interests. how hegemonic ideologies function to exclude oppressed groups from creating needs that extend beyond the instrumental logic of the market. A fourth weakness of theories of resistance is that they have not given enough attention to the issue of how domination reaches into the structure of personality itself. More specifically. and emancipatory freedoms for the egoistic. We need to understand how dominating ideologies prevent many-sided needs from developing in the oppressed. except for a general awareness of its dominating nature and the need to somehow escape from it without relegating themselves to a future they do not want. Until educators can point to possibilities for the development of “radical needs that both challenge the existing system of interest and production and point to an emancipated society. There is little concern with the often contradictory relation between understanding and action. or what that might mean to the establishment of a basis for critical thinking and responsible action. Alienating need structures—those dimensions of our psyche and personality that tie us to social practices and relationships that perpetuate systems of exploitation and the servitude of humanity—represent one of the most crucial areas from which to address a radical pedagogy. a logic that needs to be incorporated into a theory of resistance. The question of the historical genesis and transformation of needs constitutes. Of course. we need to understand how to substitute radical needs organized around the desire for meaningful work.

104 Education Under Siege manifest themselves in the lived but often non-discursive aspects of everyday life. Concomitantly. The concept of resistance. It is also clear that a rationale for employing the concept needs to be considered more fully. but a great deal to do with moral and political indignation. In the most general sense. First. it provides a new means for understanding the complex ways in which subordinate groups experience educational failure. Resistance in this case redefines the causes and meaning of oppositional behavior by arguing that it has little to do with deviance and learned helplessness. represents more than a new heuristic catchword in the language of radical pedagogy.85 TOWARD A THEORY OF RESISTANCE Resistance is a valuable theoretical and ideological construct that provides an important focus for analyzing the relationship between school and the wider society. the oppressed are not seen as being simply passive in the face of domination. It is imperative that educators be more precise about what resistance actually is and what it is not. pointing to new ways of thinking about and restructuring modes of critical pedagogy. resistance must be grounded in a theoretical rationale that provides a new framework for examining schools as social sites which structure the experiences of subordinate groups. The notion of resistance points to the need to understand more thoroughly the complex ways in which people mediate and respond to the connection between their own experiences and . As we have noted. More importantly. in other words. it depicts a mode of discourse that rejects traditional explanations of school failure and oppositional behavior and shifts the analysis of oppositional behavior from the theoretical terrains of functionalism and mainstream educational psychology to those of political science and sociology. Aside from shifting the theoretical ground for analyzing oppositional behavior. and be more specific about how the concept can be used to develop a critical pedagogy. it celebrates a dialectical notion of human agency that rightly portrays domination as a process that is neither static nor complete. the current use of the concept of resistance by radical educators suggests a lack of intellectual rigor and an overdose of theoretical sloppiness. the concept of resistance points to a number of assumptions and concerns about schooling that are generally neglected in both traditional views of schooling and radical theories of reproduction. We will now discuss these issues and briefly outline some basic theoretical concerns for developing a more intellectually rigorous and politically useful foundation for pursuing such a task.

rather than challenging. Of course. the nature and meaning of an act of resistance must be defined by the degree to which it contains possibilities to develop what Herbert Marcuse termed “a commitment to an emancipation of sensibility.Radical Theories of Schooling 105 structures of domination and constraint. but also as an act of resistance. implicity or explicity. the logic of ideological domination. In addition to developing a rationale for the notion of resistance. a counter-logic. consciousness. and the nature and value of nondiscursive behavior. that must be analyzed to reveal its underlying interest in freedom and its rejection of those forms of domination inherent in the social relations against which it reacts. Last. the need to struggle against domination and submission. it is exercised not only as a mode of domination. it does not fall under the category of resistance. the meaning of common sense. That is. this is a rather general set of standards upon which to ground the notion of resistance. Thus. power is never unidimensional. inherent in a radical notion of resistance is an expressed hope for radical transformation. In other words. Central categories that emerge in a theory of resistance are intentionality. we think resistance must be situated in a perspective that takes the notion of emancipation as its guiding interest. resistance adds new depth to the notion that power is exercised on and by people within different contexts that structure interacting relations of dominance and autonomy. the concept of resistance represents an element of difference. In other words.”86 Thus. Second. an element of transcendence that seems to be missing in radical theories of education which appear trapped in the theoretical cemetery of Orwellian pessimism. In the most general sense. the central element of analyzing any act of resistance must be a concern with uncovering the degree to which it highlights. imagination and reason in all spheres of subjectivity and objectivity. the concept of resistance must have a revealing function that contains a critique of domination and provides theoretical opportunities for self-reflection and struggle in the interest of social and self-emancipation. . The value of the concept of resistance lies in its critical function and in its potential to utilize both the radical possibilities embedded in its own logic and the interests contained in the object of its expression. but it does provide a notion of interest and a theoretical scaffold upon which to make a distinction between forms of oppositional behavior that can be used for either the amelioration of human life or for the destruction and denigration of basic human values. there is a need to formulate criteria against which the term can be defined as a central category of analysis in theories of schooling. but under its opposite—accommodation and conformism. To the degree that oppositional behavior suppresses social contradictions while simultaneously merging with.

” On the contrary. in fact. it is equally important to argue that all forms of oppositional behavior represent a focal point for critical analysis and should be analyzed to see if they represent a form of resistance by uncovering their emancipatory interests. In these cases. or the interpretation may be distorted. since the other two areas are self-explanatory. there is no logical. The behaviors displayed do not speak for themselves. Of course. Let us now return to the question of how we define resistance and view oppositional behavior. committing acts of resistance. It follows from our argument that the interests underlying a specific form of behavior may become clear once the nature of that behavior is interpreted by the person who exhibits it. On one level. She also claimed that teachers who do not adequately prepare for their classroom lessons are participating in a form of resistance as well. But we do not mean to imply that such interests will automatically be revealed. or dig deeply into the historical and relational conditions from which the behavior develops. the workplace. or the church. it is important to be theoretically precise about which forms of oppositional behavior constitute resistance and which do not.106 Education Under Siege Some acts of resistance reveal quite visibly their radical potential. We want to stress that the concept of resistance must not be allowed to become a category indiscriminately hung over every expression of “oppositional behavior. Only then will the interest embedded in such behavior be open to interrogation. one must either link the behavior under analysis with an interpretation provided by the subjects themselves. we heard a “radical” educator argue that teachers who rush home early after school are. This is a matter of theoretical . it is equally debatable that the teachers in question are simply lazy or care very little about teaching. and that what in fact is being displayed is not resistance but unprofessional and unethical behavior. In this case. the interest underlying such behavior may be illuminated against the backdrop of social practices and values from which the behavior emerges. convincing response to either argument. still others may reveal nothing more than an affinity for the logic of domination and destruction. it must become an analytical construct and mode of inquiry that is selfcritical and sensitive to its own interests—radical consciousness-raising and collective critical action. To call them resistance is to turn the concept into a term that has no analytical precision. Individuals may not be able to explain the reasons for their behavior. Recently. It is the ambiguous area that we want to analyze briefly. On another level. and to the implications for making such distinctions. the collective values of a peer group. Such a referent may be found in the historical conditions that prompted the behavior. In cases like these. while others are rather ambiguous. or the practices embedded in other social sites such as the family.

must recognize that student resistance in all of its forms represents manifestations of struggle and solidarity that. In effect.Radical Theories of Schooling 107 preciseness and definition. A radical pedagogy. going beyond the immediacy of behavior to the interest that underlies its often hidden logic. in part. as a matter of radical strategy. The pedagogical value of resistance lies. but also by analyzing school cultures within the shifting terrain of struggle and contestation. whether actually resistance or not. more importantly. then. social relations and experiences among students from dominant. all forms of oppositional behavior. We will now briefly discuss the value of a dialectical notion of resistance for a critical theory of schooling. teachers. and often antagonistic. Finally. Thus. and social relations within the context of antagonistic relations and examines them within the interplay of dominant and subordinate school cultures. must be examined for their possible use as a basis for critical analysis. on the one hand. Resistance theory rejects the idea that schools are simply instructional sites by not only politicizing the notion of culture. and students around the issues of power and social determination. On a more philosophical level. Thus. oppositional behavior becomes the object of both theoretical clarification and the subject of pedagogical considerations. and subordinate cultures. On the other hand. a logic that also must be interpreted through the historical and cultural mediations that shape it. we want to emphasize that the ultimate value of the notion of resistance must be measured not only by the degree to which it promotes critical thinking and reflective action but. this represents a new theoretical framework for understanding the process of schooling which places educational knowledge. resistance must be viewed from a theoretical starting point that links the display of behavior to the interest it embodies. both . it highlights the need for radical educators to unravel how oppositional behavior often emerges within forms of contradictory consciousness that are never free from the reproductive rationality embedded in capitalist social relations. When a theory of resistance is incorporated into radical pedagogy. by the degree to which it contains the possibility of galvanizing collective political struggle among parents. Resistance theory highlights the complexity of student responses to the logic of schooling. Within this mode of critical analysis. it becomes possible to illuminate how students draw on the limited resources at their disposal in order to reaffirm the positive dimensions of their own cultures and histories. in their incompleteness. and culture and the process of self-formation on the other. in the connections it makes between structure and human agency. we want to stress that the theoretical construct of resistance rejects the positivist notion that the meaning of behavior is synonymous with a literal reading based on immediate action. values. Instead. elements of oppositional behavior in schools become the focal point for analyzing different.

and the shopfloor culture. the bars. Finally. What is most important is the willingness of radical educators to search for the emancipatory interests that underlie such resistance and to make them visible to students and others so that they can become the object of debate and political analysis. This means that any viable form of radical pedagogy must analyze how the relations of domination in schools originate. This means looking beyond schools. analytical discourse. whereas within middle class culture. It suggests taking seriously the counter-logic that pulls students away from schools into the streets. A theory of resistance is central to the development of a radical pedagogy for other reasons as well. For example. resistance theory reveals the ideology underlying such a curriculum. Knowledge in the working class culture is often constructed on the principles of solidarity and sharing. . and modes of evaluation. it points to the ideology underlying the hegemonic curriculum. For many working class students. It helps bring into focus those social practices in schools whose ultimate aim is the control of both the learning process and the capacity for critical thought and action. and how this emphasis drives a wedge between students from different social classes. these terrains appear to represent less a form of resistance than an expression of solidarity and self-affirmation. particularly those embedded in its curriculum.108 Education Under Siege challenge and confirm capitalist hegemony. and learning through collective practice. in particular. In short. these realms are “real time” as opposed to the “dead time” they often experience in schools. What is most important is that resistance theory reinforces the need for radical educators to decipher how the forms of cultural production displayed by subordinate groups can be analyzed to reveal both their limitations and their possibilities for enabling critical thinking. relate to them. and particularly to the way in which this curriculum marginalizes or disqualifies working class knowledge as well as knowledge about women and minorities. with its emphasis on individual rather than collective appropriation of knowledge. Furthermore. resistance theory calls attention to the need for radical educators to unravel the ideological interests embedded in the various message systems of the school. The social spheres that make up this counter-logic may represent the few remaining terrains that provide the oppressed with the possibility of human agency and autonomy. how they are sustained. and how students. systems of instruction. This is particularly evident in the different approaches to knowledge supported in many working class and middle class families. knowledge is forged in individual competition and is seen as a badge of separateness. to its hierarchically organized bodies of knowledge. Yet. resistance theory suggests that radical educators must develop a critical rather than a pragmatic relationship with students.

Culture and the Process of Schooling (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Furthermore. and reproduced in daily life. this counter-logic must be seen as an important theoretical terrain in which one finds fleeting images of freedom that point to fundamentally new structures in the public organization of experience. In other words. and Schooling (Sussex. Thus. if the language of possibility is to become a constitutive part of radical educational theory. Ideology and Curriculum (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1979). one that appropriates the most critical dimensions of Marxist theory while simultaneously moving beyond it. Ideology. 532. Len Barton. 1977). For a critical analysis of the significance of Marx’s notion of reproduction in social theory. it also needs to develop a new discourse. 1977). Eng. and how do we make them critical so as to make them emancipatory? But the basis for a radical pedagogy demands more than the development of a theory of resistance. Geoff Whitty and Michael Young. Martin’s Press. Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis. trans. Press. Frank Bryant (New York: St. it provides educators with an opportunity to link the political with the personal in order to understand how power is mediated. Schooling in Capitalist America (New York: Basic Books. Yet. Willis. How do we develop a radical pedagogy that makes schools meaningful so as to make them critical. it situates the relationship between schools and the larger society within a theoretical framework informed by a fundamentally political question. it represents an important terrain in the ideological battle for the appropriation of meaning and experience. Eng. Class . Society. 1980).: Falmer Press. State. The Survival of Capitalism.: Falmer Press. 1973). For a critical review of the literature on schooling that takes the notion of reproduction as its starting point see Michael Apple. 531. Marx. But as an object of pedagogical analysis. “Cultural Production and Theories of Reproduction. 2.Giroux. it must be supported by radical educators and others from both inside and outside of schools. On the contrary. 1981).. 1969). For this reason. Ideology and Curriculum (Sussex.Radical Theories of Schooling 109 The pull of this counter-logic must be critically engaged and built into the framework of a radical pedagogy.” in Race.. ed. see Henri Lefebvre. this is not to suggest that it must be absorbed into a theory of schooling. ed. NOTES 1. Schooling. 3. I (Moscow: Progress Publishers. Roland Meighan. resisted. Henry A. and Stephen Walker. Inherent in the oppositional public spheres that constitute a counterlogic are the conditions around which the oppressed organize important needs and relations. pp. This the the issue we will deal with in the next chapter. it will have to ground itself in a theoretical discourse that draws expansively from a number of radical traditions. Capital.

The Hidden Curriculum and Moral Education (Berkeley. 1981). James Benet and Arlene Kaplan Daniels (New York: Transaction Books. pp.Ashenden. Nicos Poulantzas. Pierre Bourdieu and Jean Claude Passeron. 1983).Giroux and David Purpel.” Journal of Education 162 (1980).” in Education: Straitjacket or Opportunity. “Classroom Management.: Univ. 9. Kathleen Wilcox and Pia Moriarity. 12.” Theory and Research in Social Education 7 (1979). Henry A. 21–42. Paul Olson. 110. Student Opposition. ed. 67–79. Politics. Women’s Study Group. 4. Education and Power (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.: McCutchan. 11. “The Secondary School’s Role in Social Stratification: A Comparison of Beverly Hills High School and Morningside High School. 1983). 13.. Theory and Resistance in Education (South Hadley. ed. Wis. The Limits of Educational Reform (New York: McKay. “Social Education in the Classroom: The Dynamics of the Hidden Curriculum. 83–112.Timothy Weaver. Classes in Contemporary Society (London: Verso Books. Press. 1978). 1978). Calif. 1979). Henry A. op.Giroux and Anthony N. Knuckle Sandwich: Growing Up in a Working Class City (London: Pelican Books. “Inequality Remade: The Theory of Correspondence and the Context of French Immersion in Northern Ontario. 1981). 1980). Mass.Dowsett. pp. “The Hidden Curriculum and the Nature of Conflict.Penna. 1982). Paul Corrigan. Women Take Issue (London: Hutchinson. Jean . Jean Anyon. 1976). 1983). Stanley Aronowitz. pp. Richard Bates. 27–40. and Culture (Beverly Hills. cit. Mass. 6. W.Connell. and Curriculum (London: Open Univ. p.” Journal of Education 162 (1980). Ideology. Paul Willis. Martin Carnoy and Henry Levin. Robert W. pp. The Contest for Educational Resources (Lexington. Braverman. Roslyn Arlin Mickelson.: Sage. Henry A.: Lexington Books. Thomas Popkewitz. “Marx. pp. Reproduction in Education.. Len Barton and Stephen Walker (London: Croom-Helm. “Schooling and Work: Social Constraints on Educational Opportunity. 67–92.Everhart.” Interchange 2 (1971). Bowles and Gintis. pp. Calif. 7. Society. “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work. pp.110 Education Under Siege and Education.” The Insurgent Sociologist 8 (1977). 126–146. “New Developments in the New Sociology of Education. Schooling and the Smash Street Kids (London: Macmillan. Learning to Labor (New York: Columbia University Press. Michael Apple and Lois Weiss (Philadelphia: Temple Univ.Giroux. 1982). Dean J. 1983). David Robins and Philip Cohen. and the Labor Process” in Ideology and Practice in Schooling. and the Logic of Capital. Robert B. Geoff Whitty. 75–78. Angela McRobbie and Trisha McCabe. 1982). Press. 5. Making The Difference (Sydney: Allen & Unwin. Michael Apple. Sandra Kessler.: Bergin and Garvey. B. ed.” Journal of Education 165 (1983). ed. ed. and Gary Wehlage. Feminism for Girls (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.” British Journal of Sociology of Education 1 (1980). 1977). Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. 10. 1978). of Wisconsin Press. The Myth of Educational Reform (Madison. and Gary W.Robert Tabachnick. 1982). 8. 1981). Representative examples include Michael Apple.

p. and Other Essays. and consciousness that are compatible with ideologies and social practices that perpetuate existing practices of domination and oppression. and Joshua Brown. “Cracks in the Bloc: American Labor’s Historic Compromise and the Present Crisis. pp. 361–386. 1970). 31. p.” Radical History Review 25 (1981). pp.. 1977). “How Illiteracy Became a Problem and Literacy Stopped Being One. Althusser. Press. pp. Connell et al. 28. “Symbolic Power. 16. 3–42. Bourdieu and Passeron. p. while Bourdieu and his associates have demonstrated how the hegemonic curriculum works in France’s system of higher education. pp.. 27.” Interchange 12 (1981).” p. “Social Class and School Knowledge.” Journal of Education 165 (1983). 1971). 29. It must be noted that the pioneering work in this area was done by Paulo Freire. Hegemonic as it is used here refers to elements of unconsciousness. Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Seabury Press. 233. Bourdieu. Making the Difference. 19. p. See Henry A. For Marx (New York: Vintage Books. pp. 25. p. 77–85. 21. “The School as a Conservative Force: Scholastic and Cultural Inequalities. 35–52. and “Ideology and the Ideological State Apparatuses. Ibid.. pp. Reproduction. 22. James Donald. common sense. trans. Reproduction. Stanley Aronowitz.” in Contemporary Research in the Sociology of Education. “Symbolic Power. Ibid. pp. 3–26. “Ideology and United States History Textbooks. Reproduction. Outline of Theory and Practice.” p. 18. For an illuminating analysis of this issue see Jean Anyon. 1974).Giroux. 26. This is discussed in greater detail in Giroux. 178. The curriculum is hegemonic in that it functions to exclude large numbers of students who are from subordinate classes. 39. 131. “Men and . Bourdieu.” Social Text 5 (1982). 30. John Eggleston (London: Methuen. The hegemonic curriculum refers to the way in which “schools are organized around a particular organization of learning and content…. For Marx. Bourdieu and Passeron.” Critique of Anthropology 4 (1979). 1971). Reading Capital (London: New Left Books. “Into the Minds of Babes: A Journey Through Recent Children’s History Books. Ben Brewster (New York: Monthly Review Press. Bowles and Gintis. Althusser.Radical Theories of Schooling 111 Anyon. L’Ecole Capitaliste en France (Paris: Maspero. were the first to use the term. 162. 14. 22–52.” Harvard Educational Review 49 (1979).” Curriculum Inquiry 11 (1981). 120). 1970). Althusser. Bourdieu. ed. Theory and Resistance. pp. Bourdieu and Passeron. “Ideological State Apparatuses. 17.: Cambridge Univ. Outline of Theory and Practice (Cambridge. Bourdieu. 148–158. Baudelot and Establet. p. 24. 30. Althusser. 23.” in his Lenin and Philosophy. Bourdieu. Bourdieu. The crucial features of this curriculum are hierarchically organized bodies of academic knowledge appropriated in individual competition” (Connell et al. 15. 1969). 32. 132. “Hegemony. Eng. Althusser. 20. and the Paradox of Educational Reform. Resistance. 127– 145.

1979). 1980). 60. 42. 94. 1979). p.” in Cultural and Economic Reproduction in Education. James O’Connor. 52. “Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction. 1979). Martin’s Press. 1980). 305. and Education (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 34. 40. Education. The Inheritors: French Students and Their Relations to Culture (Chicago: Univ. Class Language. . 49. Outline of Theory and Practice. “The Economics of Linguistic Exchanges. 645–668. Education. See esp. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Smith (New York: International Publishers. eds. 1973). esp. 43. Dale. pp. 1971).” in Cultural and Economic Reproduction in Education. p.Connell. the Family. 47.” p.” Journal of Education 164 (1981). Davies. Nicos Poulantzas. pp. and Bourdieu and Passeron. Eng. and trans. Karin KnorrCetina and Aaron V. pp. p. Noelle Bisseret. Madan Sarup. p. Power and Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings.Ashenden. Bourdieu. Selections from Prison Notebooks. pp. ed. Political Power and Social Classes (London: New Left Books.Cicourel (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.” Social Science Information 16 (1977). Some representative examples include Ralph Miliband. Popular Culture. 33. 102–117. Colin Gordon (New York: Pantheon. The State. Class. 157. Dowsett. Geoff Easland. 1982). 38. State and Crisis (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Jerome Karabel and Albert H. 46. This is a small but growing and important body of literature.. 45. 1982).” p. 48. Apple. ed. “Education and the Capitalist State: Contributions and Contradictions. 35. This is particularly true in Bourdieu and Passeron’s Reproduction. “Men and Machines. 1981). Press.” in Advances in Social Theory and Methodology. 1981).: Falmer Press.” in Power and Ideology in Education. Mariam E. 51. 45. Sieber. Goran Therborn. Foucault. 1980). Press. “Reproduction and Contradiction in Education. 1980). 1962). 44. State Formation. It must be stressed that the most important work on the politics of the body is to be found in Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Gramsci. 37.David. p. What Does the Ruling Class Do When it Rules (London: New Left Books. Bourdieu.112 Education Under Siege Machines. “Men and Machines. 67–199.Halsey (New York: Oxford Univ. and Schooling (London: Open Univ. 1969). 1978). Bourdieu. 314. 36. ed. ed.. p. 41. ed. Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron. Reproduction. 1973). Bourdieu. ed. and Madeleine Macdonald. Bourdieu. Education and Power. Robert W. Education and the State. Bourdieu. and Gary W. 39. Sieber. Sandra Kessler. Phenomenology of Perception (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 30–47. I and II (Sussex. Outline of Theory and Practice. “Class and Gender Dynamics in a Ruling Class School. The State in Capitalist Society (New York: Basic Books. 50. and Classes in Contemporary Society. The Fiscal Crisis of the State (New York: St. and Ideology (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Among the more recent works are Roger Dale. 14. 83. Capitalism. Dean J. Philip Corrigan. Michael Apple (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Apple. and Marxist Theory (London: Quartet Books. “The Politics of Middle-Class Success in an Inner-City School.” Interchange 12 (1981). of Chicago Press.

Radical Theories of Schooling 113 53. “Education and the Capitalist State. Representative examples of the ethnographic literature in the United States include Howard Becker. Rinehart and Winston. For an important discussion of Marxist theories of the State and the issue of relative autonomy. “Hegemony and Education. Boys in White (Chicago: Univ. “The State as a Relation of Production. hegemony is an active process realized as an uneven and tenuous situation and outcome through which oppositional forces are either accommodated. 63. pp. and Derek Sayer.” in Gramsci and Marxist Theory. Hightown Grammar (Manchester: Manchester Univ. Ramsey. 65. Education and Power. Ethnography of Schooling (New York: Holt. “Green Paper. ed. Classes in Contemporary Society. ed. Gramsci. 1979).” Psychology and Social Theory 3 (1982). constrained. 55. 56. Rebellion in a High School (New York: Quadrangle Books. pp. The Man in the Principal’s Office: An Ethnography (New York: Holt. Poulantzas. “State Power and Class Interests. Poulantzas. “The Theoretical Poverty or the Poverty of Theory. Roger Dale. “Education. Rinehart and Winston. Philip Corrigan. see Ralph Miliband. Press. on the contrary.” in Cultural and Economic Reproduction in Education. 70. 66. 64.” in Capitalism. 13–49. 21. 1980). Social Relations in a Secondary School (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. James Donald. George Spindler. 1964).” Economy and Society 8 (1979). see also Philip Wexler and Tony Whitson. Colin Lacey. State Formation and Marxist Theory. “Green Paper: Noise of a Crisis. Ramsey. 1980). Arthur Stinchombe. pp. Hegemony and Revolution: A Study of Antonio Gramsci’s Political and Cultural Theory (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press. 61. See. Corrigan. The Divided School (London: . 60. Harvie Ramsey.” New Left Review 138 (1983). pp. pp. p. Gramsci.” p. 31–42. 127–186. 1970). 244. 137–147. pp. or defeated. Dale. Education and Power. Martin Carnoy. 95.” New German Critique 6 (1975). 17. pp. Althusser. 54–55. McRobbie and McCabe. Corrigan. Robins and Cohen. 259–270. Peter Woods. 182–183. 69. 54. Offe and Ronge. 21. Harry Wolcott. 383–416. Feminism for Girls. 68. Knuckle Sandwich. 62.. Kenneth Neild and John Seed. “Thesis on the Theory of the State. 1961). quoted in Donald. pp. 57–58.” pp. Apple. Apple. 1982). “Ideological State Apparatuses. Learning to Labor. of Chicago Press. Willis. “Hegemony and Ideology in Gramsci. 1973). 146–147. 58. Dick Hebdige. p. ed. Poulantzas. 10. It is important to stress that hegemony is not a static concept. 57–68. p. Subculture: The Meaning of Style (London: Methuen. See esp. 57. Chantal Mouffe. pp. 71. Classes in Contemporary Society. Economy and the State”. Chantal Mouffe (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Philip Corrigan (London: Quartet Books. and Sayer. Works from England include David Hargreaves. p. The relationship between hegemony and political education is treated extensively in Walter Adamson. 59.” Screen Education 30 (1979). pp. 1967). and Sayer. 1980). 67. for example. p.

1982. Angela McRobbie. 1979). Telos 33 (1977). Material in this chapter is adopted from Theory and Resistance in Education (South Hadley. pp. Press. review of Theory and Need in Marx. 8 and 9. Wendy Hollway. 320–329. 72. “Work Experience as the Production of Subjectivity. 130–137.” Journal of Education (forthcoming). 1973). 77. Walker. 1982). for example. “Children’s Play as a Form of Resistance in the Classroom. Learning to Labor. 1981). Suburban Youth in Cultural Crisis (New York: Oxford University Press. pp. “Cultural Production and Theories of Reproduction. chs. Mass.” in Critical Pedagogy and Cultural Power. Unpublished manuscript. 37–49.” in Women Take Issue. Stephen Ball. 84. Learning to Labor. and Russell Jacoby.” Journal of Education 164 (1982). 1983). (South Hadley. p. 80. 114. 1979). 5. Learning to Labor. pp. 79. The Aesthetic Dimension (Boston: Beacon Press. pp. Angela McRobbie. 6. There is a certain irony in that these articles are organized around the concept of resistance without ever providing a rigorous theoretical definition of what the term means. Social Amnesia (Boston: Beacon Press. “Working Class Girls and the Culture of Femininity. see the following: Julian Henriques. ch. Changing the Subject (New York: Methuen.” p. Cathy Vrmin. Willis. 86.” Journal of Education (forthcoming). 73. 75. Beachside Comprehensive: A Case Study of Secondary Schooling (London: Cambridge Univ. “Settling Accounts with Subcultures. Couze Venn. Willis.” Screen Education 34 (1980).: Bergin & Garvey. see the differing interpretations by Richard Lichtman. For an excellent analysis of the relationship between Marxist theory and psychoanalysis. pp. Learning to Labor. 85. See. The Production of Desire (New York: Free Press. ed. 1984). Jean Cohen.” Univ.114 Education Under Siege Routledge & Kegan Paul. Fine. Willis. It is important to stress that the opposition displayed by a subordinate group must be seen not only as a form of resistance but also as an expression of a group’s struggle to constitute its social identity. “Examining Inequity: View From Urban Schools. 170–184. by Agnes Heller. A representative example of the work we are criticizing can be found in Nancy King. For a more informative and recent analysis of the critical potential that poststructuralist psychology can make to a critical pedagogy. 74. Valeric Suransky. Marcuse. 99–116. 76. pp. Mass.. 81. “Rebels With Our Applause: A Critique of Resistance Theories. of Pennsylvania. and Valeric Walkerdinc. Connell et al. 83. David Livingstone. forthcoming). . “Tale of Rebellion and Resistance: The Landscape of Early Institutional Life. Willis.: Bergin & Garvey. and Ralph Larkin. See Willis. 78. 89–116. 82. Roger Simon. Fine. 1977). Making The Difference.

not to mention Marxist theory itself. In our view. it has also essentially developed into the production of a plethora of discourses. Success breeds its own problems. along with standbys such as Marxist-Leninism. One needs to consult a consumer’s guide to keep abreast of the latest Marxist offerings that tumble out from the publishing houses and university symposiums. Marxist theory has exercised a major influence on the development of radical theories of schooling.SIX Radical Pedagogy and the Legacy of Marxist Discourse AS WE POINTED out in the last chapter. many of which have been used to redefine the way radicals view a host of academic disciplines. Antonio 115 . An unsettling and unsettled paradox has accompanied the revival of Marxist theory and its influence on areas such as educational theory and practice. First. feminist Marxism. the nature of the crisis is defined by two different but related issues. postMarxism. George Lukacs. What becomes evident even to the casual observer is that the notion of a unifying and homogeneous Marxist discourse belongs to history. so has the magnitude of the crisis that besets it. The paradox lies in the fact that as the literature and influence of Marxism have grown. semiotic Marxism. and other sections of the world.1 On the surface. and so forth. political. Karl Korsch. In many respects. As one surveys the offerings. there is the attempt by intellectuals of various Marxist persuasions to confront the changing social. this influence has been part of a wider revival of Marxist thought that has been going on in the United States. and economic conditions of the twentieth century by either revising Marxist thought or by “returning to Marx” in order to unravel a new insight or undiscovered truth for understanding the existing social reality. phenomenological Marxism. this Marxist revival has generated not only various “new” readings of Marx’s work. hermeneutical Marxism. the theoretical landscape appears cluttered with structural Marxism. Capitalizing on a history of “critical” revisionist Marxist theory that draws from such luminaries as Rosa Luxemburg. Trotskyism. Europe.

and postMarxists to produce many variations on traditional orthodox concerns. it is now confronted by a series of social. workers. political. this approach is characterized largely by an attempt to develop a perspective on struggle and emancipation that stays within a Marxist paradigm and discourse.” In this case. in the final analysis. and economy fail to address or change the new social antagonisms that exist in society. but as a critical “way of seeing. history. The struggle for power appears to have been reduced to merely the struggle over meaning. and various social movements. In other words. it has also shifted the nature of the struggle from the terrain of everyday life and the streets to the lecture halls and classrooms of the university.. Underlying the crisis that confronts this approach are a plethora of discourses that remain abstracted from the terrain of power and struggle. This is not meant to attack the importance of theory production as much as to argue against the severing of theory as a political endeavor from the task of creating an organic connection with excluded majorities. one that is . i. and the appearance of new social movements that have redefined the meaning of domination and emancipation appear to have dealt Marxism in all of its forms a devestating blow. but also reveal the limitations of more recent Marxist developments that have produced a critical assessment of the original theory. one that is informed by the legacy of a critical Marxism but that. racial minorities. there is the failure to recognize that the basis for generating a new critical and radical theory appropriate to the problems and lived experiences of the twentieth century demands a new discourse. which have always been dominated by a rigid economism. the primacy of universal categories is replaced by a discourse linked to the spirit of critical inquiry. the Frankfurt School and others. they also fail to interrogate critically Marxism’s own complicity with the rationality of domination. has to break with its most fundamental assumptions and. The failure of the working class to assume the role of the historical agent of revolution. Secondly. and economic events that not only indict its orthodox or classical strains. the failure of existing socialisms in eastern Europe and other parts of the world to provide and demonstrate an emancipatory vision. break with Marxism as the master discourse of any emancipatory project. especially in the case of radical educational theory. What we are suggesting is that while the crisis in Marxism is not new. as such. The task of radical theory.116 Education Under Siege Gramsci. This suggests creating a new discourse. is to see Marxism not as a doctrine valid for all times under all historical conditions. women.e. Acknowledging the limits of Marxist thought has not only prompted plain. neo-. Marxism remains the basis for a new critical or radical theory. Not only do the fundamental Marxist categories of class.

on the one hand. in Marxist theory cannot be overestimated. As a number of social theorists have pointed out. Another problem has centered on the inability of Marxist theory to free itself from forms of class and historical reductionism. rather than rescue him from his critics and followers. What needs to be stressed here is that any approach to developing a critical theory of emancipation demands that the Marxist theory of class and history be discarded and that the theoretical terrains of culture and ideology be given primary importance as a constitutive force in the shaping of consciousness and historical agency. and culture in both theoretical and practical terms. particularly production relations. that haunts the American left. One consequence has been the devaluing of politics. Second. hence. we first want to examine some of the major categories of classical and critical Marxism and review critically some of the issues that have emerged around their usefulness for radical social theory. At the core of our critique of the Marxist tradition is the claim that Marxism has failed to show how its most fundamental categories remain valid as the basis for a theory of social transformation and emancipation. we want to analyze their strengths and limitations with regard to the way they have influenced the course of radical educational theory. and the primacy of class as the exclusive referent for understanding history and the dynamics of domination and struggle on the other. Such critique demands not only a reformulation of the central categories of critical theory and praxis. class was the fundamental theoretical category . self-emancipation but not limited by its most fundamental categories. It is the legacy of this need to move beyond Marx.Radical Pedagogy 117 informed by the Marxist project of social. Marxism has been held captive by the formulation of theoretical and philosophical presuppositions developed almost entirely within a discourse that stresses the primacy of the economic sphere in shaping society. We conclude by turning to the broader project of providing a theoretical discourse for developing an alternative radical theory of education. In this chapter. it also demands as a starting point some understanding of how the central categories of Marxism have failed both in their orthodox usage and in their most radical formulations in the last seventy or eighty years. For Marx. CLASS AND ECONOMISM IN CLASSICAL AND CRITICAL MARXIST TRADITIONS The significance of the primacy of class and most generally the economic sphere. and the radical educational American left in particular. ideology. and.

His famous formulation that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle” became the theoretical cornerstone for various shades of Marxists in understanding and explaining the underlying logic of capitalist exploitation as it evolved within the sphere of production. In this form of analysis. because of the nature of its misery and oppression as well as centrality to the process of material production. and control its issue. As an a priori subject. one in which the working class was both constituted and shaped by history. it was the working class which. conceived as a homogeneous milieu.”2 Implicit in historical materialism’s views about class and the primacy of the economic are a number of assumptions that have defined the Marxist problematic in its most orthodox and radical strains. the economy “was a level of society. But this was not done under the banner of a dialectical conception of history. the nature of radical agency. production its consequence. was made through the struggle of different classes and social groups. the working class made history without the benefit of being influenced by it. History. became the designated subject of history. it was done under the banner of determinism. against those views of history in which great ideas or great men became the cential explanatory categories. constituted history through its historical mission to liberate humanity through liberating itself and to usher in socialism. We believe that Catharine MacKinnon is correct in her assessment that Marxist theory is wedded to the notion that productive work is the central “activity by which people become what they are. it was defined through its structural location in the economy and its objective revolutionary mission to overthrow capitalist exploitation.3 Furthermore. within the confines of a Marxism informed by a theory of historical necessity. That is. but a level governed by a single logic which started . almost irrespective of the theoretical differences that have arisen about how to define class. the economy was viewed as a homogeneous sphere guided by a single logic and its own laws of development.118 Education Under Siege explaining history and the nature of human struggle. defined primarily through their relations to the means of production. it provided an alternative analysis. there is an underlying belief in the notion that labor is the most important social process creating the material world and the cultural forms that are the expressions of its various social groups. and defined by a homogeneous discourse. In its orthodox versions. Moreover. particularly as supported by the Second International. in this account. On the contrary. Class is its structure. The working class. etc. the working class was constituted as an a priori subject. Moreover. class consciousness. That is. as an objective a priori class. guided by the thesis of the inevitability of socialism. in other words.. characterized by its objective place in the relations of production. capital its congealed form.

in the face of the rise of fascism. but to the ability of a working class to mediate critically and transform the nature of its own existence. especially Adorno. they extended this critique and further argued that the basic categories of Marxism had failed as a sufficient basis for an emancipatory social theory. For instance.Radical Pedagogy 119 from the category of commodity to produce out of itself all the other categories. a form of ideological hegemony. categorized through such allembracing labels as “industrial proletariat” or “proletarian class. believed that the failings in classical Marxism did not signal the need to abandon Marxism as much as the theoretical imperative to revise it. By providing a theory which pointed to the specificity of culture and everyday life in the shaping of consciousness. And yet the theoretical scalpel wielded by the Frankfurt theorists cut deep into the body of Marxist doctrine. working class existence had to be seen as being produced not only in the economic sphere. Lukacs’s major contribution was to revive considerations of ideology and culture within Marxist theory. but also on the terrains of culture and ideology. in this case. even as the ideological and material conditions of capitalism worked against such a development. the whole historical process was considered to be governed by the unique contradiction between forces and relations of production”. by pointing to its location in the relations of production.” In its more radical versions. On the one hand. the degree of working class organization. In the end. rather than simply as a form of economic imposition. 4 Similarly. class consciousness could not be explained as merely a reflection of the logic of capital. the Frankfurt School. But in the end. while at the same time rendering problematic the notion of the working class as a revolutionary subject. On the other hand. the Frankfurt School theorists not only rejected the notion that the . Lukacs claimed that domination had to be seen as a moment of lived experience.5 In other words. the working class itself was seen as a homogeneous cultural formation. In our view. Lukacs argued that the working class could be neither understood. Stalinism and the New Deal in the United States. Marxist theory has modified or rejected those assumptions about class and the primacy of the economic at the core of the orthodox Marxian tradition. nor its political behavior predicted. they rejected the notion that the working class was fated to become the revolutionary negation of capitalism. Instead.6 Underlying the claim that the fundamental categories of Marxism had failed. Political struggle. Horkheimer and Marcuse. Like Lukacs. was not subordinated to the laws of historical necessity. Lukacs failed because of his belief in the classical Marxian view that the capitalist class. and socialist leadership were sufficient to produce revolutionary praxis.

not the relations of production. The state was not merely the instrument of the ruling class. Horkheimer and Marcuse did not devalue the importance of developing a theory of ideology. the Frankfurt School differed with Lukacs’s formulation that the introduction of a theory of mediation and ideology was all that was necessary to help workers develop a self-conscious awareness of their oppression and the political strategy needed to overcome it. Adorno believed that only through a revival of theory which promoted human emancipation could the preconditions for oppositional practice be established. For the Frankfurt School. classical Marxism’s view of both history and its doctrine of historical inevitability were rendered inoperative as a result of the rise of the capitalist state. common to both positions is a search for . In short. as the Frankfurt School analyzed it. they believed that the forces of domination have rendered problematic the very possibility for critical thinking. Adorno laid bare the links between capitalist rationality and Marxism by exposing how both ideologies shared the basic notions of identity theory. they also redefined the notion of domination and laid the theoretical groundwork for linking Marxism to the dominating logic of capitalist rationality. and the end of the free-market economy. Underlying this view was the Weberian notion that technocratic rationality. not merely as part of a critique of capitalist production relations. his rejection of Marxist identity theory. as the ideology of domination.120 Education Under Siege working class occupied a privileged position as an a priori historical agent. technocratic rationality had to be analyzed as part of the totality of societal relations and not viewed exclusively within the realm of economic relations. represented the primary source of domination. and his stress on the notion of difference as a condition of arriving at truth and negativity as the condition of freedom. it had become a new source of administrative domination arising out of the twentieth-century conjuncture between capital and technocratic rationality. Regarding the working class. with its uncritical acceptance of science and its repressive view of nature as an object of domination. That is. While Marcuse and Horkheimer either searched for a revolutionary subject (students) in order to spark the working class or argued that worker self-management rather than the Marxist or capitalist infatuation with “progress” was the real path to socialist democracy. the politicization of science. Domination had to be understood as part of a theory of administration. Domination. While Adorno. Moreover.7 The importance of Adorno’s position centers around his insistence on the centrality of theory as a separate but fundamental dimension of emancipatory practice. was equated with a notion of total administration that extended into the far reaches of the individual psyche as well as into all corner of everyday life and lived experience.

is rejected. Like Marxism. measurable features. the management of things and persons becomes homologous. and both humans and nature become revered as objects without qualities. consumption. Marxism negates the importance of difference and contradiction by arguing that if classes in the Marxist sense of the term disappear. cultural phenomena cannot be accorded the status of merely a “reflex” of the relations of production. In other words for Adorno. on the whole. cultural. to maintain the social cohesion of the existing order. Needless to say. and the refusal to accept negativity as the driving force of critical thought and human agency.8 In our view. within a complex totality. the Frankfurt School also dealt a serious blow to classical Marxism’s view of economism. ideas. in which production is not only accorded primacy with respect to historical development of the human species. as a result of their efforts to develop a theory of culture. Adorno’s critique of identity theory is also a critique of positivist science. under the twin imperatives of the logic of progress and control. our psychic structure are concrete material objects that can neither be reduced to their quantitative aspects for the purposes of control nor exploited instrumentally without dire consequences for the human race. Similarly. and public life are subordinated to the logic of administrative and specialization. Similarly. politics. objects to be worked on rather than to be understood in terms of their distinctiveness and place within an emancipatory view of life. Under this theoretical rubric. At certain historical periods. That is. for the Frankfurt Marxists. our external environment. so the labor process. Put another way. this is developed around the position that Marxism had failed to grasp the materiality and relative autonomy of culture because of its notion that the mode of production was the motive force of society.Radical Pedagogy 121 overcoming the contradictions between classes. the historical basis of contradiction also disintegrates. the refusal to recognize the difference between nature and human society. In effect. but paves the way for the objectification of both humans and nature. despite frequent economic crises and wars that tend to produce the “objective conditions” for revolutionary change. the sharp separation of base and superstructure. and ideological forms of discourse. Instead. particularly in the era of late capitalism. just as nature is reduced to its abstract. contradictions disappear. mores and mass culture become material forces because they have gripped masses of people and serve. positivist science posits the absolute difference between humans and nature. but also the basis for all social. As one of us has noted elsewhere: Here. the Frankfurt School’s theoretical and empirical demonstrations of the role that culture played as part of the dominant society’s attempt at the total administration of both human beings and .

one which is evident in its failure to highlight the contradictions. Furthermore. . a onedimensionality capable of eliminating revolutionary agency. integrating forms of oppositional culture. critical theory contained a highly orthodox strain. there is a failure to examine the oppositional and emancipatory elements that exist in forms of popular culture such as music. The Frankfurt School’s celebration of high culture may have helped to illuminate the oppositional nature of art sometimes present in its form and content. Underlying its notion of domination and its deep-rooted political pessimism there existed a flawed view of working class agency and an unwarranted retreat from the terrain of critical praxis. though flawed. Finally. Consequently. the working class was unfairly viewed as the reified object of history. In the second instance. On the negative side. or simple determinism. occupied by the utility of ideas within the prevailing order rather than their transcendent qualities. complex mediating factors—social. and ideological—were treated in a reductionist fashion. especially in the later work of Adorno. Marcuse and Horkheimer. the Frankfurt theorists argued that the political grammar of cultural production was to be found not only in the artistic sphere. while simultaneously supporting the orthodox notion that what history offered the future was either a crisis in capitalism and the victory of the working class. art. On the positive side.9 In this formulation. and literature. it was often assumed by the Frankfurt School theorists that the relationship between the dominating ideologies of the culture industry and the actual consciousness of the masses was one of cause and effect. or increasing forms of domination.122 Education Under Siege things represents one of its most important. which shaped personal and political relationships according to the dictates of instrumental thought. forms of resistance and struggle that are part of oppositional cultures. and its logic was played out in the culture industry. modern culture was permeated with the imperatives of technocratic rationality. In the first instance. there is no space for conscious praxis. a deep pessimism emerges from this perspective.10 This represents a position based upon a view of theory that lacks any viable conception of social contestation. and ultimately containing any possibilities for social change. caught between the forces of an allembracing mode of domination and its own unwillingness to actively resist it. in the end it remained wedded to the original theory. but this is done at the theoretical expense of removing the possibilities for locating similar oppositional elements in the spheres of popular and mass culture. For Adorno. but throughout the realm of everyday life. insights. As important as the Frankfurt School was in reconstituting the fundamental categories of Marxism. all thought was reduced to the demands of the existing society. psychological. Despite its many revisions of Marxism.

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Faced with the dilemma of appropriating the most important insights provided by a critical Marxist tradition while simultaneously reaching beyond its discourse, a number of radical theorists have attempted to provide the theoretical foundation for rejecting the Marxian notion of class and class formation and the primacy of the economic in shaping society. At the core of their argument is the attempt to place the debate about class and economism in the wider context of radical theory and practice. That is, they boldly attempt to evaluate these issues not only as problems of theory and discourse but also as problems regarding the issues of power and strategy. This is an important theoretical task for radical social theory in general since such a project not only proposes to refute the central Marxian notions of class and history, it also attempts to generate a discourse or counter-logic that points to new possibilities for social struggle and transformation. According to Laclau and Mouffe, for example, Marxism in its various forms has failed to escape from the economistic logic that is its driving force.11 They develop this position around the view that the grammar of economism can be seen in the classical Marxist reading of those institutions that occupy the terrains of culture and everyday life, that is, institutions or “superstructures” involved in the production of ideologies, social values, and social practices. In addition, the logic of economism can also be seen in the reductionist belief that the history, subjectivity, and consciousness of a group is determined by the nature of its class location. Finally, Marxist economism reveals itself in its view of history and the scientism that underlies it. Classical Marxism has never taken seriously the categories of culture, ideology, and the lived experiences of everyday life. Trapped within the belief that the mode of production is the structuring force of human societies, classical Marxism has relied on a notion of power that sees domination as an outgrowth of capitalist economies governed by the dynamics of commodity production and history as a process primarily informed by contradictions rooted in the forces and relations of production. Conversely, contestation and struggle have been associated with the exercise of working class power within the sphere of production. Production relations, in the classical Marxian view, have defined the nature and limits of both domination and contestation. This position fails for a number of reasons. The economic sphere is not governed by a single logic. Rather than being a homogeneous sphere, the economic realm is characterized by a number of discourses, which are ideological, political and cultural in nature. Instead of existing prior to and independent of ideological and


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political conditions, the economic sphere is a site marked by various political and ideological determinations which point to an “hegemonic articulation of a complex of social relations.”12 As Noble,13 Braverman,14 and others15 have shown, the labor process itself is a locus of domination and struggle. Rather than existing separately and being determined by the economic sphere, the political realm is a constituting aspect of the labor process existing both within and outside of the production sphere. In this case, the discursive practices that characterize the institutions of everyday life become both a constituted and constituting aspect of social reality. In other words, to understand how subjectivities get established, ideologies formed, struggles defeated and how individual and collective histories unfold, it is necessary to view classes and the cultural formations of which they are a part as not being uniquely located and determined in the relations of production. Put another way, human beings are formed out of complex interactions, a multiplicity of determinations, which may be specified in advance in their structural limits but not their temporal course. The theoretical implications of this position are far reaching with respect to a number of issues. Class formation is now viewed as an effect of various relations, which are economic, ideological and political in nature. Workers occupy a position in the labor process, but are not formed exclusively within its context. Instead, class formation is linked to the larger social totality with its many faceted relations and practices. That is, social agents are formed through their activities in neighborhoods, religious institutions, various political organizations and other cultural associations. Not only are we arguing a specific relation to the means of production is not an adequate condition for class formation, we are also pointing out that the relationship between class and ideology is highly problematic. That is, since human agents are created within political and ideological spheres that cannot be viewed as a mere reflection of the economic sphere, social consciousness cannot be reduced to a particular class interest or ideology.16 Our refusal to limit the meaning of culture and ideology to the primacy of class boundaries provides a theoretical basis for rejecting the logic of the two-class model of capitalist society that has been the hallmark of both classical and revisionist Marxist theory. Underlying our rejection of this model is a more dialectical notion of ideology, contestation and historical change. On one level, we claim that there is no universal class interest that defines the substance and nature of class struggle. Since workers are formed as a result of many different ideological and social interactions, there is no privileged economic interest that either shapes their consciousness or mediates their political activity. This becomes more clear when it is understood that class position represents only one terrain where contradictions are rooted and struggles emerge.

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Contradictions and forms of oppression are also rooted in sexual, ethnic, and racial social practices and hierarchies, which cause antagonisms within the working class itself and make problematic the Marxist notion of historical inevitability. That is, Marxism’s obsession with the two-class model of capitalist society has been falsely predicated on the notions that class formation and political struggle can be reduced to the ineluctable laws and structure of history. Far from being the outcome of contradictions produced exclusively or primarily in the labor process, the march of history represents the intervention of political subjects formed in many different sites who engage in struggles around which there may be many different outcomes. This is not to deny the importance of immediate producers as a possible source of struggle, as much as it is to point to the way in which culture and ideology become primary determinants in the shaping of human behavior. Moreover, it suggests that radical theory needs a new view of both hegemony and social time. A principle assumption underlying our argument is that the notion of hegemony is a much broader category than class as a unit of analysis suggests. Neither the exercise of power in the interest of domination, nor the attempt of a social group to attain political ascendency can be defined solely through the category of class rule and formation. For instance, the rise of new social movements around issues such as race, ecology, feminism, and sexual freedom refer to forms of hegemony and struggle that cannot be subsumed within the logic of class struggle. Such movements generally circumvent traditional Marxist analysis by posing questions about both domination and liberation that not only exist outside of most Marxist discourse, they also are often at odds with basic Marxist assumptions regarding how human subjects get constituted through their relations with nature and each other. This is evident regarding the traditional Marxian notion of social time. By combining somewhat unevenly the theoretical insights of Bloch, Benjamin, Foucault, and others we can gain insight into how the Marxian notion of social time is flawed in a double sense.17 First, its notion of historical necessity has given rise to an approach that underplays the radical discontinuities that exist in history. Underlying the Marxist theory of history is the assumption that an internal evolutionary logic characterizes the development of the forces of production along with class relations and class struggles.18 We are arguing that it is in the internal tensions, the ruptures and the margins of history that one “squeezes” out the events, the details, the apparent insignificance or trivial features of institutional life in order to find something that may discover the episteme, a category connoting the way a historical period “sees” social life. Great historical events may conceal more than they reveal. Moreover, as Foucault has demonstrated, the issue of historical


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understanding is predicated on the deconstructing of events, texts and images that make up the past. History has no essence, its meaning is to be found not only in what is included in mainstream explanations but also in what is excluded. What this type of historical explanation suggests is that the present gives rise to the past, a notion derived from a reading of the radical discontinuities of history: for example, discontinuities such as the Nazi-Soviet pact of the 1930s, the integration of the working class as part of capitalist society, and the rise of the welfare state in Western societies. To understand these events is to turn away from the logic of historical necessity as it informs Marxist theory and to focus instead on what Benjamin called the traces and fleeting images of history for clues to how history is constituted and what the future portends.19 Secondly, the notion of social time in Marxist discourse is flawed because of its refusal to acknowledge how the multilayering of the past, present and the future is present in the sedimented histories and discourses that constitute various individuals and social groups. There is no pure notion of uniform time characterizing either the historical subject or material culture. For instance, as Bloch’s notion of the non-synchronous indicates, not all people exist in the same “now.” Moreover, it is further suggested that Marxism reveals its positivist ideology in its willingness to ignore the multilayered and dialectical nature of reality, to ignore all differences and contradictions except those granted to class formation and struggle. This is an important theoretical twist, and it is within a critique of economic and class reductionism that an analysis of how Marxism remains a captive of scientism that the theoretical basis for an alternative radical discourse begins to emerge. It is to these issues that we will now turn.

The status of Marxism as a science as well as its view of science has been an object of intense debate both within and outside of the Marxist tradition.20 But in spite of the problematic nature of Marxism as a science, it is clear that the tradition of “scientific Marxism” has dominated socialist and communist movements in the West as well as most governments that act in the name of some brand of Marxism. Moreover, it is fair to argue that, with few exceptions, the tradition that informs Marxist theory is infatuated with science. Douglas Kellner comments on the nature of this infatuation and some of its theoretical and political implications:
This tradition of Marxism has fetishised science as if it were the sole source of knowledge and guide to action. ‘Scientific Marxism’ has also

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accommodated Marxism to positivist models of knowledge that sharply distinguished between value and fact, or subject and object, so as to portray value judgments from objective facts or laws. This bourgeois model of ‘scientificity’ has informed left models of history which relegate human aspirations and powers to a subsidiary role in the march of History. From the time of the original German Social Democrats and Bolsheviks through the present, left political leaders have appealed for authority to ‘laws of history’ or to ‘historical/ objective necessity.’ This appeal helps legitimate their power by virtue of their scientific knowledge which ensures their own political correctness.21


Thus, the real tension in Marxism historically has centered around its uncritical appropriation of positivist science rather than its attempt to create the theoretical foundation for a science that is both critical and emancipatory. Scientism rather than science has plagued Marxist theory from its inception. This becomes clear in the way Marxists of various persuasions have been strongly influenced by central elements drawn from mainstream scientific and epistemological models. For instance, in orthodox Marxist theories of culture and art, the notions of multiple causality and indeterminacy are replaced by cause and effect models informed by theories of scientific explanation based on the instrumental logic of lawfullness, falsifiability, quantification, and formulaic simplicity.22 The instrumentalism and technical rationality that underlies Marxist theory also finds expression in those theories of the state in which the latter is accorded no relative autonomy and as such is reduced to a purely instrumental role. The problem is no less severe in so-called revisionist Marxist discourse. In much of Althusser’s work, for example, science is separated from ideology and granted some transhistorical objective validity.23 He discards anything that smacks of humanism, moral critique, or Hegelianism as aspects of pre-Marxist ideology. The technological rationality at work in this view of science is particularly evident in Marxist theories of political economy. The general analysis of the relationship between scientism and Marxist political economy theory is captured in the following comment:
Despite concrete differences, the new Marxist political economy shares many of the assumptions of its bourgeois counterparts. Among the most important is the classical conception of scientificity. While Marxists try to preserve the critical edge of political economy by insisting on the primacy of production relations for finding the dynamics of capitalist development, it proceeds, having inserted this sphere into economic theory, to an alternative within the science of economics rather than constituting itself as counterhegemonic to economic science as such. For the hegemony of bourgeois economic paradigms are reproduced not only by their practical orientation to policy, but also by their adherence to

Finally. it would take seriously the claims of more recent social theorists who argue that the domination of humans and nature by capital is a related phenomenon of which Marxism remains captive. like objective knowledge. one of the presuppositions of human emancipation rested on the steady and progressive mastery of nature. Science in this case becomes an extension of the logic of domination. nature is seen as an object to be dominated and worked on in the interest of human mastery. Nature. to the logic of scientific rationality.24 One of the most disturbing aspects of Marxist scientism is revealed in its treatment of nature and the link this has to the subjugation of women and blacks in American society. it would take seriously the claims of a romantic tradition that views nature in noninstrumental terms and celebrates its aesthetic value. is something that exists “for us. Conversely. That is. Nature was seen as a laboratory and tool house to be subsumed under labor and converted into raw material for the production of use values. Thus. not its celebration that links Marxism. four key social movements have emerged in the United States and have provided the theoretical basis for a new critical . including human nature is held to be written in the language of mathematics. a critical science would be based on a rationality that recognizes the limits of nature’s tolerance to scientific and technological manipulation. Among the major premises of this is the requirement that all relations shall be subject to quantification—since the book of nature.” its value mediated through the use of a science and technology that take manipulation and objectification as their defining qualities.25 It is this last point that provides a rationale for both indicting Marxism while simultaneously arguing for a radical discourse that supports the rise of a number of new social movements. the ability to penetrate the nature of the economic process is contingent upon framing questions that may be answered by mathematic calculation. For Marx. it takes the mastery of nature as its central task with little or no understanding that embodied in such a view is a rationale that implies no normative stance against science and technique as forms of reification and domination that constitute specific ideological and political relations. Since the late 1960s. The rationality that informs this view of nature is grounded in a form of self-interest almost incapable of understanding either the limits of its own rationalism or the limits to which nature can be manipulated. In other words. Such a rationality would take seriously the claims of an ecological movement that argues for developing a respect for nature’s boundaries in order to sustain the life-giving support systems that make up the biosphere. The starting point for such an analysis is Marx’s view of the relationship between labor and nature.128 Education Under Siege method as defined by eighteenth century natural science. once again. It is the instrumentalization of nature.

a logic aimed at reducing liberation to the mastery of nature. on the one hand. but they have also begun to articulate how this rationale has led to new forms of social domination. that links women with dark. another consequence has been that Marxism often finds itself pitted agains the demands of feminists and ecology activists. Hispanics. a number of autonomous movements that both demonstrate and argue for principles of self-management in opposition to male supremacy. What is unique about these perspectives is that they not only have challenged the underlying rationale of modern capitalist technology and science. At the core of this rationality is the logic of domination. women and men. All of these movements are addressing an entirely new range of problems and in doing so are challenging cultural models and hierarchical structures that have refused to make the domination of nature problematic. A scientific method which reduces the external world to its merely quantitative dimensions has both influenced and prevented Marxism from developing an adequate critique of everyday life. That is. It does not recognize the need for a new historic bloc that can challenge the political and social basis of domination. The message here is that Marxism lacks a discourse that seems capable of challenging more than the economic hegemony of capitalist relations. That is. It is imperative to take up the challenge of the new social movements and in doing so attempt to demonstrate how the link between the domination of nature and humanity works itself out on the terrain of everyday life.Radical Pedagogy 129 view of the current period of capitalist development. and has refused to alter the parameters of its class-based . For instance. modes of science and technology that perpetuate hierarchies. We believe that Marxism has failed to recognize the real differences that exist between the positions and demands of blacks. In their attempt to develop the elements of a counterhegemonic logic and oppositional culture. Marxism’s view of liberation reduces desire and the obliteration of human suffering to freedom from nature through the development of technique and. and overcoming the realm of necessity on the other. it can be argued that the impulses that lead to sexism and racism are connected to the violence waged against nature. uncontrollable emotional and sexual feelings is deeply rooted in forms of hegemonic instrumental rationality and asceticism which the Marxist tradition shares. racial repression and the domination of nature. For example. in the social realm as the concept of individual right. which emphasizes the logic of expanding production as the measure of human progress. the logic that underlies patriarchal normative structures. that identifies blacks with forbidden sexuality. ecological. and whites. feminist. racial and gay/lesbian movements have raised fundamental criticisms regarding the existing nature of social and political domination and the ways in which it is supported by both liberal and Marxist discourses.

Adorno’s characterization of positivism as “the puritanism of knowledge” holds true for orthodox Marxism. Trapped within its two-class model of domination. goals. for instance. aestheticism. The mental apparatus with permanent-press concepts tames the chaos of desire. Asceticism is the conceptual center of gravity of orthodox Marxism…. The goal is rigorous self-control and self-discipline. as their starting point. in some cases. how these groups might be reconciled around common issues is rather problematic at the present historical juncture. within the field of electoral politics. moreover. structure. almost psychological. Orthodox Marxism confirms what Mary Douglas called the “purity rule”: An increase “to disembody or etherealize the forms of expression” corresponds to a tightening net of social domination. it fails to understand that a new praxis necessitates the emergence of oppositional cultures and spheres organized around the demands of autonomous social movements that take the elimination of all forms of domination. Here the final. as part of a radical attempt to promote forms of collective action against obvious and pressing forms of domination. utopianism—the clean ones are invoked—science. contours of orthodox Marxism come into view. The sexual code is internalized as conceptual commandments: Suggestions of utopia and romanticism are tabooed as too suggestive.”26 One issue that needs to be raised here is that while the autonomous nature and demands of the new social movements represent an expression of democratic pluralism. The asceticism of orthodox Marxism despises unregulated insight as if it were the threat it actually is. subjectivism. and social practices that characterize those social groups organizing around new forms of democratic participation. and not simply class domination. they also reveal orthodox Marxism’s deep-seated antagonism for any movement that challenges the Marxist claim to universal validity on the basis of the categories of class and economics. Underlying such an approach is the need to take seriously the desires. Scientific Marxism dreams not of a life without anxiety but of master plans and interoffice memos…. or. Such movements not only point to new forms of social contestation. orthodox Marxism is infused with the spirit of puritanism. Of course.130 Education Under Siege discourse to make room for these insights. it is important to recognize that such movements need also to organize at various times as part of a broader left movement. Jacoby’s comment on the failure of Marxism in this regard is revealing: Against the dirty words—romanticism. rigor.27 . objectivity. This becomes imperative. Along with Benjamin Franklin. Marxist discourse fails to understand the ways in which the various forms of domination pit different factions of the working class against each other.

it must be viewed as having an important but limited role in the struggle for creating a more just society. Schooling as we use the term takes place within institutions that are directly or indirectly linked to the State through public funding or state certification requirements. Furthermore radical educators have to actively involve themselves with social movements and groups involved in developing oppositional public spheres outside of schools around broader educational issues. hence. it is necessary to articulate a new critical view which recognizes the political and strategic relevance of distinguishing between education and schooling. theoretical work that focuses on social and cultural reproduction has to be developed in conjunction with analyses of social and cultural production. self-formation. radical educators have to reconsider the content and purpose of school reform. Institutions that operate within the sphere of schooling embody the legitimating ideologies of the dominant society. Secondly.Radical Pedagogy 131 TOWARD A RECONSTRUCTED THEORY OF SCHOOLING The work in this chapter points to three major theoretical tasks that have to be addressed in the reconstruction of a radical theory of schooling. First. The dual role for radical pedagogues implicit in this analysis can be clarified by providing a distinction between schooling and education. if radical pedagogy is to become conscious of its own limitations and strengths within the existing society. but also raise new questions about the educative role they may undertake outside of schools. Such institutions generally define their relationship to the dominant society in functional and instrumental terms. particularly in relation to historical studies of oppositionall public spheres and the emergence of critical social movements. though. Thirdly. (But it is important to remember that while such “room” is often provided within varied and . On the one hand. of course. room is also provided for forms of critical pedagogy. This suggests that radical teachers not only reevaluate the material and ideological conditions under which they work. Underlying the call for a new discourse about educational theory and practice is a dual concern. they have to construct organic links with community people around the injustices that work in and through the schools. it is imperative to develop a discourse and set of concepts around which this distinction becomes theoretically operational for developing more viable forms of political pedagogy. there is an urgent need to create a new discourse regarding the debate over the nature of education and what it means as a process of social and. More specifically. On the other hand. At stake here is the need to extend the possibilities for developing educational work by redefining the distinction between radical forms of schooling and radical forms of education. Moreover.

As the embodiment of an ideal. it exists within constraining ideological and material conditions). it means developing a deeper understanding of how knowledge gets produced. education represents a collectively produced set of experiences organized around issues and concerns that allow for a critical understanding of everyday oppression as well as the dynamics involved in constructing alternative political cultures.132 Education Under Siege changing circumstances. political and social interests. and most importantly. and how they can be exposed. how students. it refers to forms of learning and action based on a commitment to the elimination of class. if possible. sustained. critical literacy would function as a theoretical tool to help students and others develop a critical relationship to their own knowledge. it is imperative that strategies be developed that take as their starting point an understanding of how knowledge and patterns of social relations steeped in domination come into being in schools. Thus. while simultaneously presenting a strong defense for schooling as a public service. It would present knowledge as a social construction linked to norms and values. and legitimated. and others relate to them. Moreover. In the most general sense. As a form of critique. critical literacy would raise questions about modes of discourse and organization in schools that reduce learning and social . in some cases. teachers. teachers. Education is much more broadly defined. and to develop a notion of active citizenry based on the self-dedication of a group to forms of education that promote models of learning and social interaction that have a fundamental connection to the idea of human emancipation. In this case. it points to forms of social action and collective struggle. critical literacy would make clear the connection between knowledge and power. modified. We suggest that such a strategy can be organized around a pedagogy that argues for a notion of critical literacy and cultural power.and social empowerment as well as to the processes of democratization. racial and gender oppression. its focus is political in the broadest sense in that it functions to create organic intellectuals. For radical teachers. and overcome. and it would demonstrate modes of critique that illuminate how. how they are maintained. as well as what it is they need to appropriate critically in order to become knowledgeable about the world in which they live. knowledge serves very specific economic. As a mode of intellectual development and growth. In the first instance. and used in this context takes place outside of established institutions and spheres. it would function to help students and others understand what this society has made of them (in a dialectical sense) and what it is they no longer want to be. In a radical sense. critical literacy is linked to notions of self. critical literacy means helping students. and others learn how to read the world and their lives critically and relatedly.

The unit of analysis here is social.Radical Pedagogy 133 practices to narrow technical dimensions. the reduction of thought to its strictly technical dimensions is only one aspect of how schools promote forms of political and conceptual illiteracy. and technicist modes of evaluation and selection (a theme we will develop in chapters seven and eight). Critical literacy responds to the cultural capital of a specific group or class and looks at the way in which it can be confirmed. and whites.” something to be endured and from which to escape. for many students school culture has little to do with either their histories or their interests. Such a critique would analyze the technocratic ideology that dominates teacher education. and community people by disconfirming their histories. It is worth stressing that the concept of critical literacy moves beyond the call for counterhegemonic knowledge and social relations by acknowledging the need for educators to incorporate in their pedagogies the experiences and social practices that give a collective voice to specific individuals and groups. It must be remembered that many students grow up within the boundaries of a class culture. In other words. classroom social relations. and a school culture. But the call to take the cultural capital of oppressed and oppositional groups seriously should not be mistaken for the traditional liberal argument for educational relevance. and the “methodological madness” that generally characterizes curriculum theorizing. It is a place of ideological and cultural struggle favored primarily to benefit the wealthy. it would make problematic the instrumentalization and technicization of American education. and futures are sometimes created and destroyed. males. and. But it is precisely because there is room for struggle and contestation in schools around cultural and ideological issues that pedagogies can be developed in the interest of critical thinking and civic courage. knowledge is legitimated. the empiricist and technical thinking that governs state certification policies. and also at the ways in which the dominant society disconfirms students by either ignoring or denigrating the knowledge and experiences that characterize their everyday lives. in effect their role as historical agents. it becomes the culture of “dead time. schools disempower students. . experiences. school culture is really a battleground around which meanings are defined. parents. Critical literacy interrogates the cultural capital of the oppressed in order to learn from it. At another level. It is on the terrains of class and popular culture that students primarily develop an active voice. popular culture. On the other hand. it functions to confirm rather than disconfirm the presence and voices of the oppressed in institutions that are generally alienating and hostile to them. and the key concern is not with individual interests but with individual and collective empowerment. The latter makes an appeal to a pedagogy responsive to the individual interests of the student in order to motivate him or her. Of course. Of course. instead.

to find the basis upon which to validate their own pleasures as well as their own work. Radical educational reform cannot rely on existing institutions to promote emancipatory change. and. it also means working with adults around those issues directly related to their lives. the disrespect they exhibit for the oppressed. One reason for the development of an oppositional public sphere would be to help people develop what we call a healthy narcissism. provide the possibility for using collective aspirations and criticisms in the development of alternative cultures. and acting as educative citizens struggling to establish a social and economic democracy. neighborhood organizations. this means that radical teachers will have to establish organic connections with those parents and progressive groups who inhabit the neighborhoods. citizens who would be self-governing and actively involved in the shaping of public welfare. it points to the need to develop a real defense of schools as institutions which perform a public service. and parents in order to question and strongly influence school policy. It points to developing and working in oppositional public spheres aimed at achieving forms of collective power. Critical literacy in this case points to forms of knowledge and social practice that take seriously the notion of school democracy. Moreover. towns. on the other hand. equally important. their willingness to take economic and political action against oppositional voices make them unreliable as primary institutions for social change. The concept of radical education suggests some specific roles for radical pedagogues. and cities in which schools are located. Oppositional public spheres. we can debunk the idea that expertise and academic credentials are the distinguishing marks of the intellectual. As radical educators. this means working with community groups to develop pockets of cultural resistance based on new forms of social relations and practices. that is. to provide the conditions through which people who have been excluded from making political decisions are able to recover their self. For radical educators. In effect. democratic and active citizenry—in this case. The power of such institutions to set and limit the agenda for debate.134 Education Under Siege Struggles within the schools have to be understood and linked to alliances and social formations which can affect policy decisions over the control and content of schooling. Such alliances point to the need for radical teachers to join with feminists. such educational work could also promote critical analyses of schooling itself and its relations to other institutions included in the state . we can help to destroy the myth that education and schooling are the same thing. ecology groups. It points to the necessity of struggle in sites other than those influenced and controlled by the State. a service defined by the imperative to create a literate.

Moreover. and act collectively to transform their lives. Under these circumstances. trade unions. and capacities to govern. the culture industry.Radical Pedagogy 135 public sphere. the power of the corporations. These are organized mainly around journals. learn. Furthermore. the concept of intellectual is politicized. clubs. etc. Furthermore. It rejects the current meaning of the term which restricts it to scholars. One of the most important purposes for creating alternative public spheres is to provide the conditions for the development of what we previously referred to as transformative intellectuals. Of course. and learn from historical and contemporary examples in which various social groups have come together to create alternative public spheres. it suggests that oppositional groups have to form their own leadership. etc. That is. writers. and the State all function to keep oppositional groups on the defensive. but generally the left has given little political attention to creating cultural sites where people who share a common language. cultural activities and media productions created at the turn of the century by the nationality federations associated with the socialist party. set of problems and cultural experience can come to argue. and academic publications. the elements of a democratic pedagogy can be exhibited through an examination of historically specific examples of alternative public spheres: the various organizations. and set of goals they share with the people such intellectuals represent. Clearly. The media. discuss. It is worth repeating that this concept is important because it lays the theoretical ground for radical educators to examine their own organic connections to specific groups. at the same time. The obstacles against the development of alternative public spheres are enormous. knowledge. In this definition. a leadership rooted in and committed to the history. radical educators could provide. intellectuals who are part of a specific class and/or movement and who serve to give it an awareness of its own function not only in the economic but also in the social and political fields. its logic argues for democratic organizations in which intellectuals and the masses coalesce around building their ascendency as groups fighting the material and ideological forces of domination. magazines. it points to establishing social relations with social groups in concrete institutional contexts such as neighborhoods. experience. it becomes difficult but absolutely essential to establish . while simultaneously and self-consciously educating every member of the community to develop the general skills. at the present time only shadows of a left public sphere exist in the United States. Some counter-institutions also exist in the form of alternative schools. The notion of transformative intellectual is important for educators because it broadens our understanding of the role of intellectuals by highlighting their social function as mediators between the state and everyday life.

This task has several practical specifications: (1) a major effort to study the formation of intellectuals in the American context.. See A. As one of us has noted elsewhere: [The left’s] independent role is primarily to create a left “public sphere.” that is.: University of California Press. Ca. what we have provided in this chapter is a broad theoretical sweep that draws from the work of a number of critical theorists. Profiles and Critiques in Social Theory (Berkeley. We will continue this theoretical effort in the next chapter by narrowing the focus of our analysis to the radical tradition of curricula criticism and the form of discourse needed to engage in radical forms of curriculum production.Piccone. (2) recognition that mass communications is the mainstream public sphere in which political and social ideas are disseminated and sometimes debated—mostly among the organic intellectuals of capital. both those who were destined to serve the prevailing order and those who attempted to define themselves as the opposition. 1983). 1982). it seems imperative that radical educators recognize the limits of orthodox and neo-Marxian discourses. Of course. NOTES 1. The point has been to make a small contribution to rethinking those ideologies that have traditionally informed radical educational theory and practice and to provide some theoretical contributions for creating the basis for a new and more viable radical educational discourse.136 Education Under Siege new agendas that can examine the preconditions for establishing a left public sphere. (3) investigation into the relations between economic. sex. Ca. The Capitalist State (Oxford. political. E.Lunn. and (4) a concrete and unsentimental analysis of the evolution and devolution of the American working class—particularly its ideological formation and changing composition—and the trade unions.Giddens. but also to find ways of going beyond them. England: Martin Robertson and Co. and ideological spheres in the United States as a specifically “late” capitalist society. to find the basis for enlarging the left political culture in ways that address existing conditions. B. Marxism and Modernity .28 In conclusion. Italian Marxism (Berkeley. and ecological politics in both the discourses of domination and the political culture of the left.Jessop. 1982). P. This is not a call to abandon Marxism as much as it is to critically appropriate what is relevant to the present historical and contemporary juncture and to develop it as part of a new radical social theory which points to existing possibilities and more expanded opportunities for radical educational work.: University of California Press. This would deepen our understanding of the centrality of race.

5. eds. A. Marxism and Deconstruction (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Gebhardt. 11. 15. 16. A.Ryan. J. trans.Bloch.Baudrillard. La Societe Bureaucratique (Paris: Editions 10/18. 1979). M. 1982).MacKinnon. eds. 1982). 1982). See especially. 7. J. R. Ibid. also see D. R. Ca.Held. “Nonsynchronism and Dialectics.Arato and E.Castoriadis. “Femininism. Contested Terrain (New York: Basic Books. 1981).Gouldner. Adorno. 1979). Feminist Theory: A Critique of Ideology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 12.” New Left Review 138 (March–April. An excellent compilation and commentary on the Frankfurt School can be found in A. Eclipse of Reason (New York: Oxford University Press. 1971). pp.Mouffe. p. pp. The Essential Frankfurt School Reader (New York: Urizon Books. 17. The Mirror of Production (St. Marxism. G.Braverman. Louis: Telos Press. One Dimensional Man (Boston: Beacon Press. J. Mass. 1981). “Which Class Wins.Cohen.Laclau and C.” Socialist Review. Marcuse. Class and Civil Society: The Limits of Marxian Critical Theory (Amherst. 1979). 1981).Lukacs. 1977). R. 3.C. 14. 1983). Labor and Monopoly Capital (New York: Basic Books. T.Radical Pedagogy 137 (Berkeley.Horkheimer. op. See also A. p. 8. cit.Aronowitz.Noble. Ca. p. Negative Dialectics (New York: Seabury Press. 1978).Rosaldo. Dialectic of Defeat: Contours of Western Marxism (New York: Cambridge University Press. Laclau and Mouffe. Method. 1973–76. M. H. T. Catharine A. and the State: An Agenda for Theory. Mass.Przeworski.Knopf. 343–401. Manufacturing Consent (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1964). Communication and the Evolution of Society (Boston: Beacon Press. “Proletariat into Class: The Process of Class Formation from Karl Kautsky’s ‘Class Struggle’ to Recent Controversies. Crisis in Historical Materialism (South Hadley. Press. and B. 46–81. pp. 93. History and Class Consciousness.” New German Critique 11 . 10. 1947).Keohane. The Two Marxisms (New York: Seabury Press.Jacoby. 13. S.Livingstone (Cambridge. Vols. America By Design (New York: Alfred A.” Politics and Society (1977). H. 93. 1979). M. op. Dialectic of Enlightenment.: University of Massachusetts..Gorz.Adorno and M. Examples of theorists who have recently engaged in this type of analysis include: J.Gelpi.O. 1980).: University of California Press.Cumming (New York: Seabury Press. 1–4). Farewell to the Working Class (Boston: South End Press. A. 12:6 (1982).” in N.Adorno. D.Therborn.: University of California Press.: MIT Press.Edwards. R. 231. trans.Touraine. 9. 1982). G. 1972) (originally published in 1947). C. 1982). Interview with E. “Recasting Marxism: Hegemony and New Social Movements. 4. cit. 6.: Bergin and Garvey.Z. 1973). 1975). 2. Introduction to Critical Theory (Berkeley.Habermas. E. The Voice and the Eye (New York: Oxford University Press.Buraway. 1980). Mass.Horkheimer. 37–55.

1977). 28.Leiss. 26. 1970). The Limits to Satisfaction (Toronto: University of Toronto Press. See. “Socialism and Beyond. pp. See P. 22–38. E. L. On Literature and Art (Moscow: Progress Publishers 1973). 18. 9–21. Art and Society: Essays in Marxist Aesthetics (New York: Monthly Review Press. 142. trans.Bloch. 24. Illuminations.Wright. Schrag. 13 (1983). S. The Dialectic of Defeat. 22. 25.Althusser and E. “Science and Method in Marx’s Capital.: MIT Press. 1981). Ind. D. p.Gorz.Foucault. 35–44. 1974). Ecology as Politics. W. H. E. 1 (Atlantic Highlands.J.Vasquez. Radical Reflections and the Origin of the Human Sciences (West Lafayette. 1975).: Purdue University Press.” Socialist Review 13:3 (May–June 1983). L. for a classic example of the reduction of art to a class analysis.Levidow and B. S. 1978). Laurence (Cambridge: MIT Press. see A. see A. trans. W.Morawski. M. M. 20. p. pp. Power and Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings. 1981).Kellner. Inquiries into the Fundamentals of Aesthetics (Cambridge. trans.Lunarcharsky. 1981). Patsy Vegderman and Jonathan Cloud (Boston: South End Press.Benjamin. Reading Capital (London: New Left Books. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books. op. Technology and the Labor Process. 1973). 11–35.138 Education Under Siege (Spring 1977). Hannah Arendt. 1977). p. 1980). “Giddens’ Critique of Marxism.Young.Gadamer.S. Jacoby.Heller. ed.O. S. especially chapter 7.” New Left Review 138 (March–April. no.Balibar. C. 1983).O. Reason in the Age of Sciences. Against Method (London: Verso Books.Aronowitz. pp. .: Humanities Press. 23. Illuminations. 21.” Telos 59 (Spring 1984).. F.” Radical Science Journal. For two major discussions on this issue. Science. 16–17. cit. pp. pp. pp. Mass. 27. Benjamin. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Pantheon. eds. 1969). “From Red to Green. Colin Gordon (New York: Pantheon Press. On Karl Marx (New York: Herder and Herder. 252–267. ed.Feyerabend. 39.Foucault.Feher and A. Theoretical support for this position can be found in E. A. vol. 35.Aronowitz. 1980). N. Crisis in Historical Materialism. 19.


Curriculum Theory and the Language of Possibility
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN school culture and power has suffered traditionally from the unwillingness of conservative and critical educators to give serious consideration to how schools as political sites both repress and produce subjectivities. The key term here is “both,” a term that suggests that schools not only constitute subjectivities through language, knowledge, and social practices, but also function in a related fashion to discredit, disorganize and dismantle specific ways of experiencing and making sense of the world. Conservative educators, for example, have focused on the production and maintenance of what is legitimated as a universal set of symbolic values and knowledge forms.1 This defense of, call it high culture, classical culture or simply a common culture has also found support among many progressive educators who have criticized schools less for reproducing it in the curriculum than for failing to democratize dominant school culture to make it accessible to all students. On the other hand, the leading tradition within radical educational theory has argued that curricula and school culture share a particular relationship with ruling class forms of social life and function to primarily repress those active forms of cultural capital that express and affirm the histories, languages and social practices of subordinate groups. In this view, culture becomes a political category linked to the power of a ruling class to define its own values and practices as universal and beyond reproach.2 We hold that both of these pedagogical positions share a view of power and curriculum theory that disables rather than enables critical learning and social transformation. Power is something that either works through the curriculum in a way that goes unquestioned, specifically as it defines what counts as legitimate forms of school knowledge, or is seen as a negative instance of social control that represses the possibilities for struggle and resistance. In either case, power loses its dialectical quality as a positive and negative force that works both on and through people. 139


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Consequently, the notion of historical agency in both positions (and their many variants) either disappears under the rubric of producing a universal culture or collapses under the logic of capital and its necessity to reproduce the dominant culture. Furthermore, radical discourses about curriculum theory and schooling generally do not see oppositional cultures as a form of production around which different levels of contestation are organized over contrasting orders of representation, lived experiences and values. Similarly orthodox radical critics limit the notion of cultural practices to specific cultural forms as they work in the schools, in the popular media, or in the family. They make but little effort to extend the dynamics of the cultural field (with its emphasis on the production, organization, and control of signifying practices) to other spheres such as the workplace and a number of other social spheres where human beings produce meanings within relations of exchange and power. Our brief critical commentary on conservative and radical views of curriculum and culture points to the need to rethink the very nature of curriculum theory and its fundamental relationship to emancipatory practice. We will suggest a radically different set of categories and discourses upon which to develop a model of curriculum theory and practice. But before examining the language of critique as it has developed in various radical theories of schooling, we want to provide some theoretical categories that might help rethink curriculum discourse and practice as it is currently constituted. These categories are both defined and organized around the following theoretical concerns: (1) an expanded notion of the political, (2) an attempt to link the languages of critique and possibility, (3) a discourse which views teachers as intellectuals, (4) and a reformulation of the relationship between theory and practice. As major organizing principles that will inform our view of curriculum theory and study, we want to articulate a general definition of each of these categories and then develop their implications in the final sections of this chapter. First, we want to rescue the notion of the political from its conservative and liberal advocates by arguing that its meaning should include the entire way we organize social life along with the power relations that inform its underlying social practices. In this case, curriculum theory becomes both a form of representation and a set of social practices that are inextricably related to specific cultural and social forms as well as particular ideologies. As a starting point for assessing any discourse labelled as curriculum theory, the deeper political grammar that structures its view of power, sexuality and history, human nature and the future would be openly engaged and subject to critical analysis as a form of political discourse. In short, schooling is a matter of social practice and is both permeated with normative considerations and

The Language of Possibility


relations of power. In essence, it is a political process that simply cannot be seen as either neutral or objective. Second, we believe that any notion of curriculum theory has to be organized and developed around what we have in previous chapters called the languages of possibility and critique. With respect to the discourse of possibility, we are proposing that the study of curriculum be informed by a language that acknowledges curriculum as the introduction, preparation and legitimation for particular forms of social life. Underlying such a political project would be a fundamental commitment to the notions of hope and emancipation. Curriculum theory as a form of cultural politics would be linked to the goals of selfand social empowerment. Moreover, as an expression of specific forms of knowledge, values and skills, it would take as its object the task of educating students to become active and critical citizens, capable of intellectual skills and willing to exercise the forms of civic courage needed to struggle for a self-determined, thoughtful, and meaningful life. Informed by the language of possibility and hope, curriculum theory must acknowledge the partisan nature of human learning and provide a theoretical foundation for linking knowledge to power and commitment to the development of forms of community life that take seriously the principles of fraternity, liberty, and equality. Thus, curriculum theory would be steeped in the ethical and political imperative of educating students to provide the moral and intellectual leadership necessary to struggle for a qualitatively better life for all. It is worth pointing out that curriculum discourse would relate knowledge and power in a threefold sense. First, it would interrogate all knowledge claims for the interests that structure both the questions they raise as well as the questions they exclude. Second, knowledge claims about all aspects of schooling and society would be analyzed as part of wider cultural processes intimately connected with the production and legitimation of class, racial and gender social formations as they are reproduced within asymmetrical relations of power. Third, knowledge would be viewed as part of a collective learning process intimately connected to the dynamics of struggle and contestation both within and outside of schools. Far from being treated as “objective” and as something simply to be mastered, knowledge claims that emerge within the curriculum would be analyzed as part of a wider struggle over different orders of representation, conflicting forms of cultural experience, and diverse visions of the future. Underlying this view of curriculum theory lies the important task of helping students rethink both the democratic possibilities within schools and the wider society of which they are a part. It is at this nexus between school reform and societal reconstruction that the languages of critique and possibility both meet and inform each other.


Education Under Siege

Similarly, it is within this theoretical perspective that curriculum theory can both demonstrate and engage the problem that Raymond Williams has called “making hope practical and despair unconvincing.” Third, if the theoretical significance of the languages of critique and possibility is not to be reduced to empty abstraction, we must point to another fundamental category for rethinking the meaning of curriculum theory. Simply put, curriculum theory must define the role of teachereducators as intellectuals engaged in various forms of political struggle. The importance of this category has to be judged, in part, against the assumption that curriculum theory and the programs in which it is produced in many universities not only have been stripped of a democratic vision, they have also correspondingly functioned to educate students less as intellectuals and reflective practitioners than as obedient civil servants and skillful technicians. Viewing teachers as intellectuals provides the opportunity to counter this process and to link emancipatory possibilities to critical forms of leadership by rethinking and restructuring the role of curriculum workers. But it is important to reemphasize the argument we made in chapter two that the concept of ‘intellectual’ does more than suggest the political processes that structure the ideological and material conditions that make up what is known as curriculum work, specifically, and schooling in the more general sense. It also provides a starting point for educators to examine their own histories, that is, their connections to the past and to particular social formations, cultures and sedimented experiences, that, in part, define who they are and how they assimilate everyday experience. Furthermore, viewing teachers as intellectuals highlights for students the importance for them to examine the dialectical character of power as both an ideological and material force. In other words, students need to understand how power works dialectically as a positive and negative process within the many contradictions that make up school life. More specifically, this suggests the need for a mode of curriculum theorizing that makes concrete studies around how power functions to structure language, how it is used as a force to administer and shape the politics of the body,* and how it is implicated in the organization of time and space. Underlying these concerns is the need to understand the conscious and tacit role that curriculum workers as intellectuals play in mediating such processes. We will return to this issue later in this essay. Fourth, if curriculum theory is to be linked to what we call a cultural politics, it will be necessary to redefine the relationship between theory and practice as it has unfolded traditionally within the curriculum field itself.3
* We mean to suggest that the body is not merely a vehicle through which “mind” or “consciousness” functions, but a field of contestation and a site by which subjectivity is constructed socially and politically.

The Language of Possibility


In order to develop methods of inquiry that overcome rather than reinforce the division of labor between theory and practice, particularly as it defines the university-public school relationship, curriculum research will have to become more closely tied to active forms of community life. This suggests that theory be understood as the production of forms of discourse that arise from specific social sites and that each context involves a particular locus of practice intimately related to a specific discourse. Thus, while university people theorize out of one particular site, public school teachers and administrators theorize from a different but equally important context. The point is that we recognize that these sites give rise to various forms of theoretical production, and cannot be seen as, respectively, representative for the development of theory, on the one hand, and the implementation of practice on the other. Each of these different institutional spheres provides diverse and critical insights into the problems of curriculum production and schooling. And it is around common projects developed primarily in the public schools and other public spheres that research programs should be organized in cooperation with university people, neighborhood groups, oppositional social movements, labor unions and others. It is at this point that we want to shift the theoretical terrain from a general discussion of what the discourse of a critical theory of curriculum and cultural politics might look like to a more specific analysis of how the language of critique has emerged within the last decade or so around a radical educational discourse. It is to this issue that we will now turn.

Within the last fifteen years, a number of alternative pedagogical traditions have attempted to take as a fundamental beginning in their analysis of schools the relationship between knowledge and power. Underlying all of these approaches has been the concerted effort to link schooling with the notions of domination and liberation. As we detailed in chapters five and six, schools were seen as having a one-sided relationship with the social dynamics of power. In some cases, schools were viewed as being neither allencompassing footholds of domination, nor untainted repositories of freedom. But more often than not, schools were viewed as having a particular relationship with the existing society, one in which they generally served to reproduce dominant interests and values. In effect, schools were seen as agencies of social and cultural reproduction, exercising power through the underlying interests embodied in the overt and hidden curricula, while at the same time offering limited possibilities for critical teaching and student empowerment.

We want to comment on some of the major contributions each of these various alternative positions have made to understand how power. culture. In the most general sense. as merely something to transmit to . on the one hand. culture. in addition.4 It criticized. More specifically. the importance of which we mentioned earlier. We also want to argue that these approaches to schooling ultimately fall short in providing the theoretical elements necessary for a comprehensive and critical theory of curriculum and cultural politics. the alternative perspectives that emerged out of this tradition played a significant role in undermining mainstream assumptions about the political and social neutrality of the school curriculum. these positions have not been successful enough in moving from a language of critique to a language of possibility and transformation. have provided an important theoretical foundation for grappling with the fundamental questions of what schools actually do as political and cultural spheres and how they might be used in the quest for human freedom and dignity. We will begin by summarizing some of the arguments we presented in chapters five and six. Furthermore. whether they be the excluded majorities of women. traditional theory’s claim that school knowledge and culture were relatively objective. and it launched a sophisticated critique of mainstream theory’s use of an epistemology that largely reduced pedagogy to the celebration of methodological refinement rather than critical thought. for example. they made clear that all knowledge claims are forms of intelligibility rooted in specific normative and political interests. sometimes labelled as the “new” sociology of education. in failing to delineate a dialectical notion of power. ethnics. and schooling and the issue of social control on the other. the “new” sociology of education provided a discourse for reexamining the relationship among knowledge. Rather than viewing knowledge as objective. In the early 1970s Michael Young and his associates launched a major critique of traditional educational theory and practice by arguing that it offered no real basis for understanding the relationship between knowledge and power. it decried mainstream educational theory’s silence about how schools might be influenced by interest groups that reproduced and benefited from deep-rooted ideological and structural inequalities in the dominant society. they made a strong case for the significance of honoring forms of life and language that characterized the cultures of subordinated groups. and an adequate answer to the question of what counts as really useful knowledge. and power. culture and knowledge function as part of the fabric of school life and curricula discourse. or members of the working classes.144 Education Under Siege We want to argue that the various perspectives that developed within and out of these alternative views of education. That is.

the failure to . yet often tacit. organization. At the same time. This problematic can be characterized by a series of questions that became the basis for a new model for educational theory and research. in this case.6 The problems that emerged from this position centered around a number of issues that were taken up by later supporters of the “new” sociology of education. the relationship between power and repression was reduced to the connection between knowledge as a form of cultural production and its uncritical implementation by teachers. proponents of the new sociology of education argued that the school curriculum represented an ordering of school knowledge. it made school knowledge problematic and thereby gave us a measure against which to analyze many of the common sense assumptions and meanings that underscored oppressive. Knowledge. the pedagogical strategy for change that emerged from this position centered around demystifying the common sense and taken-for-granted assumptions that structured teacher practice and school organization. stratification.The Language of Possibility 145 students. These included: What counts as school knowledge? How is school knowledge organized? What are the underlying codes that structure such knowledge? How is what counts as school knowledge transmitted? How is access to such knowledge determined? What kind of cultural system does school knowledge legitimate? Whose interests are served by the production and legitimation of school knowledge?5 As important as the early approaches of the “new” sociology of education were in analyzing the relationship between knowledge and control. allocating and evaluation of knowledge within schools. like the culture it legitimated was deeply implicated in specific power relations. Furthermore. These included: an uncritical emphasis on the social construction of school culture and knowledge forms. And in doing so. one which eventually developed into a relativist posture suggesting that all forms of knowledge were equally valid. schooling and power. one that was constructed through a selection process of emphasis and exclusion. transmission. The call for a critical sociology of education was important because it called into question the production. forms of classroom control. the naive assumption that social change was synonymous with a change in individual consciousness. they ultimately fell short of developing an adequate theory of culture. social control in this view was linked to power relations defined primarily through the various ways in which teachers and other educators defined and legitimated school knowledge. In effect.

the reproductive approach took the form of a structuralist analysis. and how to adjust to the alienating demands of unskilled and degrading work. finally. Power in this instance was connected to what we have previously called the reproductive thesis of schooling. Early versions of the “new” sociology of education related power and control to the social construction of school knowledge and culture. and modes of style that produced and sustained dominant cultures and their underlying economic and political interests. and. think creatively. the refusal to acknowledge the material and ideological constraints that operated in schools so as to make the realization of a critical view of the future exceedingly difficult. and dispositions they will need to occupy highly stratified and class. Later versions focused primarily on the ways in which various school practices reproduced the logic of the workplace and dominant cultural capital within the capitalist order. language. work with a high degree of autonomy.146 Education Under Siege acknowledge linkages between the dominant school ideologies and knowledge forms that constituted the dominant culture in the wider society. the focus of research and analysis became the issue of how power relations outside of the schools penetrated and shaped the organization of knowledge and social practices within them.7 Schools were analyzed as sites that reproduce through the hidden curriculum social relations that corresponded to the relations of dominance and subordination in the workplace. and internalize the individualist-consumer ethos that is the ideological bedrock of capitalist rationality. skills. By pointing to the structured silences that permeate much of the classroom pedagogy. schools were also seen as reproductive in a cultural sense. functioning in part to distribute and legitimate forms of knowledge.8 This approach is valuable because it makes evident how class and power bear down on classroom social relations. For theorists such as Bowles and Gintis. whereas upper middle and ruling class students learn how to exercise leadership functions. how to follow the rules. it helps to deconstruct the ways in which dominant ideologies are embedded in the often ignored relations that make up the texture of . schools were portrayed as places that prepare students from different socio-economic classes for the diverse qualities. Schools were now portrayed and connected to ideological and material forms of power in the dominant society and were viewed as reproductive in a dual sense.and gender-specific positions in the labor force. values. Within this framework. race and gender. The crucial insight here is that working class students and minorities learn how to be punctual. Secondly. schools provided different classes and social groups with the knowledge and skills they needed to occupy their respective places in a labor force stratified by class. First. Simply put.

It points. to the political use of tracking. for instance. for that matter. and values represent “honored” forms of cultural capital. it can be argued that in North American and Australian schools white middle class linguistic forms. this position views schools as sites in which contradictory cultures and social relations are subordinated to the political imperatives of a dominant culture. In these analyses. acting. and success at odds with their own cultural experiences and norms. working class or oppositional modes of dress (long hair. outlandish clothing).The Language of Possibility 147 everyday life in schools. earrings.10 The relationships between power and culture have been explored in the various ways in which different forms of linguistic and cultural competencies. This can be seen in the way in which . Bourdieu and Passeron. how they mediate school life through the histories. dressing. one that functions as the mediating link between dominant class interests and everyday life.9 But this perspective has serious problems. who downplay the ethos of individualism. the issue of power and control in education are analyzed through the linkages among culture. who espouse a form of solidarity. Another variation of the “new” sociology of education attempted to come to grips with the exclusive relation between culture and power. whether they be specific ways of talking. to the ideologies that structure the form and content of teacher talk. thinking or presenting oneself. As has been noted in chapter five. or who reject those forms of academic knowledge that embody particular versions of history. to the way specific ideologies are represented in the arrangement of class space and seating arrangements. are accorded a certain privileged value and status in schools. Rather than holding schools as the neutral arbiter of a common culture and language. this position generally ignores the question of how students and teachers produce forms of resistance or. for example. and to the underlying ideological codes at work in the selection and presentation of classroom instructional material. Those students who represent cultural forms that might rely on “restricted” linguistic codes. often find themselves excluded from the reward system of schools as well as the larger society. What is important to remember here is that the dominant school culture functions not only to legitimate the interests and values of dominant groups. it also functions to marginalize and disconfirm knowledge forms and experiences that are extremely important to subordinate and oppressed groups. class and domination. argue that the culture transmitted by the school is related to the various cultures that make up the wider society in that it confirms the culture of the dominant groups while disconfirming the cultures of subordinate groups. social science.11 For example. languages and experiences that constitute their various cultural backgrounds and histories. modes of style.

And yet. and the working classes. Of course.148 Education Under Siege school curricula often ignores the histories of women. or even as a form of affirmation for those groups engaged in defining the world and human experiences in terms that move outside of dominant discourses (see chapters five and six). as significant as this research agenda appears when compared to what has been on the historical burner. There is no sense here of how power works in the positive sense as a form of opposition. it also suffers from some serious theoretical flaws. and how knowledge and school culture are implicated in the domination of the mind and the body. how teachers and students come to understand their own school experiences. historical. It is also important to point out that reproductive accounts have provided a new research agenda by raising traditionally ignored questions about how meaning gets sustained in schools. racial minorities. The important message is that the underlying codes that inform the various types of signification that constitute the lived reality of schooling have to be interrogated rather than merely transmitted and passively suffered. As important as this position is on the relationship among power. This perspective contains a powerful challenge to the traditional emphasis on the management of school knowledge and the equally ideological view that organization of school life is merely a question of administration. Similar to other reproductive theories. and political interests. At the heart of this theoretical posture is the refusal to focus on how oppositional culture gets produced rather than merely reproduced. what this position illustrates is the way in which schools legitimate dominant forms of culture through the hierarchically arranged bodies of knowledge that make up the curriculum as well as the way in which certain forms of linguistic capital and the individual (rather than the collective) appropriation of knowledge is rewarded in schools. it must be stressed that the “new” sociology of education and the various reproductive models we have discussed in general terms provide us a view of school knowledge. power is linked to forms of control that become synonymous with the logic of domination. culture and schooling. underlying this onesided treatment of culture is the false notion that students are merely passive in the face of oppressive school practices. Moreover. the most important of which is its failure to address how oppositional forms of culture get created and sustained in schools. various aspects of school experience are portrayed as social constructions that embody ethical. classroom relations. and school culture which are treated as being both problematic and normative. That is. Thus. the question still remains as to whether the possibilities exist for teachers to . It can also be seen in the way in which school curricula reproduces the division between mental and manual labor by celebrating “academic or theoretical” forms of knowledge over practical subjects.

These are. Apple is worth quoting on this issue: . THEORIES OF KNOWLEDGE FORMS At the core of this critique is the notion that in recent years new kinds of curriculum packaging have been developed that represent a new form of social control. theories of knowledge content. they constitute a starting point for recognizing the theoretical limitations that underlie this form of criticism and the need to move beyond it in the quest for a more comprehensive critical theory of pedagogy. These models of critique are important in a twofold sense. ideal-typical categories derived for the sake of clarity and analysis. We want to demonstrate at this point that one of the more important contributions provided by reproductive accounts of schooling is a theory and language of critique that has been translated into a number of practical applications. design. This is clear in Michael Apple’s study of a series of curricula packages designed for teaching science in elementary schools in the United States. These include: theories of knowledge forms.The Language of Possibility 149 understand and apply such an agenda to their own daily classroom experiences.14 That is. We have distinguished three basic approaches that predominate among modes of critique associated with reproductive models of schooling. Carol Buswell among others has argued that the ideology embedded in much of the prepackaged curricula materials now being sold to schools represents a direct assault on the traditional role of the teacher as an intellectual whose function is to conceptualize. of course. First. it has been argued that they contain a form of rationality that separates conception from execution and thereby reduce teachers to simply carrying out predetermined content and instructional procedures.13 Apple argues that the science curricula he examined embodied forms of technical control that in effect actually promoted a type of deskilling among teachers. by dictating every aspect of the teaching process these curriculum packages reproduce standardization and control that reduces the teacher to the status of a mere technician implementing ideologies and interests constructed by people external to the actual experiences of his or her classroom and student interests. Secondly. and theories of classroom social relations and knowledge appropriation. 12 By examining the structuring principles that constitute these curricula approaches. and implement learning experiences suited to the specificity and needs of a particular classroom experience. they illustrate critical approaches to unraveling the relationship between schools and social control.

these packages coincide with the increasing tendency of colleges and universities to employ adjunct instructors and teaching assistants to teach the introductory courses. and in doing so provides teachers with some insight into how the cultural forms that find their way into schools are influenced and shaped by interests in the larger society.150 Education Under Siege Skills that teachers used to need. designing teacher and curricular strategies for specific groups and individuals based on intimate knowledge of these people—are no longer necessary. Its tone is “objective” just as its style is authoritative. while sections of about fifty students are taught by graduate student assistants. In most cases. colleges and universities are employing these prepackaged materials rather than using monographs. textbooks are accompanied by lesson plans. leaving the tenure track faculty to offer more advanced courses. the garden variety textbook provides little. concerning different positions on a particular object of knowledge. it links these interests to issues of social control and domination. In the process. The seamlessness of the narrative betrays a definite point of view and ideological content. if any debate. a regular faculty member may lecture once or twice a week to as many as 500 students. The most dramatic and the most representative instance of the separation of curriculum design and execution is. for example. the ordinary textbook. In sociology. The execution is carried out by the teacher. that were deemed essential to the craft of working with children—such as curriculum deliberation and planning. of course. The planning is done at the level of the production of both the rules for use of the material and the material itself.15 The most important aspect of this critique is that it alerts teachers to the interests that underlie the form of curricula materials. In other cases. Jean Anyon among others has performed valuable research on the ideological slant of secondary school history texts and Jean Brenkman has shown the degree of business intervention in what is taught in public schools. “work” books and other materials designed to relieve the teacher of all but the most minimal participation in curriculum formation. critical essays or traditional studies in the humanities and social sciences. Moreover. the past two decades’ surplus of academic labor in comparison to employment opportunities and . as with other social sciences. planning is separated from execution. these important studies do not exhaust the connection between textbooks and the degradation of teacher work. Increasingly. That is. With the large scale influx of prepackaged material. what were previously considered valuable skills slowly atrophy because they are less often required. However. The textbook purports to be a distillation of the accumulated knowledge of the discipline. In the major universities.

not only on the content of what counts as knowledge. furthermore. THEORIES OF KNOWLEDGE CONTENT Theories of knowledge content represent one of the most traditional forms of critique used by reproductive theorists.’s.16 Attempting to provide models of critique that reveal the concealed interests in these materials. photo/ sketches. films. The questions themselves reveal the nature of the model of analyses used: Who are the authors’ sponsors? What are their interests in the issue? Find phrases. ageism)? What alternative viewpoints or arguments exist that are not mentioned or acknowledged? What meaning is produced by the interaction of the formal. An exemplary form of this type of criticism has been developed by Jean Lind-Brenkman in her study of school textbooks produced by many of America’s leading industries. Not only does this form of . has encouraged administrators to hire adjuncts. many of whom already possess Ph. it demonstrates how such a model can be applied to concrete curricula materials. the prepackaged textbook is a control device. ageism)? What content does the author-sponsor focus on? What is omitted? Are biases or prejudices apparent (such as racism. but also on the teachers themselves who lose their autonomy because they are required to use these standardized materials. sentences. In this type of analysis.D.The Language of Possibility 151 budget cuts. curriculum materials such as school texts. This takes the form of a series of questions applied to the material under study. Brenkman links formal analysis of the material with a sustained interrogation of its content. What images of themselves do they wish to present? Who is the intended audience? What are their interests in the issue? Of what does the author-sponsor wish to persuade them? What content does the author-sponsor focus on? What is omitted? Are biases or prejudices apparent (such as racism. Presumably. and written content?17 The importance of Brenkman’s model of critique is that it lays out specific sets of questions that can be used to examine the form and content of the materials under study. sexism. sexism. and other forms of representation are examined for the ideologies that underlie specific knowledge claims.

THEORIES OF CLASSROOM SOCIAL RELATIONS The model of critique exhibited in theories of classroom social relations begins from the assumption that the ideologies and practices that structure all aspects of classroom experiences must be analyzed within a sociopolitical context. Jean Anyon in her study of five east coast elementary schools located in differing social class communities found that students from contrasting social classes were being exposed to different forms of teaching.18 And. For instance. as for instance in the case where: there was a series of assignments in which each child had to be a ‘student teacher. These students are exposed to a notion of school work that involves developing their analytical prowess.152 Education Under Siege analysis alert teachers to the role of industry in promoting dominant class interests (and other interests as well). Through an analysis of the actions. she documents how students from these various social classes were being exposed to social relations and ideologies that fostered particular relationships to the world of work and capitalist rationality in general.”19 For students in the middle class school. At the core of this approach is the notion that a hidden curriculum of meaning functions through classroom social relations to legitimize the position and privileges of specific groups of students. Anyon records how students in the working class schools were primarily taught in their math and social studies classes how to follow the rules. Social studies and math lessons are designed to promote critical reasoning and challenging intellectual postures regarding the knowledge under examination as well as the answers developed in class. with the questions raised by teachers in these schools almost always were designed to simply check on the correctness of the answer rather than to promote any critical understanding of either the questions asked or the answers called for. and teacher expectations displayed in these classrooms. it also makes a strong case for teachers to raise questions about how the content of curriculum material might be related to a specific sociopolitical context. in fact. but according to whether the children followed the right steps. Language arts work focused on developing leadership and management skills in students.” the nature of the pedagogy used changes drastically. “Work is often evaluated not according to whether it is right or wrong.’ The child has to plan a lesson in grammar. Language arts was reduced to mastering the simple grammar needed to function in everyday life. work was getting the right answer. language. As Anyon points out. In what Anyon calls the “Executive Elite Schools. . outlining.

In the contribution to the reproduction of unequal social relations lies a theoretical meaning and social consequence of classroom practice. in the…schools discussed here. the teacher and the other children gave a critical appraisal of the ‘student teacher’s’ performance. In each of the classrooms studied by Anyon students are learning class-specific behavior for both understanding and for adapting to the world of work and other aspects of the larger society. Dennis Carlson has illustrated how an industrial model of the individual is embodied in the systems logic ideology in the Individualized Instructional Planning curricula currently being adopted by many elementary schools throughout the United States. In this case. and to the process of work. For example. alienating classroom tasks were supplemented with affectionate prompting of students. to authority. Rather than responding to student needs in a meaningful and critical fashion. differed qualitatively by social class. These differences may not only contribute to the development in the children in each social class of certain types of economically significant relationships and not others. and in doing so they are acquiring a specific form of symbolic capital. including domestic labor.22 In his analysis Carlson ably demonstrates how individualized classroom instruction was combined with certain human relations applications to make the routinized and standardized aspects of classroom work more palatable to students.The Language of Possibility punctuation. but would thereby help to reproduce this system of relations in society. classroom teachers were taught to recognize and confirm student emotions so as to be able to . pedagogical.21 A number of other illuminating studies of this sort have shed further theoretical light on how the hidden curriculum functions in schools. and pupil evaluation practices emphasize different cognitive and behavioral skills for each social setting and thus contribute to the development in the children of certain potential relationships to physical and symbolic capital. What is unique about this form of critique is that it develops categories of analysis that highlight how common sense pedagogical categories often function to both define and reinforce forms of class stratification. or other language arts topics and explain the concept to the class. Each child was to prepare a worksheet assignment as well. Students appear to be developing a potential relationship to different forms of work. School experience.20 153 The importance of this study is that it alerts teachers to the deeper significance of the underlying codes that structure the various forms of social control that characterize these various school settings. After each presentation. The research agenda this suggests for teachers who want to take the notion of the hidden curriculum seriously is pointed to in Anyon’s concluding remarks: Differing curricular.

while school knowledge and culture are reduced to serving the interests of privileged groups. As forms of critique. Some of these we elaborated on in the beginning of this chapter. it is crucial to point out what is missing from these accounts. DEVELOPING A LANGUAGE OF POSSIBILITY FOR CURRICULUM THEORY In our view. is defined primarily as a negative force that works in the interests of domination. Power as it is generally dealt with in radical analyses of schooling. We believe that the basis for such a project would have to be developed around a radically different conception of fundamental categories such as social control. knowledge. At the same time.154 Education Under Siege manipulate them more effectively. power becomes a contaminating force that leaves the imprint of domination or powerlessness on whatever it touches. the affective dimensions of a student-centered pedagogy degenerated into a form of social control that promoted a kind of “happy idiocy. power. most exciting critical accounts of schooling fail to provide forms of analyses that move beyond theories of critique to the more difficult task of laying the theoretical basis for transformative modes of curriculum theory and practice. In this instance. It is at this point that we will take up the issue of developing a language of possibility for curriculum theory and practice.” The modes of analysis that have developed in the various forms of radical pedagogy under analysis have been critically important in challenging conservative and liberal accounts of schooling. The question of how power works in schools is almost by intellectual default limited to recording how it reproduces relations of domination and subordinacy through various school practices. Thus. now we want to be more specific about how these categories might provide the basis for a language of possibilities in curriculum theory and practice. and the role of teachers as intellectuals. as we have previously mentioned. If schools are to be seen as active sites of intervention and struggle in which the possibilities exist for teachers and students to redefine the . they have provided educators with modes of analysis that are essential to unraveling the ideological interests that structure existing notions of educational theory and practice. especially if the issue of developing a language of possibility and a transformative pedagogy is going to be taken seriously. social control becomes synonymous with the exercise of domination in schools. Treated as an instance of negation. This is an important aspect of this literature and cannot be overemphasized.

but that it traverses and produces things. power is at the root of all forms of behavior in which people say no. much more than as a negative instance whose function is repression. do you really think one would be brought to obey it? What makes power hold good. if it is to serve the interests of freedom. it induces pleasure. a positive notion of social control establishes the theoretical basis upon which to develop the conditions for critical learning and practice. use oppositional modes of discourse. The notion of power that underscores this positive view of social control takes as its starting point the empowerment of teachers and students and the confirmation of their histories and possibilities. Doug White sums this up when he argues that one major task of critical educators is to rethink the relationship between the curricula and forms of social life that point to a more desirable future for all people. is simply the fact that it doesn’t only weigh on us as a force that says no. and fight for a different vision of the future. He writes: the curriculum ought to be one which lays the basis for increasing the ability of as many students as possible to become active. We believe that power is both a negative and positive force. produces discourse. That is. and its mode of operation is always more than simply repressive. Its character is dialectical. As used here. social control has to be seen as not just an instance of domination but also as a form of emancipatory practice. struggle. if it never did anything but to say no. resist. what makes it accepted. In actuality. are only one site where this should take place). participating adults. that give them the skills which are basic for analysis and leadership in the modern world. which suggests that schools should be regarded as sites around which a struggle should be waged in the name of developing a qualitatively better life for all (schools. At work here is the view that social control. In our view.23 When viewed dialectically the concept of power is both a positive and negative force and provides the basis for redefining the nature of social control and its relationship to schooling. forms of knowledge. social control speaks to forms of practice necessary for the demanding task of designing curricula that give students an active and critical voice. then the notion of power will have to be rescued from its current usage among radical educators. must be seen as a form of cultural politics.The Language of Possibility 155 nature of critical learning and practice. By active participation I mean that students learn some real skills and knowledge which allow them to take part in adding to the general . Michel Foucault’s analyses of power and how it works provides the basis for this perspective and is worth quoting at length: If power were never anything but repressive. It needs to be considered as a productive network which runs through the whole social body. of course.

What is at stake here is that a critical notion of social control cannot elude the tough issue of responsibility. regardless of the disciplines or subject areas being discussed. Underlying the notion of social control serving emancipatory interests is the important question of how teachers and others can work so as to produce curricula around forms of culture and school knowledge that empower students who traditionally have been excluded from the benefits of a “critical” education. To start. the cultural capital of students from subordinate social categories must be related to the curricula teachers develop or mediate. In other words. a critical pedagogy has to take seriously the notion of cultural politics. as well as the social practices through which it is appropriated. In this case. the . and it can do this by both legitimating and challenging the cultural experiences that make up the historical and social particulars that constitute the cultural forms and boundaries that give meaning to the lives of students and other learners. to the questions raised in classes and to the problems that are posed in such settings.24 The idea of social control that is implied in White’s comment is illuminating in that it links the notion of freedom to specific forms of structure and discipline. This demands acknowledging the language forms. cultural politics when defined as a pedagogical category refers to the need to critically engage the experiences that students bring to the school. Secondly. dispositions.25 In this case. style of presentation.156 Education Under Siege social good—both materially and spiritually—and also gain the basis for making judgments about undesirable social directions. This means confirming such experiences so as to give students an active voice in institutional settings that traditionally attempt to silence them by ignoring their cultural capital. teachers would have to develop forms of knowledge and classroom social practices that validate the experiences that students bring to schools. and in doing so inveighs against those elements of pedagogical tradition that argue for a view of freedom that embraces an unbridled notion of student experience. A critical interrogation of the cultural forms which give students an active voice becomes the referent for understanding what students need to learn outside of their experiences. This means that such experiences in their varied cultural forms have to be interrogated critically so as to recover their strengths and weaknesses. of providing the context and conditions for the development of emancipatory forms of curricula. forms of reasoning and cultural forms that give meaning to student experiences. The starting point for such a position would have to begin with Paulo Freire’s notion that the form and content of knowledge. have to be seen as part of an ongoing struggle over what counts as legitimate culture and forms of empowerment.

It included practical skills. This invokes the central question of how the pedagogical principle of cultural politics might invoke some directions in deciding what might be critically useful knowledge. Really useful knowledge was also a means to overcoming difficulties in the long term and more comprehensively. Thirdly. The concept of really useful knowledge as it developed in nineteenth century England among radical working class educational associations has been the subject of a number of historical studies. competitive and uncooperative ways. it strongly valued the development of curricula and pedagogies that begin with the problems and needs of those groups that such education was designed to serve. One aim of a cultural politics then is to provide students with the skills and courage they will need in order to transform the world according to their own vision. students will have to learn how not to be imprisoned by the worst dimensions of their sedimented histories and experiences.The Language of Possibility 157 pedagogical moment translates into a political process that helps students to begin the process of breaking the chains of domination and subordination as expressed not only in the objective forces that bear down on them daily. Really useful knowledge involved…a range of resources for overcoming daily difficulties. Secondly. And any attempt to redefine the concept for existing curriculum theory and practice would do well to begin with some of the important analyses radical educators developed historically. but not just those wanted by employers…. Richard Johnson has captured the specificity of this kind of knowledge in the following comments. between education and work…. It taught people what social changes were necessary for real social ameliorations to occur. For radical educators this means taking academic and other forms of knowledge and subjecting them to the test of how they might become useful in the interest of self. It also created solidarities and raised levels of literacy and general understanding within the movements. Really useful knowledge started out from everyday concerns. It consisted of theories and explanations of why most people were poor (in the midst of plenty). but also as they are manifested in the very structure of personalities and needs.27 . and why contemporary society shaped character in the way it did—in aggressive. One major precondition for such an aim is that students will have to learn how to critically appropriate the codes and vocabularies of different experiences. Three main analyses are relevant for our purposes. Radicals sought to break down the distinctions between learning and life. First. really useful knowledge provided the basis for a critique of dominant forms of knowledge. It involved self-respect… which came from seeing that your oppressions were systematic and were shared. it strongly argued for knowledge that contributed to strategies for changing all forms of domination while simultaneously pointing to more democratic forms of active community.and social determination.26 In effect.

a hermeneutic of Plato’s Symposium could enrich our understanding of love just as his Republic might illuminate our views of politics and human nature. historical and philosophical works in the school curriculum. A new regimen of teacher “training” would have to be instituted to replace the “methods” taught in many teachers colleges. and knowledge that points to more human and democratic social relations and cultural forms. We wish to associate ourselves with that impulse but be disassociated from the results. Many schools. the best method for working through these knowledges is that of ‘close’ reading. attain a degree of mastery over the legacy of high culture as well as assimilate and validate the elements of students’ experience. eliminated language requirements from the high schools and severely restricted social science programs to American history and civics. which is intimately bound with popular culture. sexuality and the moral foundations of the social order. When presented in the context of these objectives. One of the most difficult issues for a new critical theory and practice of school knowledge is the question about the liberal arts. Teachers would be required to themselves become intellectuals in the technical sense. Similarly. the interrogation of texts from the perspective of finding the interests. knowledge that challenges and critically appropriates dominant ideologies.158 Education Under Siege The central message to be derived from this analysis is that at the core of what counts as really useful knowledge is knowledge that draws from popular education. The novels of George Eliot. particularly the fate of the canon of literary. Dickens and Thackerey which had been taught in the old curriculum were either removed by student and activist pressure or relegated to a minor place in the pantheon of school knowledge. the canons of the liberal arts provide one basis for that mastery. responding to the new progressivism as well as financial pressure. If students are to be empowered by school experiences. the dialogic method of knowledge acquisition contravenes the pervasive tendency to disempower students and teachers through textbooks and other prepackaged materials. in the name of relevance and the demand for useful knowledge. To be sure. Teachers would ask students to connect their understanding of Silas Marner. Of course. the historical conditions and the tacit assumptions that underly them as well as the considerable pleasure to be derived from the reading itself. radicals mounted a massive assault on this canon. There was much to commend the student revolt against the boring and uncritical appropriation of the liberal arts by school officials and the ritualistic ways they were taught. that is. Middlemarch and other novels with contemporary issues such as feminism. For us it is not a question of “bringing back” the same old crap in the name of . one of the key elements of their education must be that they acquire mastery of language as well as the capacity to think conceptually and critically. During the 1960s.

and the growing business-school partnerships being promoted by neo-conservative ideologues. put another way. The pedagogical question that emerges from this type of analysis is what accounts for the elements of repression and forgetting at the core of the dynamic of ignorance. eliminate their canonical status entirely. the most obvious ways being through school attendance laws. in a sense. or. A third aspect of cultural politics we wish to emphasize is the need for radical educators to analyze state and nonstate agencies as important sites involved in the production of dominant culture and ideologies. Ignorance. in other words. we are referring to forms of knowledge that people refuse to address. She argues that: Ignorance is no longer simply opposed to knowledge. it is imperative to understand how corporate influences bear down on the shaping of school policy and curricula development. on the basis of selection. is not a passive state of absence—a simple lack of information. refuse to even consider.The Language of Possibility 159 culture. the take over of publishing houses by such interests. the enforcement of state certification requirements. given the threat such knowledge may pose to their view of the world. the point is to make these works a part of our popular culture an eventually. This would necessitate understanding and working through counterhegemonic actions to transform the various ways in which the state directly intervenes in developing and implementing educational policy. Ignorance is. it is an active dynamic of negation. history and philosophy by kids from subordinate groups and classes is a linchpin for overcoming the hierarchies of school knowledge inscribed in the curriculum. Such influences can be seen in the promotion of texts and school supplies by corporations. an active refusal of information.29 . We would also like to add a fourth category that focuses on knowledge as a force that blocks the development of certain subjectivities and ways of critically experiencing the world. it is itself a radical condition. Rather. the implementation of school legislation. Shoshana Felman in her discussion of Jacques Lacan’s notion of the unconscious refers to this form of knowledge as a way of thinking about ignorance. On another level. Specifically. an integral part of the very structure of knowledge…. for that matter. The point is not to reproduce high culture.28 This is an important point because it teaches us that ignorance is a form of knowing that resists certain forms of knowledge. particularly in the United States. what accounts for the conditions that posit for individuals or social groups a refusal to know or to learn. our intention is to suggest that a critical appropriation of the literature. and the distribution of educational research funds through various government agencies. a form of knowledge defined by the way it actively resists certain knowledge.

group. and the latter working within oppositional public spheres so as to make the political more pedagogical and to further promote the goals of a critical socialist democracy. More specifically. and which reproduces and consigns various forms of labor and cultural life to modes of drudgery and alienation. we are arguing that conditions must be developed in and out of public education to foster the development of transformative intellectuals—that is. and political fields. we are referring to teachers who are both scholars and activists. or movement and who serve to give it coherence and an awareness of its own function in the economic. that teachers must be seen as intellectuals. In this perspective. Needless to say. the concept of transformative intellectual does more than suggest the political function in which educators engage. and who take as a starting point for their work the political injunction of working collectively with others to create a more decent and humane world. with the former working in schools. They must also be aware that their role is decidedly political since they cannot escape from the often contradictory function of either legitimating or resisting dominant forms of ideology and culture (not to mention either accommodating or producing such forms). At most. Yet. radical teachers should embrace both of these roles since they extend their own political work while simultaneously providing the basis for new alliances and collective struggle. not only in their own work but also in the society at large. In this case. For underlying this logic is a division that separates conception from execution. that is. It also lays the theoretical ground for them to examine their own histories. intellectuals who are part of a specific class. those connections to the past which in part define who they are and how they mediate and function in the world. and over the struggle as to what counts as acceptable knowledge and social practice. . whose sphere of intervention is not just the school but the community at large. as critical theorists who provide the moral and intellectual leadership necessary for developing active forms of community life engaged in the struggle for equality and democracy. We describe teachers as being transformative intellectuals in the sense that they recognize the struggle in which they are involved over what constitutes the distinction between normality and deviance. the concept of the transformative intellectual becomes a political referent for educators to take seriously the struggle to eliminate the division between intellectual and manual labor. this means that a distinction must be made between radical teachers and educators. We want to return at this point to the argument we presented in chapter two. intellectuals must be fully aware of their active role in mediating between the dominant culture and everyday life. social. a cultural politics must include as one of its basic theoretical elements the need to rethink the nature and role of being a teacher. Equally important.160 Education Under Siege Finally.

A. “Curriculum Study and Cultural Politics. 211–236.Jefferson. We would like to shift our theoretical focus at this point and turn to another side of the crisis in public education. Ltd. Society and Culture (Beverly Hills. but that they also be prepared to struggle and to take risks in fighting against injustices however deeply ingrained that may be in the schools and other social spheres. The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Proposal (New York: Macmillan Co. 1984.Passeron. Ltd. Industrialism. 3. 1968). ed. Education and Power (Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul. As difficult as this task may appear. pp. 1982). they will have to be developed within a language of possibility that can raise real hopes. Reproduction in Education. H. This means redefining the notion of power.” Journal of Education 166:2. For if radical educators are going to take seriously the need to develop workable alternatives to the current forms of schooling.The Language of Possibility 161 The concept of the transformative intellectual is fundamentally important to viewing curriculum theory as a mode of cultural politics. We want to analyze the crisis posed to public education by emerging neo-conservative and rightwing ideologues. 4. they will have to develop some clarity about what kind of curriculum is needed to build a critical socialist democracy. cultural politics. and point to new forms of social life that appear realizable. if the notions of social control and cultural production are to be taken seriously. Ca. Knowledge and Control (London: Collier-Macmillan. G. and class-specific practices have become part and parcel of the teaching profession. P. S. forge new alliances. the stakes are too high not to fight for it.Giroux and Roger Simon.Apple.Hall and T. 1982). This suggests that teachers be prepared not only to produce oppositional forms of knowledge and social practice. They will also have to investigate how the teaching field has evolved under conditions where race-. Resistance Through Rituals (London: Hutchinson & Co. and Education (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Bourdieu and J.Young. As radical educators begin thinking about pedagogical strategies for the future. they will have to investigate historically the nature of the teaching field itself. .: Sage Publishers..F.Adler. Culture. Such a task does not mean debunking existing forms of schooling and educational theory. 1977). M. M. 2. NOTES 1. 1976). contesting the terrains on which they develop.D.. it means reworking them.W..H. really useful knowledge and a number of other categories mentioned in this chapter. and appropriating from them whatever radical potentialities they might contain.. At the same time. M. as both a moment in the labor process and as a particular cultural form for learning.Bantock. gender-.

Mickelson. 87.” Yale French Studies 29:2 (1981).. 29–30..Whitty and M. 1980). 239–253. S.Wolpe and J.: Bergin and Garvey. M.” Journal of Education 162:1 (Winter 1980). 67–92. Education: Straitjacket or Opportunity (New York: Transaction Books.A. 1983). C.Gordon (New York: Pantheon. pp.Johson. pp. 293–306. 11. 24... Schooling in Capitalist America (New York: Basic Books.” British Journal of Sociology of Education 1:3 (October 1980). et al.” in A.162 Education Under Siege 1971). “School and Work: Social Constraints on Educational Opportunity.White. eds. “New Developments in the New Sociology of Education. D.Donald. 1970). 1976). 90. State and Schooling (Sussex. 1980). England: Falmer Press. Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Seabury Press. eds. p. H. 18.Wolpe and J. “Seeing Beyond the Interests of Industry: Teaching Critical Thinking. pp. 67–80. “After the Divided curriculum. Is There Anyone Here from Education (London: Pluto Press. R. Ibid.. 26. p. R. G. “Education in Crisis.” in A. Australia: George Allen &Unwin. Ibid. Mass.A.Wilcox.Connell. and H. cit. 83–112. pp. Ibid.Kaplan eds. “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work. P.. Ibid.” British Journal of Sociology of Education 1:1 (March 1981). J.Freire.” Journal of Education 166:3 (Fall 1984). 13. 16. 6–7. pp. 14. 283–294.Brenkman. Bourdieu and Passeron.. “Updating Individualism and the Work Ethic: Corporate Logic in the Classroom.Donald. “The Secondary School’s Role in Social Stratification: A Comparison of Beverly Hills High School and Morningside High School.” Curriculum Inquiry 12:2 (1982). Power and Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings.. 27.Berman.Moriarity.Willis.Foucault. E. 10.” Journal of Education 165:3 (Summer 1983). S.” in J. K. 8. Learning to Labor (New York: Columbia University Press. Apple.Felman. C. Ibid. “Pedagogic Change and Social Change. 25.Gintis. eds. Ibid. cit. 29. 1981).Bowles.” in G. op. 72.” The Victorian Teacher (March 1983).Anyon. p. S. pp. 7. “State Hegemony and the Schooling Process. 9. “Psychoanalysis and education: Teaching Terminable and Interminable.. 23. 6. pp.Bates. Theory and Resistance in Education (South Hadley. 1983). 1977). pp. 28.Hall. ed. Making the Difference (Sydney. 125–160.” Journal of Education 162:4 (Fall 1981). R. 21. 1982).Benet and K. 12. P. D. p. J. 20. 1983) pp. 19. and P.Carlson. Is There Anyone Here from Education (London: Pluto Press. 11–26. 5. pp. op. “Sociology and the Problem of Radical Educational Change: Notes Towards a Reconceptualization of the ‘New’ Sociology of Education. 146.W. 22.L.Giroux. 17. pp. .Young. “Educational Politics: The Old and the New.Whitty. R.Buswell. 15. 293–294. Society.

most knowledge is acquired by performing tasks at the workplace. bankruptcies and mergers and consulted bankers and loan companies on investment decisions. For the vast majority. In the 1920s post-secondary education was reserved for two quite disparate groups: those destined to rule America’s giant corporations or the state and those belonging to all social classes able to climb into the professions. not on criteria derived from the requirements of the work itself. credentials have become a rite of passage. However. Shopkeepers acquired business acumen by imbibing tradition. to handle such issues as tax matters. higher education was just not an option. a prerequisite for civil service exams. completion of a prescribed post-secondary 163 . indeed. a sign that a certain process of formation has taken place. In Pierre Bourdieu’s terms.EIGHT Neo-Conservative Ideology and the Crisis in Higher Education PART ONE THE IRONY OF the current crisis in higher education is that even as successive administrations in the 1970s and 1980s have reduced aid to colleges and universities. even in the professions such as medicine. as Randall Collins has persuasively argued. or in more complex enterprises hired a small coterie of experts. engineering and the law. However. working class and old middle class alike. we have entered a “credentialized society” 1 in the past thirty years. usually in a few weeks or in the skilled trades by a prolonged apprenticeship. Most factory jobs could be learned by on-the-job training. most of which could only be justified on economic or bureaucratic grounds. the importance of these institutions has grown in all spheres of society. The degree or certificate may not train labor better to perform paid work. mostly attorneys and accountants.

These changes have required intellectual as well as manual labor to become increasingly mobile. for example. through “reading” law. social competence of the prospective employee. may not enjoy job security in an economy that is characterized by a period of permanent technological revolution. more important. In both cases. which have become primary recruiting grounds for Broadway and Hollywood. most of which were written by those whose professional formation was. Now the term “self-made” connotes a person’s ability to rise within a fairly well established corporate or bureaucratic hierarchy. it tells the employer that the applicant has endured or at least recognized the rituals of initiation into the historically evolved occupations. By legitimate formation. and football players are almost completely recruited from the college campus).2 The “new” class of professionals and subprofessionals. actors and directors receive more and more training in college departments. The growth of the academic system for credentializing labor corresponds to the rationalization of production and its concomitant bureaucratization. in recent years. (A partial exception to this rule is the entertainment/sports professions in which the academic system plays a smaller role. Since industrial society has obliterated these traditions. It was the “objective” criterion invented to replace the tradition that certified competence on the basis of impersonal evaluation.3 As higher education became cultural capital. Since specific credentials are now overproduced (like most commodities) there is no . most of whom are engaged in some form of wage labor. following the movement of industrial capital. assisting senior physicians or working for a self-employed professional (usually civil) engineer. That is. professionals were not primarily certified until late in the nineteenth century by schools but by other professionals.164 Education Under Siege course signifies cultural capital. Later state certification was added through exams. Recall the journeyman’s card performed this function for the crafts and. However. musicians. The academic system has replaced the old craft and professional traditions that were rooted in local geographic space or occupied a secure place in a status hierarchy. mergers. possessing cultural capital in the form of a credential becomes a code of legitimate formation. the problem became how to determine the suitability of a given worker for the job. a new mechanism had to be found to assure employers of the technical and. we see the passing of the “self-made” person—the autodidact who gained fame and/or riches by entirely individual means. and massive regional and global shifts in capital location. contrary to received wisdom. As labor became mobile. rapid-fire business starts and almost as rapid failures. we mean that the individual has gone through a process of educational socialization which is recognized by employers and by the larger society as constituting adequate preparation for occupational status.

”) Since the content of most work is undergoing constant change. Since credentials are necessary rites of passage to bureaucratic and technical labor. they connote . The two main points of distinction are presumed intelligence and the value placed upon hard work. landing a job becomes a sign of worth and presumed individual initiative. the higher the degree. It merely constitutes a basis upon which leading corporations. For example. proving that no matter what. the grading system and the stress on individual achievement reproduces an ideology in which the student experiences his or her difference from all others. the less specialized it becomes. American schools are not only localized.Neo-Conservative Ideology 165 correlation between the degree and obtaining a particular job. but by that specific trait of American ideology— individualism. the degree. Here we do not mean to suggest that “ideology” is merely false consciousness. Since the corporate mode of industrial organization which dominates all organizations in our society is organized along both bureaucratic and hierarchical lines. the kid managed to get wonderful grades. (The kid was bright but fooled around too much. The academic system performs a second vital function: it reproduces the ideology of opportunity. the more particular technical knowledges are constituted as qualifications since the work performed is likely to be more specialized. or. the major qualification for a prospective employee is his or her generic understanding of the organization rather than specific knowledges. a prerequisite. regardless of the field. not by the facts of the academically linked labor market. It signifies the candidate has forged links with established networks and achieved a grade necessary to obtain the degree. is merely a rite. Further. Since even these prerequisites are no longer sufficient to assure placement. “the cream always rises to the top. possessing a degree from Harvard. the reproduction of the ideology of status is made necessary. individual worth is increasingly measured by the place of one’s school in the academic hierarchy and his or her place within the school. In either case. A Harvard University degree is a social credential and has almost nothing to do with technical qualifications. Therefore. a sign of social and occupational formation. Columbia or Yale law schools signifies nothing about the quality of the training of a particular candidate. Of course. In contrast to many western European countries where students travel through the centralized school system with an exquisite sense of collective fate. students are encouraged to internalize their own responsibility for success or failure. as we have stated. even less the differential acquisition of specific knowledges relating to particular fields of the law. major public agencies and important law firms may recruit cadre. but the distinction between the private and the public is built into the status hierarchy. The lower one descends in the academic hierarchy. despite outrageous school behavior.

Of course. disciplined autodidact.166 Education Under Siege important knowledges for a system in which knowledge is capital. that is. On the other hand. As we mentioned in chapters five and six. to understand the boundaries of rule making and rule breaking. professions associated with computers and other scientifically based technologies. In a society where power and knowledge are ineluctably linked. the less conflict is experienced by the worker. many have entered the academic system in order to qualify for jobs in the communications. It follows that attaining a degree presupposes possession of this cultural capital. Schools are miniature societies more than centers of technical and scientific education. Having arrived on the scene. the foundation eroded and the walls and ceiling were termite ridden. habituation is by no means the necessary condition for successful integration within large organizations. Even those among these groups able to “rise” to semi-skilled jobs in the unionized monopoly sector in the 1940s and 1950s have lost their economic niches in the wake of the partial deindustrialization of intermediate technology industries such as auto. The stress on educational credentials among racial and national minorities and women responds to the labor market. the cellar flooded. Displaced from industrial labor. more than specific technical knowledge (for which the student still requires substantial on-the-job training). achieving a degree replaces the high school diploma because it signifies knowledge of how systems work. Nor can the vocabularies of the social sciences and their logical structures be dispensed with by people wishing to work in economics. the discovery that many universities had lost their groves and ivy to gypsy moths cannot deter the aspiration to postsecondary education. especially. Credentials are the only game in town.4 We do not mean to imply that a basic background in mathematics and physical sciences is not needed for those aspiring to perform technical and scientific work. in circumstances where the workplace is defined in terms of the manipulation of symbols to produce codes and signs rather than things. It is not necessary for students to “internalize” the organization to learn how to function within it. steel and electrical manufacturing. as much as law and medicine were during earlier periods of our history. corporate administration. this is an error common to Marxist and . Of course. In schools students learn how to operate within the historically evolved culture with particular modes of organization at different levels of the occupational and social hierarchies. human services and social research. the more habitual these knowledges are. During the first rain. financial services. We are contending that these knowledges are generally available to the dedicated. they discovered what blacks found when they bought old houses in former Jewish and eastern European neighborhoods.

however rebellious they may “feel. particularly its spurious erotic satisfactions. Social theory in the period between the First World War and the 1960s was obliged to explain the break of advanced capitalist societies with liberal society’s tendency to posit the autonomous individual as the bedrock of social life. Students of modern systems theory recognize him as a major predecessor. Thus. not merely a rule handed down from above to impose a regime of sexual repression. This theory constituted a radical departure from the rationalistic proclivities of contemporary social and political theory. Herbert Marcuse’s notion of technological society requires that its members become “one-dimensional. political and ideological relations in which the transformation of culture was the crucial condition. By arguing the systemic character of power/ authority. that it was a function either of social evolution (Parsons) or the inevitable logic of capitalist accumulation and bureaucratic organization . In the context of liberal and Marxist beliefs that fascism and other forms of totalitarianism were somehow external or conjunctural to the history of capitalism.6 The individual in both theoretical paradigms are presumed social clones.” These modes are reflections of tendencies in social thought that were dominant in the wake of the rise of rightist regimes in the 1930s. the imposition of a compulsory sexual morality was for Wilhelm Reich a characteristic of the mode of social reproduction. Parsons claims the fundamental continuity of society and culture as part of a more general theory of the evolution of living systems and argues that the distinctions between personality systems. cultural systems and behavioral organisms are “merely functional. were implanted in the psychic structures rather than being understood merely as the reward for performing prescribed work. Parsonian theory asserts the symmetrical relationship between authority and individual action.7 The individual was always complicit in his own oppression to the degree that the option of freedom was foreclosed by the repression of psychosexual needs generated from within as well as externally imposed. The Frankfurt School sought to explain social domination as a complex of economic. lose their capacity for critical reflection. Talcott Parsons’ theory of socialization posits the coherent link between individual family and workplace as the necessary condition for functional completeness. the Frankfurt School insisted that the mode of social and sexual organization produced a new person fitted to the new order. Similarly.” that is.Neo-Conservative Ideology 167 “bourgeois” social theorists concerned with processes of social reproduction.” This position suggests that political and economic dimensions of society are the macrosocial side of a total system of which individual behavior is the microsocial aspect. Max Horkheimer and Marcuse argued that the blandishments of consumer society. At one end.5 At the other.

10 Power is imposed by a system of social domination by symbolic means through pedagogical authority. as educational credentials become more central to determining whether an individual may gain access to jobs. The converse is true. the power of the educational system grows in the system of social domination. Pierre Bourdieu has invoked the category of “habitus” to explain the subordination of the worker to managerial authority.9 Like Parsons. More recently. Parsons subsumed the individual under the structural continuity between the individual. goods or economic security. on the one hand. sex. He relied almost exclusively on the historical argument that capitalism distorted the psychosexual structure so that social character became self-repressive and externalized itself as fascism. and family. The Frankfurt School argued from a utopian position that held up the possibility that people could understand each other perfectly. but its effectiveness in transmitting the “cultural arbitrary” is mediated by the strength of oppositional classes and movements.” the students. and. or class. are dominated “free agents” such as those referred to in all social contract theories.8 Reich dispensed with the assumption of putative integrated civilization upon which critique depended. Under current conditions. he does not submit to the view that pedagogic power is imposed by colonizing the unconscious. Later on. there would be no inegalitarian hierarchies of race. by extension. social theory succeeded in abolishing the conception that authoritarianism within liberal society was anomalous.168 Education Under Siege (Marx/Weber).”11 That is. In order for this situation to come about. the student to the school administration. Although Bourdieu remains skeptical that the objects of the “cultural arbitrary. the child to the parents. students accurately perceive school attendance as a means to enter the power system. “The relative strength of the reinforcement given to the balance of powers between the groups or classes by symbolic relations expressing these power relations rises with the strength of various classes and the power of the market to confer higher value on the goods delivered by legitimate school authorities. Jürgen Habermas was to call this “a public sphere” in which an individual in the community possessed communication competence. To the extent that an oppositional group or class culture generate symbolic relations that . he asserts the “specific effect of symbolic relations in the reproduction of power relations. as long as jobs paying relatively well can be procured without credentials as in economies marked by technologies employing workers with little or no skill or professional formation.” Bourdieu speaks of symbolic “violence” as the characteristic relation of pedagogic communication which is charged with the transmission of something he calls the “cultural arbitrary” within a framework of legitimate authority. work relations and the state on the other.

Of course. and political weight of the working class movements—trade unions. or participation in the underground economy which is another labor market. except for the minority prepared to enter at its margins.12 Thus. These losses have specific historic preconditions in the patterns of capital accumulation. in the midlands region traditional working class symbolic relations were able. to exert a powerful influence through producing an alternative cultural system. among young people. those linked to school knowledges. the unintended consequences of refusing certain niches in the market system. students may not always be aware of the specific options they are choosing. that the technologized “arbitrary” is more than the most “logical” option given the international division of labor that has assigned certain functions to the U. In effect.” students may “choose” to oppose the system of school-induced rewards by fighting authority. alternatives to technical/scientific or bureaucratic labor have been similarly narrowed. however. In recent years. This does not imply. social clubs. etc. spaces that often entail “nonlegitimate” economic relations. This lack of understanding of the labor market is particularly acute when job recomposition is underway and new definitions of work and their prerequisites have not yet become “common sense. the political triumphs for the workers’ movement. for example. until the 1960s. including a rationality of market value.S. neighborhoods—will tip the balance of power. since the option of proletarian factory labor is increasingly foreclosed. but there is no superior “rationality” associated with choosing to become a part of the prevailing culture. cannot exempt most of us from participating in the market system as such. we may reasonably conclude that the decline of the economic. social. The boundaries of opposition are framed by the system of wage labor.Neo-Conservative Ideology 169 constitute a counterlogic to the dominant “cultural arbitrary. Paul Willis has shown how students prepared themselves in English comprehensive high schools for factory labor by doing badly in school. Credentials are now recognized as the only possible way to enter the labor market system on favorable terms. hence the concept of “arbitrary” to connote a particular mode of participation. .” Further. but it is the weakening of an alternative cultural system which accounts for the growth of school enrollment among the underlying classes.. but this is not the same as “socialization” or technological or psychosexual domination. they respond to another authority system. in which administration and technical and scientific knowledge play important roles. street life. past struggles for hegemony at the workplace between capital and labor. one that places high social and economic value upon factory labor.

The Kerr Plan provided for a three-tiered system which simultaneously provided for mass postsecondary schooling for those hitherto excluded. were rapidly disappearing as viable working class options. northeastern Ivy League and important regional campuses such as Duke. the private. The four year liberal arts college outside the major . The college was obliged. often without credit. Students were admitted to schools without regard to their high school grades or test scores. the University of California Chancellor Clark Kerr. to students entering with “substandard” reading. Having established college and schooling as a “right.” the hundreds of thousands of minorities and women who streamed into state institutions in the 1970s were soon followed by adults for whom such opportunities had in the past been unthinkable. This rise of school attendance among the adult population that was recruited in the 1960s and the 1970s for public and corporate administrative employment has more than offset. Emery. from the point of view of administration. Chicago. a recognition that America had become a credentialled society and that the alternatives to factory and farm work which implied a different set of norms. by this entitlement. The academic system was forced to accommodate a constituency historically considered beyond the pale of the higher learning.170 Education Under Siege PART TWO Higher education is currently at an impasse. as the new condition of market survival in an increasingly uncertain situation. especially among working adults for whom credentials have been identified. First. To be sure. the Carnegie Foundation and other major educators and institutions recognized the inevitability of this change in the 1950s on the heels of Sputnik-generated demands for an increased massification of higher education. to offer programs. These workers entered school on the heels of a successful struggle spearheaded by black and hispanic students for “open admission” to institutions of higher education. In effect. writing and calculating skills. and Stanford. the decline of the normal college age population. The junior college was transformed from a “finishing school” for young women destined to enter corporate or old ruling class marriages into the “community” college which became the repository of technical training for specialized skills. open admission was. demand for college education has increased in the past two decades. while preserving the elite character of the major state universities. at least in the large cities. Without doubt. among the most important democratic achievements of the black freedom movement and the feminist movement of the 1960s and early 1970s was the hitherto unheard of policy adopted in many states that a college education was an entitlement. correctly.

Administrators and faculty were concerned that not only had even the elite university become enslaved to the labor market but also that the signals students had received were distorted. and concomitant dramatic expansions in technical training at the four year colleges and the community colleges. the conflation of education and training has become the emblem of the new era in higher schooling. No. but also in the contradiction between its traditional mission of providing the cadre for ideology. particularly philosophy. Engineering. The consequences of this situation extend far beyond the individuals involved to the sphere of international economics and are multiplied by the shifting position of the United States in the world order. said the faculty. the 1970s were marked by declining enrollments in nonelite liberal arts programs. It is not a waste of time to ponder Plato’s Republic for Harvard or Columbia students. history and literature. teaching. medical technology. The new conditions of international market competition place the national economy in greater jeopardy than at any time since the turn of the twentieth century. as administrators and students perceived that the liberal arts. The sign that students no longer see reason for choosing courses that acquaint them with the liberal tradition was the recent reimposition of a core liberal arts curriculum at Harvard University. In the process.Neo-Conservative Ideology 171 “multiversities” or the Ivy League remained an anamoly in the new system and seemed to lose its function. with the exception of a tiny group of elite schools. large corporations want educated counselors. Consequently. industrial and service production. the function of the transmission of western culture to society’s political. They have become “breadth” requirements for engineers and business administration majors. one of the schools Kerr envisioned as the true repositories of academic learning. a curriculum traditionally reserved for preprofessionals. had no “use” in an increasingly technology dominated society. Thus. and industrial sciences were increasingly privileged in the “second” tier. the crisis of American higher education consists not only of its budget difficulties that have accompanied the world economic crunch. managers and the intellectual elites. economic and ideological cadre has now been permanently displaced. The market orientation of America’s colleges and universities is the source of the crisis because. and the new demand that it become a multi-layered mass technical training institute. America can no longer rely on its scientific and technological superiority to rule the world or upon the magnitude of its . only for those at Los Angeles State College or Kingsborough Community. not only those trained in the law. have found themselves technicized in the majority of schools. Those fields traditionally associated with the liberal arts. subjects to be tolerated because they are not selected voluntarily.

This is the basis of the conservative . Even though large liberal corporate foundations had encouraged the open admissions movement against educators for whom the “standards” of higher education would be unalterably eroded. Conservative attacks on American higher education are motivated by their horror of the 1960s generation that made colleges the base for political and cultural opposition. On a wider scale. we want to further dispose of some popular left and liberal economic arguments. the returning working adults. These were major sites of the new minority and women students. Lacking the human resources to comprehend the enormity of the changes underway in the new world economic. and became a surplus subsystem within academia. was made in the context of the still powerful antiwar movement as well as the report’s anticipation of the coming economic crisis. as well as by the economic downturn of the following decade. political and social orders. In this connection. Although the extreme technicization of schooling was prompted at least partially by the student revolt of the 1960s. government and corporate policy makers have discovered the importance of a sophisticated and literate labor force for setting the cultural environment for rapid capital accumulation. but the statesupported four-year liberal arts colleges for which there was no function since most of their students were destined neither for the professions nor for management. makes it more likely that policy makers will resort to military options to solve international conflicts. Community and four-year colleges. we are in danger of reverting to the most blatant use of force to solve our problems. the attempt to bypass the need for broad cultural formation reduces the chance that the labor force will regain its productivity. Their only function was to provide a credential. but this was not the ground for the Nixon. The Carnegie report of 1971 which already argued that there had been an “overproduction” of higher education facilities and services.172 Education Under Siege capitol resources. In recent years. The factor of a ballooning military budget should not be dismissed. necessary to qualify labor for bureaucratic jobs. especially those providing no specialized training or subprofessional credentials are under attack in the 1980s both because social sciences and humanities have no specific function in the marketplace for mass technical and bureaucratic labor and because they “represent” the victory of minorities and women to gain access to the credential system. the precipitous decline of cultural formation among cadre. not to mention the general labor force.13 The target was not the community colleges or the major research universities. Ford or Carter cuts. but not for an already “overexpanded” system. by the early 1970s a certain skepticism had crept into organized liberal and conservative intelligence on these questions.

D. medicine. At the same time. it must be admitted that the demand for a new curriculum does not correspond currently to the economic and cultural perceptions of the majority of students. the shrinking of the number of jobs have discouraged blacks and other minorities from choosing these fields. Many among the new academic surplus labor force are women. from a major university. in the wake of the nearly complete transformation of the cultural balance of social power towards the technocratic classes. etc.Neo-Conservative Ideology 173 attack. they are also the condition for acquiring critical thinking in a society where the old labor. especially the Ivy League.14 Saving the nontechnical programs in colleges is a civil liberties struggle. With each passing year. At the outset. For the liberal arts are not only the foundation of the bourgeois claim to be the inheritor of western culture. Only those getting their Ph. We want to argue that an entire generation (measured by ten years) of humanities scholars has already been lost. Further. the absolute number of faculty in these departments is reduced by layoffs. even among tenured faculty. especially the battle for the traditional critical curriculum. history and economics. or almost any academic calling except administration and technical and scientific occupations. racism and antiworking class bias in the university. a new terrain of cultural struggle is within the universities. That is. The partial exceptions. Of course. most egregiously. In some cases. graduate programs in these fields decline because they too are subject to the shrinking market. when a professor retires he takes his job with him to Florida or Palm Springs. and. engineering and practical sciences rather than risk less stable market situations such as the liberal arts professoriate. the concomitant decline of the liberal arts enrollments in most colleges and the transformations of social sciences and humanities departments into service programs. many graduating from these schools can no longer expect to work in their field unless they are willing to take high school jobs (a path fairly well trod in countries like France and Great Britain). with its implications for the struggle against sexism. socialist and radical public institutions that once provided these amenities have all but disappeared. The degree to which their aspirations are dominated by labor market considerations can be measured by the proliferation of technical and business courses in higher education. the veritable wage freezes imposed in many academic institutions. especially minorities and women. Until the early 1980s qualified blacks able to enter elite universities chose law. the frequency of layoffs. may be accounted for by the persistence of the black tradition of cultural reclamation that has been . can hope to find an academic job. the Big Ten and the University of California. the fight to save these institutions is linked to the fight to save the liberal arts. English and history departments suffer deeper budget cuts.

We are now undergoing such a period. these tendencies will accelerate in both the short and intermediate term. We have been less interested in programs of redistribution than those that integrate women and minorities into an expanding market. during periods of economic downturn. Given the economic and ideological outlook of the 1980s. The tenure system that assured a lifetime job for selected teachers has resulted in an aging professoriate. the practices of credentialism. which in America have been fueled by the rise of conservative ideologies that tend to legitimate exclusion using biological or cultural arguments that place responsibility on the victim. students and the media that they have been fired unjustly. overwhelmingly white and male. even the “normal” hiring practices in a shrinking job market will reduce women in teaching positions. the hardest hit have been women for whom humanities and more recently social sciences became an important entry point for professional opportunities during the dramatic expansion of the academic system in the 1960s. To the extent to which the student . Discharged women faculty experience increasing difficulty persuading colleagues.174 Education Under Siege deposited in the history profession and the many jobs available outside the academic system for economists. Since women are subject to sexism that has excluded a fairly high number of them from the ranks of the tenured in recent years. it is highly likely that their proportion to the tenured faculty will diminish. to equate equality with equality of opportunity. However. However. and equally important a massive exodus by students from political and social concerns in the wake of unbearable pressures generated by the economic crisis. The late 1970s marked a new wave of antiradicalism on many campuses. The argument is that only if the system grows can the excluded demand and get access to credential jobs and other cultural capital needed to enter the labor market on a more favorable basis. and the increasing privatization of social life. PART THREE American ideology has always tied the struggle for social justice to economic and institutional expansion. the discourses of exclusion subordinate the discourses of cultural and economic justice. wrongly. Americans have tended. even as the proportion of women students rises at all levels of the academic system. Absent a strong feminist movement that insists on the active implementation of affirmative action programs. radicals find unsympathetic administrations are more willing to overrule favorable departmental tenure decisions.

Even as Marxists and other radicals gained increasingly legitimacy within many fields. These questions bring us flush against the contradictions of the tenure system and the pressures for ideological conformity in the academic system.Neo-Conservative Ideology 175 movement. it was able to impose its will on administrators who nearly everywhere suffered a crisis of confidence. the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in a closely contested election with its competitor. The attack on the liberal arts gained momentum in part because its various fields had become havens for a new radical professoriate. when the line is not “retired” with the professor. In recent years. The new teacher earns less than the retiree.15 Unions have won elections in private universities such as Boston University. or. will hire an untenured. However. they found themselves under severe counterattack from a defensive and embattled senior faculty that experienced its own intellectual bankruptcy while. the . the pool of adjunct and untenured teachers has expanded and the number of tenured faculty reduced. Conservative critics charge that the tens of thousands of dollars entailed in a single tenured academic job violated the pressing need to cut costs in social services. particularly the rise of neo-conservatism which has displaced liberal hegemony among intellectuals. Tenure has been under attack since the early 1970s. the conjuncture of various ideological with economic tendencies helps explain both the cutbacks in the university and the substantial number of politically and sexually motivated firings. have prompted many college faculties to seek and obtain union organization. at the same time. Catholic colleges and at Yeshiva University. chose a collective bargaining agent. and may only occupy the job for one to six years after which they are obliged to look for another “temporary” position. particularly history and sociology. Academic administrators. combined with the dramatic slowing of salary increases. full-time professor. ideological tendencies. under pressure from women and blacks to support affirmative action hiring at a time of job shrinkage. teachers in the largest academic system in the country. the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the AAUP’s ally. were equally powerful in producing a new climate. These conditions. Thus. encouraged by budget cuts have replaced retiring faculty with a series of part-time employees whose combined salary is half that of the deposed senior professor. In 1982. We do not want to argue that the economic crisis was alone responsible for the changing political climate. as well as many workers. the National Education Association (NEA). the California State University. including black and feminist organizations constituted a “countervailing” power base against these tendencies in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

the most notable absence from this record of union advances are the private research universities and the major state research institutions such as the midwest Big Ten members or the University of California.176 Education Under Siege prospects for new victories in this sector were considerably diminished by the Supreme Court decision in the Yeshiva and Boston University cases. and by the increasing centralization of university management would degrade the status of the faculty. clearly identified with the goals and policies of the administration and more broadly. The job scarcity affirms trade union resolve to uphold the system of institutional racism and sexism. been exempt from unionization of their faculties. despite union support for affirmative action programs. have power over the careers of graduate students. These are still good reasons to protect the minority that engages in . particularly the military. Here most faculty consider themselves part of the directorate of the academic system. At the same time. Tenure was instituted to protect free inquiry. other faculty and outside groups from persecuting faculty for their political or intellectual dissent. It was an institution that confined just cause for discharge after a tenure decision to misconduct of a personal nature or gross incompetence that may result in discrimination against students. As a result. But tenure was instituted to prevent state legislatures. The union defends the institution as well because it holds that this is the only genuine way teachers can gain job security. and are the cadre from which administrators are recruited. Yet. the large research universities have. research and views that contradicted conventional wisdom. While in earlier times. faculty determination of tenure was tantamount to appointment. Many faculty members prefer to adhere to the ideology of intellectual autonomy that ignores the fact that research grants and facilities are made available only to those able to obtain grants from government agencies. To acknowledge that its traditional decision-making power has been progressively eroded both by the subordination of research to the various production markets. particularly radical inquiry. the tenure system has effectively excluded the new aspirants for academic positions at a time when jobs are scarce. many of these professors are managers of their own research projects that often employ assistants and graduate students. holding faculty of “mature” private universities to be supervisors because they share in decision making with the institutional administration. the new situation presents departments with a “higher” authority in the persons of deans. the state and corporations. provosts and college presidents who reserve the right to veto or reverse faculty decisions. and foundations. corporations. with almost no major exceptions. faculty unions have fought to maintain tenured positions against constant pressure from above to retire them.17 In the other systems.16 Naturally.

for example. those interested in feminist and black studies have survived to the extent that they conform to the same intellectual norms. economic or political history. That is. Again. the American academy has become visibly less exciting. These objects must be integrated into recognized disciplines such as social. the past decade has witnessed an increasing outpouring of works purporting to demonstrate the commensurability of historical materialism with the canons of analytic thinking. Similarly. But the tenure system has been more often employed as a means to secure conformity among faculty to exclude dissenters. methodologies and its culture in the guise of academic conventions.Neo-Conservative Ideology 177 oppositional inquiry. is tolerated in others to a degree unknown either in the 1950s or in the 1930s. Marxist or “post structuralist” literary critics still have a hard time in most English departments even if they have wide acceptance in the relatively small and marginal comparative literature programs. in mainstream economies and will often try to present his or her position in the codes of the dominant paradigm in order to gain a hearing. Marxism has accommodated to the norms of academic life. On the contrary. not made its own way. but the price Marxism (as only one example of a radical “science”) has been obliged to pay is that it must cloak its discoveries. in philosophy. Similarly. young and new faculty members are encouraged by the market conditions to become more ideologically and intellectually conservative. innovative and important as a center of intellectual life since the late 1960s. as we have already noted. The Marxist economist must be adept. To a large degree. The radical feminist who. Since teaching in universities is a good job. works in the normal traditions of the historical profession has a better chance for tenure than the feminist who tries to develop a new theoretical paradigm of women’s history that entails a critique on either methodological or ideological grounds of conventional narrative history and the absences therein—particularly of women. This does not signify the decline of specific ideological tendencies. Marxism has received a fairly warm reception in some fields. such hegemonic discourses as those of analytic philosophy or the new criticism are obligatory norms for scholarship) argue that “women’s” or “black” history are not proper objects of inquiry with methodologically valid sets of procedures for obtaining knowledge. Analogously. this conformity is imposed on Marxism and other marginal perspectives by the norms of academic respectability. As a result of the pressure to conform. Some intellectual conservatives (that is. . nonanalytic philosophers of the phenomenological. despite recent deterioration of working conditions and salaries. or at least to remain silent about their dissenting views. nevertheless. The arguments become fairly subtle. those for whom the positivist traditions of social science research.

These examples demonstrate the degree to which academic departments refuse pluralist practices even as they oppose radicals on the same ground.” Thus. Among them. ethnicity and intellectual orientation. Even through the 1960s. This is the stuff of which intellectual sterility and political conformity is made. Under these conditions the liberal self-perception of the pluralistic academic system is preserved. It is not that faculty consciously seeks clones in their young and new colleagues. Under these circumstances. Only with the uncontrolled expansion of the academic system did a marginal deviation from the established patterns become possible. When the dissidents succeed.” radical and dissident professoriate. overt political repression becomes unnecessary. college and graduate school. the most egregious is the statement about whether a faculty member is a “congenial” colleague. is completely understandable. Graduation from a particular set of schools. and good at faculty parties. most professors beat a straight line from high school. The concept of “quality” is articulated in terms of a prefigured conception or normal science. but on the quality of the research of the denied faculty member. It is worth noting in this connection that recruitment below the elite schools reproduces the patterns of their more prestigious counterparts. exclusion from tenure is not often announced on overt ideological grounds. quiet and dependable at meetings. In general. the problem is that they rarely tolerate those not engaged in research that conforms to the norms established by the “scientific community. as well as race. but they have formed definitions of competence that are framed by well-trod career paths. a certain trajectory of career development and the same intellectual interests are definite signs of probable congeniality. Networks established in undergraduate and graduate schools become the crucial foundation for recruitment to academic departments and have been only slightly altered by the “affirmative action. Their dedication to normal science. helpful in matters concerning department administration. sex. they are relegated to courses in the “continental” or “history” of philosophy. the biographies of faculty members tended to follow a few patterns. Anyone engaged in theorizing or research who adopts an antipositivist perspective or defines an object of knowledge in terms that vary or oppose conventional definitions may find herself out in the cold. in Kuhnian terms. The cultural conservatism of academics often masks deep ideological and intellectual differences with younger or minority colleagues. Some criteria for tenure are fairly arbitrary. .178 Education Under Siege Marxist or programmatic schools find difficulty gettings jobs in this field which is dominated almost completely by various schools of language philosophy.

for workers. In the absence of an alternative. But what of those who wish to preserve the status quo? Are the current setbacks in the size and variety of higher education opportunities in their interest? In order to answer this question we must recapitulate our argument: 1. women and blacks as well as political dissenters. lower pay and economic insecurity. even as it denies upward mobility to most women and minorities. when one of us lived in San Diego and applied to a local state college. Under present conditions. and those coming from these universities are rarely found in community colleges or state liberal arts schools that recruit faculty in the image of their social function. lacking counterhegemonic social movements. San Francisco or Boston. Getting a degree is no substitute for a critical education which is barely available in most schools and. such as the romance of the factory or the streets that animated prior generations of working class kids for whom college was not only unattainable but also undesirable because it prepared them for becoming part of the system’s apparatus. Thus. those historically excluded from credentials must fight for expansion of as well as space for the critical curriculum. women’s and black freedom movements. The exceptions to this rule only verify this statement since few teachers in the Ivy League are graduates of universities not reputed to be at the cutting edge of research. Similarly. he would feel “uncomfortable” in the surroundings. They argued that since he published more than the typical colleague at the school. at the moment at least. We want to conclude by posing a question raised indirectly in this chapter: from the point of view of the new relations of industrial and postindustrial society.Neo-Conservative Ideology 179 Until the job crunch a Yale graduate was regarded with suspicion if he applied to a community or state college unless the school was located in a desirable metropolitan area such as New York. the “givens” of American ideology point to a negative answer: since American ideology cannot. the critical curriculum cannot achieve hegemony over the technical and technocratic orientation but must content itself with affirming pluralism in intellectual inquiry and hiring against the conformist tendencies that have gained the upper hand in mainstream instruction. is the curtailment of the academic system a rational policy? Obviously. . the application was refused because the committee held it was unlikely he would stay. 2. today’s workers are obliged to get credentials on penalty of dead end jobs. in the nadir of the student. is not likely to remain an option. grant the need for redistributive justice and will only respond to pressures from below under conditions of expansion. a buoyant economy may not permit downward mobility.

Tenure has reduced the innovative possibilities of the universities of this type. still grips the professoriate. the quality of credentialled education is declining. the elite university finds itself in serious trouble. to that extent society itself is deprived of social and cultural knowledge of which power is. it must be overcome within teaching and learning. each of whom has been formed in a radically different cultural and social context. but a bold program of academic renovation analogous to the program that motivated the expansion after 1957. but students learn about authority through being subjected to pedagogic “violence. On the one hand. is becoming greater. cultural and social knowledges is an absolutely essential condition for crisis management. must itself be changed. conspire to produce a degraded educational and intellectual environment. which has become broadly responsible for intellectual renovation. politically and economically directed research in scientific and technological fields and the state are vital not only to maintain the prevailing order. The distance between the new student and the old faculty. radical critics of the academic system that have linked it to the labor market have pinpointed only one side of its current role in society. In other words. If Jürgen Habermas is right that modern societies need not only knowledges for the creation of new productive forces to insure the development but also learning mechanisms to revolutionize their communication competence and to solve new problems that lie outside of economic rationalities. Taken together. the complex of ideas and practices that constitute ideology production.180 Education Under Siege 3. From the point of view of systemic reproduction. Thus. Technocracy as ideology is unable to generate a culture that lives with the ambiguities of the transition already underway because it reduces problems to types of instrumental rationality. Among its other functions. but the most important problem remains the canon of normal science which inhibits a “scientific” revolution able to comprehend the new world economic and cultural order and provide students with adequate preparation for that order.” a knowledge that prepares them for bureaucratic work. then the university. these problems suggest not planned shrinkage. mainly because its own uncritical traditions. Thus. on the other hand. 4. but also to solve pressing systemic problems. its technocratic orientation and the market orientation of students who failed to get the message not to worry. the formation of a critical cadre able to span a wide area of political. the old culture which is not being transmitted to the new generations. this culture must be transmitted. The conservative ideology that . As we have stated throughout this book. in research and in policy formation. in part. constituted. To the extent that the academic system is confined (and confines itself) to producing technical knowledge.

universities have been the main contractor of government sponsored nonmilitary basic research and have been the major losers in the current retrenchment. Of course. A program that fights to expand opportunities for credentials is necessary but not sufficient to defend the interests of those historically excluded.S. and for new curricula that exposes students to the academic system as an object of social and intellectual inquiry. economic power diminishes. Business journals. are not even consonant with its short term interests. This political sophistication was. faculty and facilities to the market system. Just as the Reagan administration and its predecessors unwisely curbed research and development activities that were not linked to the military.S. Needless to say. not only from the third world but from its erstwhile allies in western Europe. We merely wish to remind liberal and radical critics that the fight to expand educational opportunity is not only oppositional. e.g. diverse political systems and different cultures can be educated. combined with the political and class-motivated cutbacks at all levels of the academic system. in world affairs. this chapter is not intended to advise the corporate establishment or the political directorate concerning shortsighted education policies. are clearly opposed to the long term interests of the system. In the new circumstances of the world economic order. it may correspond to the system’s interest and some who occupy the commanding heights of political and economic power may recognize this. economic power outweighed its sad parochialism. Americans need different skills and understandings to deal with an increasingly interdependent world.Neo-Conservative Ideology 181 currently dominates our leading universities. America is losing the capacity to respond to those problems not subject to market solutions. it may be argued. These must be seen in the context of a larger project to deconstruct the . not needed in the postwar era when U. By subjecting university programs.. Equally important is to enrich the composition of the professoriate with those whose dissidence consists in their will to carve pedagogic space for critical education. and. The American academic system is the only place where a new generation of serious scholars about the world economy. so American industries have suffered serious setbacks in advanced technological industries where knowledge production is central. Let us give a single example. to be sure. As U.S. This project entails an ambiguous struggle for the traditional liberal arts in the wake of their marginalization. the growing ideological and political isolation of the U. economists and the daily press have agreed that among our most pressing economic problems is productivity. productivity is intimately tied to knowledge as much as it is to the surplus extracted from manual labor.

130–177. habitual processes of everyday life. at least putatively. Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron. “social contract” theory refers to those perspectives in which the subjects of social domination accept their situation as part of a larger agreement with those in power. I am not claiming that the diploma is entirely superseded by a bachelor’s degree. 141–176. 4. Reproduction in Education. but also by the administration of the university which reserves. among others. the ultimate authority over the process. those who must save it will help not only themselves. students are subject to the tutelage and ultimate judgment of a single advisor. The diploma is still a prerequisite for many public sector jobs and clerical positions in the private sector. England and New York: Cambridge University Press.: Free Press. Wilhelm Reich. 9. One Dimensional Man (Boston: Beacon Press. 1958). Bourdieu. 12. III. 13. Reproduction. However. Society and Culture (Los Angeles: Sage Publications. 1981). The Academic System in American Society (New York: McGraw-Hill. The Credentialed Society (Berkeley. NOTES 1. (New York: Columbia University Press. but their antagonists. Randall Collins. 1971). 1980). 1980). 5. 8. On the other hand.182 Education Under Siege hegemonic categories of social and scientific thought. A possible objection to this assertion might be that even in large universities. Postsecondary education of some kind has become the sine qua non of these jobs. 1979). Essays in Social Theory (Glencoe. his right to certify others is a privilege conferred impersonally. The degree is not signed by the advisor alone. See Jürgen Habermas. 1978). Ca. 1971). Pierre Bourdieu. Learning to Labor. pp. . Alain Touraine. 10. but is no longer a sufficient credential for technical and administrative occupations. the advisor is himself certified by the academic system. a new student movement would have to be created. To achieve this program. argue that the process by which authority establishes itself entails a transformation of the largely unconscious. 11. Communication and the Evolution of Society (Boston: Beacon Press. Herbert Marcuse. Talcott Parsons. Paul Willis. the Frankfort School and Reich. 6. 3. 2. This is the last paradox of liberal and radical practice: there is virtually no likelihood that substantial elements of the powerful will recognize their own selfinterest in saving the academic system from decay. pp. especially graduate programs.: University of California Press. Outline of a Theory of Practices (Cambridge. The Imposition of Compulsory Sexual Morality (New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux. 7. 1964). Here. Bourdieu.

Neo-Conservative Ideology 183 14. neither union has received final certification because there are more than 500 challenged ballots. The AFT represents faculty and some staff at The City University of New York and the faculty in the New York State university system. even when administrators hold formal academic credentials these serve as legitimating fig leaves for a professionalized management.000 votes. By June 1983. As a consequence. has made the teaching profession far less competitive for extremely intelligent. enough to swing the election to the AAUP. This view finds quintessential expression in the discourse of neoconservatives such as John Silber. only 2500 were “nonunion. highly dedicated. Yeshiva University. National Labor Relations Board v. which instituted open admissions policies that benefited those groups and minorities generally excluded from higher education. in part. The logic of substantive quality. However. the President of Boston University. pp. due to the rise of the women’s movement. 17. “Perspectives on Education. 444 U. which in turn is reduced to the call for higher test scores as a regulatory device for admitting students and evaluating teachers. The recruitment of administrators from faculty ranks is rapidly receding in importance as the academic system has increasingly adopted the corporate managerial practice of recruiting professional managers for high university positions. See John Silber. For Silber. and highly responsible women. the stunning victory for faculty unionism is unmistakable: of 14. 16. . 260–261. 672 (1980). in this case. the decline in quality education is.” Silber’s wisdom goes further when he argues that the decline in the quality of primary and secondary education should be placed at the door of those universities such as New York’s City College. is reduced to the logic of empirical evaluation. which by opening up “all kinds of vocational opportunities for women.” Similar victories were won by the AAUP at Rutgers and Wayne State University. The sexist and racist implications that underlie this type of analysis is generally couched in the discourse of achievement and excellence.” Daedalus 113:4 (Fall 1984). In many cases. 15.S. many of those who now elect to go into teaching are among the least talented students we have.


the schools reproduced the workplace. with the market conditions. their performance. and wholesale and information services associated with public and private administration. to the embarrassment of almost everybody. According to its left critics. suddenly found itself massively unemployed. In a period when all types of labor were oversupplied. contrary to the mainstream contention that schools were great levelers of class and social differences. but the pendulum appears to have swung back to a new focus on schools. and most of all. Nothing has changed in the mid-1980s. but how to reduce their capacity to turn out credentialized labor which had. 185 . Since the labor market supplied workers for factories and offices in which most occupations were degraded regardless of the supposed skills required to perform them. they were really training institutions for the labor market.NINE Is Computer Technology the Answer? The Crisis in the Classroom and Educational Reform A DECADE AGO. and by the consequent downgrading of education in the hierarchy of public policy priorities. In the 1970s the force of this critique was somewhat muted by the fiscal crisis of the public sector. Although the so-called “computer revolution” is not new. by cutbacks prompted during the recession of the early 1980s. the policy problem was not how to create more effective schools. American education was similarly degraded (see chapters five and six). there is no doubt that computer-mediated work is fast becoming the sine qua non of most work in the “growth” sector of the economy. radical critics argued that. retailing. their ability to supply the highly skilled workforce required by the rapid and relentless introduction of new technologies in the workplace. it seemed. the tertiary sectors such as financial services. Political concern with the fate of the schools varied.

Their argument is fairly simple: if schools are to perform their role as subordinate. except the invocation that schools provide the means by which blacks. Educators. citizenship education.186 Education Under Siege As information processing equipment such as computers and video display terminals are implanted on the job and literally dozens of new computer producing and software companies dot the landscape. a new public debate has emerged about whether schools can fill the bill demanded by these developments. so the argument goes. Rather than producing a new generation of credentialized workers possessing “irrelevant” skills to the actual labor market. school administrators and teachers can learn what outcomes will meet employer needs. they must be completely overhauled. If schools have been training institutions masked as purveyors of the western intellectual tradition. conservatives contend that the traditional arms length relationship between schools and business must be ended. neo-conservatives. have embraced their function as suppliers of human capital with renewed gusto. women and other minorities obtain equity. When “high tech” is the name of the job game. but vital institutions to the corporate capitalist order. in say. In the first place. this reminder of the equality of opportunity doctrine has been delivered in the language of relevance. better to take off the mask and get down to the business of American education—namely.S. business.1 As we mentioned in the previous chapter. By merging school and corporate interests explicitly. public is suffering from a plague of high emotional anxiety. The education debate has come full circle. conservatives want the curriculum to fit into short range and long term business prospects and interests. Blacks suffer a rising level of joblessness amid a feeble economic recovery in which employment has . must climb down from their ivory towers and work out a new era of collaboration with employers. accepting the radical critique of the liberal contention that schools are democratizing institutions. Recently. If “whitey” has three computers in (his) elementary school. has contributed to the emergence of a broad consensus among the powerful and the powerless that the task now is to make sure that students are delivered to the labor market possessing the skills employers want. The revival of public concern with schools is prompted by widespread recognition that the halcyon days of apparently unlimited economic growth and concomitant opportunity are gone forever and that the job market has reverted to its classic uncertainty. in our time liberal ideas have virtually disappeared from the public discourse. ghetto schools must have the same number. The U. The broadly based cynicism regarding the role of schools. parents and teachers should combine forces to make sure that junior begins his or her computer education even before kindergarten.

what kind of economy is emerging in the U. systems analysts and skilled maintenance personnel as well as less skilled operators will . Not only are opportunities for professionals and managers beginning to diminish but the chance for young men to get well-paid factory jobs is now almost nil. or low level of skill. banks and insurance companies. the rush to market-oriented technical education not only corresponds to conservative reminders that the bottom line for schools is jobpreparedness. economists and employment analysts are not able to answer reasonable questions such as how many new computer jobs in all categories will exist in 1995. As the number of women who head households grows. Under these circumstances. America is becoming a two class system of rich and poor. shows that the market reflects the disappearance of the middle class. Wages for unskilled and semiskilled workers have not been lower since 1967 as relatively high paying auto. retail stores and small corporate offices employ millions of women who do not earn anything like an “American” salary.S. for example. in different ways. defined as the $15.000 to $35.000 a year income group. but not dramatically. Except in the public sector where most clerical and technical labor belongs to a union in the major cities and states. Fortune. more broadly. or whether these jobs will require a high. Moreover. the general wage level declines because most “women’s work” is in nonunion service jobs. what educational prerequisites are attached to them and. their consumption patterns differ markedly from those of traditional male blue collar workers.” is that we don’t know what the job situation will be ten years from now. but has become the flag under which those in search of equity also march. The still expanding tertiary sector offers chronically low wages except for the tiny group of managers at the top. In September 1983 the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a projection of the leading employment categories in 1990. the professionals and self-employed middle classes. A trouble with the contemporary penchant to equate the “search for excellence” with strengthening what James Truslow Adams once called “our business civilization. The November 1983 issue of Fortune magazine. documented the polarization of our class structure. and electrical plants close down or sharply reduce their workforce. Therefore. along with a number of economists have.Computer Technology 187 abated for whites.S. steel. both its job generating capacity and the types of employment that will correspond to the position of the U. we would want to know where new jobs are likely to be created. when it has become virtually impossible for a young working class male to follow his father into the mill or mine. 2 While computer occupations of all types including programmers. in the international division of labor.. Even as “computer literacy” has become the slogan informing curriculum reform. medium.

including middle managers. the relationship between technological innovation and the workplace suggests that schools have less to do with preparing students for definite skilled labor than with other functions. This relative degradation of skill is the result of the fact that technological change means for the most part. professional schools issue credentials and a course of study that prepare a relatively small number of physicians. the extent of computer-mediated jobs may be hidden by this sectoral projection. and skilled operatives who constituted a kind of privileged stratrum within the workplace. retail food establishments will employ 2. which remain to be discussed. As productivity increased.75 million clerical jobs will be created and factories will offer jobs for slightly more than a million new workers. the introduction of machines usually entails a simultaneous process of employer-initiated reorganization in which the operator’s scope of responsibility is reduced by rationalization. Thus. Further. cashiers may be required to use computers and clerical workers will undoubtedly perform some computer work.188 Education Under Siege employ less than a million. machine maintenance workers.3 Similarly. teachers and scientific and technical workers for important occupations in the labor market. as any sociologist or historian of work knows well. repetitive and conceptually narrow for the overwhelming majority as a much smaller number of highly trained technicians and managers enlarge their responsibility. the tendency of succeeding generations of technologies has been to reduce the quality and duration of prerequisites needed to perform industrial or service labor. and that the credentialling process is actually a negotiation between school authorities and the professional associations which control certification. Work becomes increasingly task specific. Yet. For. the demand for labor relative to .5 million persons. transferring skills to machines. attorneys. even this highly optimistic forecast by the government reveals that the preponderance of new jobs created by the massive introductions of computer and other advanced technologies will be less skilled than those in older intermediate technology industries such as steel and machine production. Of course. suffice it to remark here than an abundant and detailed literature in the study of professional formation shows that the professional is constituted as much by his or her ideological preparation as by technical education. Although this is not the place to discuss the degree to which the length of training received corresponds to a socialization process rather than being technically necessary (see chapter eight). the tendency of computer mediated work is to affect this stratum by reducing its autonomy. This is not to claim that schools have no job related role. At the most obvious. 1. the length of school attendance is linked to labor market conditions. While intermediate industrial and service technologies also created a stratum of middle managers.

office automation now generalized to nearly all banks. seeking postsecondary credentials in the hope of getting a job.Computer Technology 189 output diminished considerably in the major industrial countries during the twentieth century. not more. On the other hand. scientific and managerial hierarchy because much of the change is internally generated and radically reduces the time during which a particular technique remains operative. At the same time. The new emphasis on schools has misidentified the problem: rapidly changing technologies will require less. specialized education and more “generic” knowledge for the minority destined to occupy places in the technical. due to expanded state economic intervention and the formation of the welfare state. in some areas. the enlargement of the public sector. it will require less task specific. For most of the post Second World War years. On the one hand. Broad conceptually-oriented curriculum where processes of abstraction. These developments had contradictory effects on schools. the situation radically changed after 1970 as the worldwide economic crisis and a new international division of labor forced acceleration in technological innovation and massive production capital migration away from the metropolitan centers. and preparation in the logical processes underlying all calculation are far more relevant to the changing workplace. the financial pressure on schools increased because of the shrunken tax base produced by high unemployment and capital flight. The fiscal crisis of the state has halted the inexorable accretion of the public bureaucracy and. what America needs is a return to the liberal arts if indeed issues of equity as well as labor market preparation are to be successfully . particularly wages. training for the majority. For this reason. especially where new technologies are implanted is actually reducing labor forces (except managers who seem to grow in number. until 1970. At the same time. students tended to stay in school longer. specialized vocational training has less applicability to the work world than ever before. In short. the social and historical context of scientific and technological innovation. technological changes were introduced in order to reduce labor. machinists were replaced by less skilled labor but the overall employment of these occupations was reduced. Lengthened school attendance reduced pressure on the labor market. combined with a growth of private services and increased the size of the tertiary sector. the decline of manufacturing did not result in large scale unemployment among adults in their prime working age because tertiary employment grew at a fast rate. However. if not influence). insurance companies and head offices of major corporations is reducing the ratio of labor to output. and rendering old skills associated with clerical labor obsolete.

The exercise of absolute power over the individual to force basic education corresponds to a military model of learning. The “voluntarist” theory insures that students who do not elect to imbibe school knowledge may rationalize their own refusal as personal failure. even if the military model has made considerable headway in recent years. the system reproduces individual responsibility which.S. Here we can see the operationalization of the adage “you make your bed. after all. the guardhouse. In fact. in any case. logic and the scientific method should be required. and the economic and cultural forces are accorded significant determination. which stresses the role of great men in shaping our contemporary world. schools expect that a rising percentage of students will “fail” to internalize those knowledges. thereby condemning themselves. one of the striking themes sounded by most of the reports on the crisis in education is that “old fashioned” pedagogies must give way to new. the liberal ideology that schools could actually strengthen democratic institutions relies on the voluntary collaboration between student and teacher despite the legal obligation for compulsory schooling. In contrast. In accordance with this still dominant view. is usually missed by students. now lie in it. Its unintended consequence was to show that there is no secret to acquiring elementary cognitive skills.4 There is a question of the three R’s. in most instances. On the other hand. there is a problem with this example: conservatives have no difficulty advocating compulsion if other methods fail.190 Education Under Siege addressed. teachers should help students understand history as a social process. but the way in which the slippage of basic skills is discussed betrays the instrumentalism conservatives take on all education issues. worse. That is. Soldiers refusing to learn how to read to the level of instructions were condemned to the most menial tasks such as kitchen duty or. History which has languished at all levels of schooling. one in which social movements as well as the state participate. In this mode of internalization. philosophy. would be returned to a position of eminence. or featuring events whose significance. anybody can achieve the three R’s. However. to the lower rungs of the occupational and social hierarchy. is a legitimate variant of what is meant by freedom. Like the French secondary schools. The history of the U. authorities may compel literacy. computer mediated ways of learning. Those who argue unashamedly for the technicization of .” The ideology of voluntarism is still dominant among school people. instead of orienting the social science curriculum to a patriotic purpose. the requirement that students attend school for a specified minimum period of their lives does not imply a parallel obligation to learn the prescribed knowledges mandated by schools. military during the Second World War demonstrates the maxim that. with sufficient coercive powers.

but more or less self-consciously adopt a market orientation in the learning process itself. a new ethos is superimposed: the authority of the fiercely competitive marketplace. “we” the school will not punish you. If you don’t learn. Students should be goal directed from an early age and their thirst to acquire marketable skills should be cultivated through intense competition. and this is the primary direction of America’s future.Computer Technology 191 education in the service of labor market efficiency emphasize that the scientific and technological revolution currently underway entails a fundamental epistemological transformation. if not the scientific method. Since the notion of competition for scarce resources is the core of neo-liberal economic theory (now fully the property of neo-conservatives).” in a British comprehensive high school. they need skills. This radical change means that the old effective model according to which the (elementary) school teacher is a parent surrogate must be severely modified. in their negative interaction with school authorities. proposed by conservatives and rapidly becoming hegemonic in all discussions of the “crisis.5 The contribution of this work which we mentioned in other chapters. thus insuring failure. students don’t need love. Willis departs sharply from the reproduction theorists discussed in chapter five who argue that the hierarchy of school/curriculum produces inferior educational opportunity for working class students. life will. is to argue that working class “lads. We would argue that the introduction of computer mediated learning. This ideology marks a difference from that discussed in Paul Willis’ Learning to Labor. often presented entirely in its technological mode. Thus. schools. Willis takes school ideology at face value: it offers through school knowledge. By refusing to acquire school knowledge through their rebellion against authority. or to be more exact. they condemn themselves to factory labor. Coercion appears in the form of externally induced fear. Socialization occurs as an unintended consequence of the youth revolt. . even in the nursery. is only a part of a larger shift in the ideology of schools. reproduce their own working class situation. conforming to socialization imperatives must abandon the family-welfare state model of society and embrace the adage that it’s a jungle out there. they sense that submission to school authorities is a tacit agreement to play the middle class game.” This larger shift proposes that school ambience no longer conform to the surrogate family metaphor. His point is that it is not that kids “fail” to cut the mustard but they do not want those places. Even the elementary school classroom must be infused with the aspiration for excellence signified best by the technological spirit. while holding tenuously to a voluntarism in which the student elects to fail with the minimum of external coercion. the chance for all kids to compete for mobility places.

the schools would provide enough computer hardware to guarantee the reproduction of the ideology of equal opportunity. the doctrine of “career and occupational” education has progressively made deep incursions into the liberal arts orientation of school authorities. Even as he was observing these conventry youth leaving school to take their places in the factory. in turn. or remain unemployed until the local factory offers a few openings. even when the job description does not require actual computer proficiency. instrumental ideologies have been in the schools but not fully of them.6 This uncertainty is by . until now. Plants have closed and technological change has reduced workforces even further. The latest attack on the irrelevance of the schools. enter the armed forces in the hope of learning a trade. the Department of Education and others admitted that we simply cannot know for certain what the shape of the U. However. their mediocrity. The proliferation of “career” days at the junior high school as well as high school levels is all too common. The simple fact is that high paid factory work has more or less disappeared as an option for most noncredentialled working class youth. and their technolgical backwardness marks a bid by a new ideological configuration to become the mainstream of school knowledge. educators are urged to base the curriculum on labor market trends which. not the least of which is that economic forecasting has turned out to be as accurate as playing the football pool. At a recent conference co-sponsored by the Harvard Educational Review. this scenario has guided school policy for many years. Some might object that. the main task of schools in the conservative vision is to inculcate enough fear within students to induce learning. most of the jobs require a civil service examination and a high school diploma. we would argue that. There are many problems with this turn towards relevance. the site of the study. the Midlands. instrumental rationality underlies most academic and vocational counseling. In short. entry-level work in financial services such as banks. short order cooks in fast food chains and other relatively unskilled jobs. Although public sector jobs will be less available if the conservative discourse succeeds as social policy.S. Concomitantly.192 Education Under Siege Yet conditions have changed since Willis’ study was completed in the early 1970s. insurance companies and brokerage houses will increasingly ask for computer literacy as a screening device. Indeed. was experiencing dramatic disinvestment. Now. It signifies the triumph of the school-business partnership approach to learning motivation. economy will be ten years from now. except for the computer and other technological toys. Their choices are to enter the retail industry in such occupations as laborers in supermarkets. are grounded in economic forecasting. respected analysts from the National Science Foundation.

One school of thought assumes the ineluctability of laborsaving technologies that are multiplied in their capacity many times over. Further. robotics and numerical controls. Suppose we understood that a curriculum should have a life of at least twenty years. the vagaries of the world competition for goods and capital. now as before. all contribute to the sad conclusion that “we don’t know” the shape of things to come. even for those seeking specific occupational training. Assuming a concomitant rate of technologically generated displacement in the tertiary sector. The technological orientation confronts immediately the question of how much work is likely to be available for the productive population (ages 21–55) in the year 2005 and what kind of work is likely to be offered? The answers to both questions are unknown. The rapidity of the restructuring of the international division of labor. This fix would be subject to modification. lead in high technology and its apparent eclipse in intermediate technology will remain. although valuable in the short term. To be sure. after twenty years of service.Computer Technology 193 no means a commentary on the deficiencies of economists’ forecasting tools. the difficulty assessing whether the U. how long will the computer age last before it is replaced by fiber optics? Fiber opticians claim that the laser beam will replace the drill. school officials and government leaders are the wrong options. we may witness a net loss of jobs. the ordinary computerized energy plants and many other industrial and information functions.S. A unit of investment displaces many workers compared to a much lower input/displacement ratio in the industrial era at the turn of the twentieth century. These developments do not argue that the specializations proposed by employers. but its essential outlines would remain intact. Under these circumstances we may expect a substantial move to worksharing arrangements such as shorter work weeks. The applications of this new branch of physics have not yet been fully developed but it is certain that when they are. we know that those aspiring to clerical occupations will have to add word processing to their skills. the scientific and technological revolution is already in our midst. And. the focus on computer-mediated training. but that specialization remains. telematics has not yet reached maturity despite its widespread use. Further. say. does nothing to prepare the student for change itself. a cruel deception as a model for general education. The question is. we may witness yet another shift in the core knowledges required by the industrial and service orders as well as communications and information processing. it is almost certain that many industrial occupations will be required to conjure with the computer. memory chips. a high level of public funding for long periods of layoff likely to be caused by increased productivity and earlier retirement. If .

but the service economy succeeded in absorbing those who would have obtained factory jobs in the old regime. the United States no longer has a free reign in capital and commodity markets and faces severe competition from countries that have succeeded in some areas in producing the same goods more cheaply or. the government would be required to provide jobs or income for those unable to find a place in the commodity producing economy. those displaced in one sector will find jobs in the machinery building sector. labor shortages in some areas. The dramatic reductions underway in American living standards are partial adjustments to the growing equality between this country and western Europe and Japan. we have a situation of long term structural unemployment. the prospect for a new surge in employment is exceedingly doubtful. notably experienced tailors. Unless one can project growth levels that exceed productivity gains. The technological revolution is a characteristic response to higher wage costs. Japan and some countries of southern Europe. There are. some scientific specialists. professional and managerial categories. A second school repeats the familiar argument made during the industrial revolution that technological progress does not signify massive unemployment.S. there is no evidence of a demand for the mass worker. the highest categories of computer scientists and most important for education. It is doubtful for all the reasons cited for the current stagnation and crisis: unlike the postwar period. alternatively. science teachers at all levels. of better quality. to be sure. It was likely that intermediate technologies manufacturing would migrate to lower wage and lower cost areas.194 Education Under Siege the absolute number of new jobs created is lower than in the 1970s. is to prepare students for a different kind of participation: labor force participation will remain an important mission for schools whatever the critique of its most technocratic variant. It is aimed at labor displacement and is succeeding to a large degree. The fate of schools. They cite the case of the postwar era when factory jobs stagnated due to high productivity levels. if it is to be tied to the economy. In any case. should be challenged by Germany. but the issues of democratic . In this case. but the birth rate rises or remains constant. In this eventuality. If the above description is correct. the situation that produced the postwar boom no longer pertains. The problem with this argument is that recent technological/productivity developments have been led by the services. the current focus on making education more synchronous to the economy has already been fulfilled. for those technically trained below technical. the question would not be what specific skills the jobless worker possesses to make them more marketable but how to train her/him on the basis of public needs that are labor intensive and service oriented. According to this view. However. it was nearly inevitable that the U.

Dewey preserved Frederick Jackson Turner’s “frontier thesis. In other words. acquiring school knowledge was the workers substitute for land grants that inspired Americans born after the Civil War. Schools provided the aspiration for recognition and status through literacy even where economic opportunity seemed increasingly problematic. the frontier had closed. The mission of the school was to preserve the dream that America was a land of unlimited opportunity and social justice.Computer Technology 195 participation and. and social organizations would be possible. immigrants and women entered them rather than choosing to opt for more radical solutions to their problems. Thus. Dewey’s faith was that schools provided the key to whether democratic participation through electoral. Their tasks. particularly the degree to which the underlying population of workers. Although the concept of vocational education was an important element in Dewey’s .7 The period of the 1890s and the turn of the century marked an intensity of organizing. even for the few. by the late 1880s. labor strife. the starting point for such a position will have to begin with John Dewey’s notion of citizenship education. America faced three political developments that made this task urgent for a liberal society: (a) eastern and southern European immigration had reached the proportions of a tidal wave. if only room could be made for the underclasses and the oppressed. even as corporate concentration had become a ubiquitous feature of the political economy. by all accounts.” except he substituted schools for the lands of the West. the vitality of America depended on the strength of its basic political and economic institutions. For Dewey. and (c) a deeply enraged working class was beginning to stir. preparation for that portion of the lifeworld that is separated from work will assume an increasingly central place in daily life. equally important. civic. (b) women were agitating for sufferage and entering the labor force in large numbers. It was Dewey’s achievement to have preserved the doctrine of middle class levelling. and political awakening that has remained unmatched in the past forty years in the United States. This substitution by Dewey constituted a major shift from the country to the city since. In our opinion. CRITICAL CITIZENSHIP AND EDUCATIONAL REFORM When John Dewey issued the call for citizenship education at the turn of the century. which he advocated with considerable urgency. schools were to provide the basic means by which individuals and groups could attain power in these arenas. For immigrants. beyond the provision of basic labor market skills. was to become the central instrument for the integration of those historically excluded from opportunity within the economic and political system.

The critical legacy of Dewey’s thought has not informed the existing discourse of educational reform. “shop” classes. American educational theory has refused to link theory to practice and has produced not only a divided curriculum.. and the very idea of the social as a viable learning category seem to occupy a marginal place in defining the theoretical culture of American schooling. The language of possibility and hope. Of course. as we mentioned in chapter one. active citizenry. and other practical activities was advocated in terms of cognitive objectives. his hopes for the public schools straddled the line between an instrumentalism that served the corporate order and a democratic instrumentalism that could criticize and subvert it. The other road is towards schools as a means of empowerment for racial minorities. one that is tied to social empowerment and active citizenship. all of whom have been consigned to the political margins in American history. While he did not deny that the relationship between theory and practice served an important socialization function. As philosophers of public schooling. despite the existence of .196 Education Under Siege educational philosophy. but has also refused to interrogate the presuppositions that inform its own ideology. Dewey and his colleagues remained tied to a radical intention. women and working people. the notion of public service. In this respect. Ethical and political considerations. is that the underlying goal of Dewey’s philosophy was to create an educated. In this sense. despite the internally contradictory character of his proposals. Within the dominant discourse on schooling. American educational theory subordinated itself to a conservative pragmatism that has been the hallmark of American ideology.e. his more insistent observation was that the classical barriers established by scholasticism between the practical world and formal knowledge constituted an obstacle to learning as a critical endeavor. Rather. Tied to the practical and to the immediacy of experience. has given way to the language of the instrumental. Dewey’s reliance on work fit into his concept that learning could only be achieved by doing. i. Schooling as an instrumental enterprise defines its goals in business and privatized terms. one that severs intellectual from manual labor. the dominant ideology is not the only possible path that can be derived from Dewey’s call for the unity of theory and practice. Exposing students to the world of work through cooperative education. instrumentalism and the culture of individualism go hand in hand. Our interpretation of Dewey takes his words at face value. his objective was not so much to insure labor market integration for the millions of students entering schools for the first time. School administrators and educational philosophers have chosen to ignore Dewey’s epistemological appeal to experience as a road to knowledge. The important point here. to realize the promise of democratic power through the vehicle of education.

but to find a niche in the economic order that promises personal security. particularly business. voluntary associations such as trade unions and civil rights organizations and the pervasive doctrine of individualism. Not only do they attempt to “free” students from their collective moralities and cultural forms. they have turned to increasing their ties with private resources. political theory and social . We do not claim that schools are primarily or even mainly responsible for this trend. Occupational educational goals signify not the chance to broaden one’s influence in social life. they also subvert the possibility for functioning as a critical public sphere dedicated to teaching civic courage and critical literacy by embracing business interests that collapse the critical into the instrumental and the profitable. Needless to say.Computer Technology 197 participatory forms such as sufferage. but the very foundation for them as it develops around a civic consciousness reared in the imperatives of political and economic democracy is under fire. but they have refused to become oppositional to this movement. we seem to face a loss of ethical life generated by the decline of democratic forms of communication. they have lacked a counterhegemonic philosophy to oppose the increasing technicization of education and a theory of school purposes that may legitimate their opposition. What we are facing currently is not simply an increasingly dangerous form of growing illiteracy regarding what counts in everyday life and in the institutions that constitute the web and ideology of power. political and economic power has become ever more concentrated at the top not only because of the inexorable drive towards corporate concentration. but more significantly. pressured by the long term decline of public revenues. Not only are critical public spheres disappearing in this society.) but also because the public sphere of political and economic discourse has narrowed considerably since the Second World War. Instead. (a story too well known to be rehearsed here. It may be necessary for teachers and school theorists to study political economy. Finding a way back towards independence requires a concerted effort to reconstruct educational philosophy in terms of a broadly based democratic ethos as well as a detailed critique of the claims of the new conservatives. Such a critique would have to ground itself in the study of the labor processes associated with contemporary technologies and work organization as well as a deep understanding of the decline of America’s position in the world economy. The technicist orientation of schools throughout this century has been consonant with the tendency of American society as a whole toward depoliticization and privatization. The struggle they wage contains a destructive logic. uncritically influenced by the ideology of individualism. As a result.

See chapter eight for a detailed treatment of this issue. (New York: Academic Press. Experts Say. 7. 5. NOTES 1. 1981). in Washington. Democracy and Education (New York: The Free Press. 1966). Paul Willis. p.” New York Times. 1981). These figures are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and appeared in William Serrin. and the Institute for Educational Leadership. The Rise of Professionalism (Berkeley: University of California Press. The Credential Society. Magali Larson. Inc. D. See also Henry M. School of Education. Randall Collins. the Bureau of National Affairs. 2. and the Reagan Administration. Learning to Labor (New York: Columbia University Press. See Henry Giroux.” co-sponsored by Harvard Educational Review.C. Ideology. especially chapter one. “High Tech is No Jobs Panacea. 1. 1983. February 1984.Levin. Stanford University. 18 September 1983. 16 pp. A National Conference on “Education. John Dewey. 1979).198 Education Under Siege psychology as forms of classroom methods and administration. and the Process of Schooling (Philadelphia: Temple University Press. “State Planning for Higher Education and Jobs in an Age of High Technology. Public Policy. 1977). 3. Policy paper. p. 4.” Institute for Research on Educational Finance and Governance. For the re-founding of the democratic purpose of schools can presuppose neither an expanding economy that legitimates mobility aspirations nor a political order that is sympathetic to the radical interpretation of John Dewey’s democratic philosophy. on November 21–22. 6. 28. . Culture.

the nature and extent of the crisis in public education and its relationship to the wider society are the objects of national debate. society may be facing a dilemma that calls into question its very foundation as a democratic nation. but also because it brings into view a “new” public philosophy.S. U.” and the National Task Force on Education for Economic Growth claims that “a real emergency is upon us. ultimately.TEN Education and the Crisis in Public Philosophy IN THE CURRENT debate around the crisis in education and the role that federal policy should play in resolving it.S. what interests it represents. Such an analysis is valuable because 199 . adequately name the nature of the crisis? Secondly. those issues which it has chosen to ignore or deemphasize. in my estimation. one that. we are a “nation at risk” because of the poor quality of our educational system. and. This debate is important not only because it focuses attention on the declining quality of our schools and economy. First.” Needless to say.2 Two fundamental questions must be brought into this debate. that is. Similarly. In our view. the Carnegie Foundation report argues that “the teaching profession is in crisis in this country. does this philosophy itself represent as much of a threat to our nation as the problems it has identified? These are crucial issues because any attempt to define what form a federal policy in education might take will be contingent upon understanding how such a policy has been made. how it defines the nature of the problems it attempts to address. is as problematic as the crisis that it attempts to define and resolve. does this new public philosophy.1 In the words of the National Commission on Excellence in Education. There are hints of the magnitude of the crisis in the language of the recent reports on public education. education should be analyzed not only on the strengths of its stated assumptions but also on the nature of its structured silences. which has defined the parameters of the existing crisis and the varied recommendations to resolve it. the debate about the reality and promise of U.

raising teacher salaries. different types of knowledge are measured against the benefits they provide to national security and technological growth. this model of economic rationality becomes the basis for new relationships between the schools and the economic sector. with its lagging domestic performance and its shrinking preeminence in the international marketplace.”4 As we have stated throughout this book. and the failure of the schools to educate students to meet the economic needs of the dominant society. in other instances more restrained voices have claimed that although schools may not have caused the economic crisis. In some cases it is argued that schools are in fact responsible for this crisis. John Casteen.”3 The important issue here is that economic rationality becomes both the referent and the ideal for change. What is most striking in the current debate is the relationship that is being drawn between the state of the U. and forms of knowledge associated with high technology occupy a high status position in this model. economy. Thus. and social practices necessary to produce the labor force for an increasingly complex. in the National Commission on Excellence report when it measures educational success against the need to maintain “the slim competitive edge we still retain in world markets”. skills.200 Education Under Siege it provides the opportunity to examine the basis of the public philosophy that has strongly influenced the language of the debate and the issues it has chosen to legitimate. These and other voices share a discourse that defines economic rationality as the model of public reason. the solutions for school reform that have emerged from the current debate are strongly shaped by the technocratic and instrumental logic that informs this model of economic reason. Within the context of this rationality. Moreover. for instance. Furthermore. much less tomorrow’s. schools become important only to the degree that they can provide the forms of knowledge. proposed solutions are largely technical in nature and include such recommendations as extending the school day. Thus. For instance. business and educational leaders argue for specific forms of knowledge that are deemed important for our schools and the future of our society. within the boundaries of this discourse. math. this form of logic is also evident in the claim of the Economic Growth Task Force that public schools “are not doing an adequate job of education for today’s requirements in the workplace. to articulate statements of standards for schools. the secretary of education for Virginia. they can ameliorate it by promoting excellence and educational leadership.S. and to pool resources to achieve the goals. science. expresses the spirit of this position in his call for each state to bring “together the corporate sector and the schools to define common goals. as an ideal. technological economy. This discourse is evident. .

begins with the wrong problems. High unemployment. with its celebration of economic and technocratic reason. The irony of this recommendation becomes clear in the most recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics which indicates that the bulk of jobs that will be available in the next ten years will be in low level service industries that require very little skill.6 Educating a labor force with skills for which there will be few jobs available. the number of jobs requiring middle level skills has been gradually decreasing. raises fundamental questions about the nature of the economy itself and the ideologies that legitimate it. and unemployment [have left] communities with fewer economic resources to tax. Needless to say. furthermore. it is often defined less in terms of a substantive call for developing higher order forms of critical reasoning and civic behavior than in terms of procedural demands for more stringent modes of competency testing and evaluation. and that a relatively small proportion of jobs will be available in the high technology fields. In addition to poor planning and bad investment policies. in doing so. The current economic crisis this country faces has not been caused by public education. and the persistence of vast inequalities in wealth and power in this country have little to do with the absence of school-related skills.”7 This shrinking tax base has contributed to massive teacher layoffs.5 The implications of this polarization for schools are at odds with the urgent demands by educational and economic leaders that the country implement a massive educational program to train students for the high technology job revolution. the closing of schools. the new public philosophy. plant closings. Even when there is an appeal for excellence. the growing shortage of curriculum materials. and this is evident in the financial stress that plagues many school systems. it misrepresents the problems it endorses and. but it also points to the growing polarization of future job opportunities. In many of our major cities. In our judgment. “inflation. This has not only produced high unemployment levels. and the elimination of many school programs. inflation. As a result. If there is a crisis in the quality of education in this country. the economy has undergone a major shift from dependence on its traditional agricultural and manufacturing base to reliance on high technology and service industries. it has been exacerbated by these trends—trends for which education is not .The Crisis in Public Philosophy 201 and enforcing school discipline. advocates the wrong solutions. while simultaneously ignoring the growth of a market that demands fewer and fewer intellectual skills. declining productivity. the quality of schooling has been deeply affected by the crisis in the economy. though the economic crisis has had a significant effect on the problems schools are experiencing.

For these students. and cultural processes that structure American society.8 It is important to point out that many of these problems are social and political in nature and cannot be understood solely within the framework proposed by the new public philosophy. and dreams. In actuality the logic underlying that public philosophy centers around support for a marriage between public schools and the business community on the one hand.202 Education Under Siege responsible. the new public philosophy fails not only in its analysis of U. schooling is a place that disconfirms rather than confirms their histories. experiences. offer few opportunities for self and social empowerment. this alienation is expressed in the high rate of student absenteeism and school violence. this version of public philosophy places undue emphasis on specific cognitive and technical outcomes. But there are other problems that must be highlighted. social. for instance. for many students. Moreover.S. But it is one thing to argue that this philosophy has misrepresented the crisis in education and proposed inadequate solutions. Put another way. and a dizzying celebration of testing.9 What is being stressed here moves far beyond the so-called “new consensus” demand to teach students how to become functionally literate or how to master minimal competencies and basic skills. What all its divergent intellectual strands have in common is a theoretical indifference to providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary for a broad understanding of the sociopolitical processes at work in this country. it is another issue altogether to claim that it actually contributes to that crisis. It is our contention that the new public philosophy abdicates its responsibility to insure that public schools can function to enable . but also in its inability to provide a vision that takes seriously the kind of thoughtful participation in sociopolitical life that is expected from citizens in a democratic society. These are problems that need explanations and solutions other than those that presently dominate the debate on education. It is to this point that we will now turn. the new public philosophy undermines the development of public spaces where people can learn and practice the skills of democratic participation in the wider political. In our judgment. and the mastery of technical and specialized skills on the other. schools and the nature of the existing crisis. In part. It is alarming to note. and in the refusal of many students to take seriously the academic demands and social practices of schools. This emphasis represents an ideology that undermines the importance of promoting in this society the development of critical public spheres where the capacity for learning is not reduced to economic or technical considerations. the estimation that on any one day in New York City fifty percent of the high school students are absent from school. Schools. sorting procedures. particularly those from the lowest socioeconomic level of society.

These are not entirely negative goals. within this model of rationality public education is defined primarily through a struggle for economic success and individual mobility. For instance. the new philosophy is generally silent about how schools might be influenced by such institutions in reproducing larger structural inequalities. That is. for understanding that many of the problems schools face are. this abdication reinforces the developing crisis in moral and civic courage that our nation currently faces. and politics work on and in schools so as to undermine the basic values of community and democracy. finally. but it also provides the philosophical basis for launching an assault on the relevance of any public sphere dedicated to goals other than those which merely defend narrow models of technical reason and economic needs. state. ideology. to a very different crisis from that being emphasized in the current debate. Offering little or no critique of how existing social. that is. and federal levels. in fact. political. political. and economic institutions may contribute to the reproduction of deep inequalities in this society.”10 Moreover. cultural. What is at issue is the importance of recognizing that the new public philosophy represents an ideology that does not contain an adequate .The Crisis in Public Philosophy 203 students “to experience a meaningful sense of personal and political liberty and to live a moral life. or for comprehending those school practices that systematically promote failure among certain segments of our nation’s youth. Furthermore. This issue points. In effect. issues that should be at the core of any debate regarding educational policy at the local. there is no room in this discourse for understanding how the quest for excellence might be undermined by the realities of social class. in part. but an undue emphasis on them suggests that economics are more important to our nation and schools than our commitment to democratic principles. a life lived in accordance with moral rules and principles. particularly working class and minority youth. privilege.12 Such a view is not only wrong. the risk our society confronts involves in part the failure to take seriously the need to develop a public policy informed by the principles of critical literacy and civic courage. and other powerful socioeconomic forces that pull schools in the opposite direction. but also its failure to promote an ethic of civic responsibility that holds in check those privatized and narrow interests that constantly threaten the public good. one that centers around not only the failure of the United States to broaden its conception of the proper role of the citizen in a democratic society. or. what is missing here is any understanding of how power.11 Underlying the new philosophy’s commitment to reordering public education is a set of assumptions that are profoundly conservative in nature and detrimental in purpose to viewing schools as institutions that provide a noble public service. and economic in nature and transcend the limited focus on individual achievement and success.


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rationale for defending schools, or any other public sphere committed to performing a democratic public service. That is, such a philosophy does not hold an adequate justification for linking schools to a mission that promotes a civic consciousness, one that encourages the development of an active citizenry and public participation on the basis of moral and ethical principles, as opposed to forms of participation tied merely to economic self-sufficiency and self-interest. The new philosophy is tied largely to assumptions that view schools as means to increasing individual achievement and promoting industrial needs. Such a view makes it difficult to defend public education in political and ethical terms. In fact, it lends support to programs aimed at severely reducing funding and dismantling public education. The economic and privatized interests on which the new philosophy defends itself do not offer a challenge to the governments’ call for tuition tax credits, educational vouchers, the reduction of federal funding for education, or the elimination of the Department of Education. Its model of economic reason cannot generate a discourse that defends programs as a public service tied to improving democratic traditions. A critique of Reagan’s policies would have to begin on very different terms and principles. It would have to defend schools as public spheres responsible for developing an indispensable public service to the nation. Such a view would point to the value of schools as institutions designed to awaken the moral, political, and civic responsibilities of its youth. This would demand an altogether different public philosophy, one which would point to very different problems in public education, advocate different solutions, and provide a different rationale for federal policymaking in education. The fundamental question that has haunted many educational and political critics is, “What principles do we use to reconstruct U.S. schools on the basis of democratic values?” Some critics have eluded the question by arguing that schools are merely the pawns of corporate capital, while others have argued that schools should become an extension of such interests. In both cases, it is claimed that schools do not serve the public interest. But, neither the determinism and cynicism of liberal critics nor the relatively individualistic tendencies celebrated by their more conservative counterparts provides a program for reconstructing schools around the notion of the public good. An alternative form of public philosophy needs to fill this theoretical void and provide the basis for developing a constructive federal policy on education. Such a philosophy would take as its starting point not the particularities of individual interests or forms of achievement, but the relationship of schools to the demands of active forms of community life. An alternative public philosophy would begin by recognizing the relationship between the

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public sphere and the state, on the one hand, and the notion of learning and citizenship on the other.13 The public sphere, in our view, refers to those arenas of social life such as church associations, trade unions, social movements, and voluntary associations, where dialogue and critique provide for the cultivation of democratic sentiments and habits. It is in this sphere that people not only create the conditions where they can explore and talk about their needs, but also where democratic traditions function to mediate the role of government action. In the public sphere, forms of civic courage are nourished and displayed, and the state becomes an object of critical inquiry rather than veneration. In this case, civic courage represents a form of political and ethical scrutiny that defines citizenship not as a function of the state but as a quality that permeates all of social life, a quality that speaks to forms of critical literacy and social empowerment aimed at developing democratic and just communities. The principles that inform the role of state and federal policy within this context are organized around a public philosophy dedicated to the creation of an educated citizenry capable of exercising political and ethical leadership in the public sphere. The notion of active citizenship is not limited to the conservative policy of making a choice between private and public education. On the contrary, it points to developing educational policies outside an elite pattern of politics proposed by experts and government officials. But the notion of active citizenship also simultaneously endorses educational policies designed to strengthen public education by securing financial assistance from the federal government, while qualifying such aid by ensuring that the federal government is not able to control the programs it supports. In this case, the federal government is providing a service rather than exercising a form of centralized control.14 The notion of being able to think critically on the basis of informed judgment and to develop a respect for democratic forms of self- and social-empowerment represent the basis for organizing school programs around the principles of critical literacy and civic courage. In other words, schools should be seen as institutions that prepare people for democracy. They should promote the acquisition of a critical culture and social practices that allow students and others to view society with an analytical eye. Michael Katz summarizes how the ideal of using critical thinking to develop an educated citizenry might be used to shape school policy. He argues:
First, is would provide a general basis for determining whether schooling policy and practice is seriously taking account of the value of critical thinking. The environments of schools characterized by a commitment to


Education Under Siege
this value would be alive with the spirit of critical dialogue between teachers and students and among the students themselves. Various and diverse forms of intellectual inquiry, moreover, would be evident. Students in this environment would expect to receive serious and constructive intellectual criticism on their work so that they would be able to internalize the standards for making reasoned intellectual appraisals of their own thinking and that of other people. On the other hand, schools that clearly did not take the value of critical thinking seriously might be ones that were dominated by rote memorization, routine drill, and passive, unquestioning acceptance of everything said by the teachers or written in the textbooks. Such schools would discourage students from questioning their teachers and expressing divergent views.15

Underlying this form of alternative public philosophy is a view at odds with the notion that schools should merely promote industrial needs and public sector interests. Pedagogy for training in the limited economic and technical sense does not constitute the basis for the discourse of freedom. The dominant public philosophy, with its economic model of reason and its celebration of privatized sensibilities, not only presents a limited view of learning but also represents a threat to all forms of discourse that take seriously the politics of possibility. If the crisis in schooling is to be addressed adequately, we will need to construct a public philosophy that points to new approaches for the education of existing and future teachers. At the core of such an approach would be a commitment to developing forms of knowledge, pedagogy, evaluation, and research that promote critical literacy and civic courage. From this starting point federal education policy would use its financial and political resources to promote absolute commitment to public schools as sites of learning, of social interaction, and of human emancipation. Within this theoretical context can be developed policy recommendations that encourage research and education that view teachers as intellectuals and moral leaders rather than mere technicians; students as critical thinkers and active citizens rather than simply future participants in the industrial-military order; and schools as centers of critical literacy and civic courage rather than merely training sites for occupational positions in the corporate order.

1. See, for instance, The National Commission on Excellence in Education, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Education, 1983); Task Force on Education for Economic Growth, Action for Excellence: A Comprehensive Plan to Improve our Nation’s Schools

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(Denver Education Commission of the States, 1983); The College Entrance Examination Board, Academic Preparation for College (New York: College Entrance Examination Board, 1983); Twentieth Century Fund Task Force on Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Policy, Making the Grade (New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1983); Carnegie Corporation of New York, Education and Economic Progress: Toward a National Educational Policy (New York: Carnegie Corp., 1983). 2. The notion of “new” public philosophy as it is used in this chapter comes from the work of Sheldon S.Wolin; see his “The New Public Philosophy,” Democracy 1 (1981), pp. 23–26. Another excellent source is James M.Giarelli, “Education and Democratic Citizenship: Toward a New Public Philosophy”, paper presented at the National Council for Social Studies Annual Meeting, Boston, Nov. 24, 1982. Representative examples of the “new” public philosophy are found throughout the October 1983 issue of Educational Leadership and in the September 1983 issue of Phi Delta Kappan. One problematic aspect of the new public philosophy is its indifference to alternative views of schooling. This can be seen in the views of one of its major spokespersons, Chester Finn, when he writes: “I am hardpressed to imagine how anyone could disagree [italic in original] with the Excellence Commission’s curriculum recommendations or, for that matter, with the commission’s other diagnoses, proposals, and suggestions,” in “How Could Anyone Disagree?” Educational Leadership 41 (1983), p. 28. For one of the most cogent disagreements with the National Commission on Excellence in Education findings see the report, Our Children at Risk: An Inquiry into the Current Reality of American Public Education (New York: National Coalition of Advocates for Students, 1983). A more general critique of the new public philosophy is found in Education For a Democratic Future (St. Louis, Mo.: Public Information Network, 1985); a critique of England’s version of the new public philosophy is found in Ann Marie Wolpe and James Donald, eds., Is There Anyone Here From Education: Education After Thatcher (London: Pluto Press, 1983). 3. The National Commission on Excellence in Education, p. 7; Task Force on Education for Economic Growth, p. 32. 4. Statement of Casteen in press release of the Education Commission of the States Task Force on Education for Economic Growth, Washington, D.C., May 12, 1983. 5. An analysis of this issue is found in Stanley Aronowitz, Working Class Hero: A New Strategy for Labor (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1983); Manual Castells, The Economic Crisis and American Society (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1980); and Paul Weckstein, “Democratic Economic Development is the Key to Future Quality Education,” Phi Delta Kappan 64 (1983), pp. 420–423. 6. Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on occupations producing the most new jobs appeared in William Serrin, “High Tech Is No Jobs Panacea, Experts Say,” New York Times, Sept. 18, 1983, p. 1, p. 28. 7. Weckstein, p. 420. 8. Robert B.Everhart, “Introduction,” in The Public School Monopoly, ed.


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Robert B.Everhart (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Press, 1982), p. 3. For an excellent extended analysis of this issue, see W.Norton Grubb and Marvin Lazerson, Broken Promises: How Americans Fail Their Children (New York: Basic Books, 1982). 9. The ideology of technocratic rationality and the importance of oppositional public spheres is discussed at great length in Henry A.Giroux, Theory and Resistance: A Pedagogy for the Opposition (South Hadley, Mass.: Bergin & Garvey, 1983). 10. Michael Katz, “Critical Literacy: A Conception of Education as a Moral Right and Social Ideal,” in The Public School Monopoly, p. 209. 11. Recent eloquent expressions of this position include Katz; James M. Giarelli, “The Public, the State, and the Civic Education of Teachers” and Michael W.Apple, “Politicizing ‘Civic Values’ in Education,” both in Civic Learning in Teacher Education, ed. Ayers Bagley (Minneapolis, Minn.: Society of Professors of Education Monograph Series, 1983); and Jonathan Kozol, Prisoners of Silence: Breaking the Bonds of Adult Illiteracy in the United States (New York: Continuum, 1980). 12. A glaring example of this is found in Harold L.Hodgkinson’s argument that the higher education community needs to take seriously the possibility for minority youth to go to some form of higher education. The rationale for such a concern is based on what he calls sheer middle class self-interest, as illustrated in his comment: “The dependency of middle-class white Americans on the success of minorities in school and at work is just beginning. Ninety percent of the work force in 1990 is already at work today, and close to half of the remainder will be minorities. Retiring white workers will find themselves increasingly dependent on a work force heavily composed of minorities to pay their Social Security trust funds [italics added],” in “College Students in the 1990s: A Demographic Portrait,” Education Digest 48 (Nov. 1983), p. 29. 13. A cogent discussion of these issues is found in Ralph Miliband, “State Power and Class Interest,” New Left Review 138 (1983), pp. 57–68; Joel Spring, “The Evolving Political Structure of American Schooling,” in The Public School Monopoly, pp. 77–105; George Armstrong Kelly, “Who Needs a Theory of Citizenship,” Daedalus 108 (Fall 1979), pp. 21–36. 14. This position is further outlined in Arthur Wise, Legislated Learning (Berkeley, Calif.: Univ. of California Press, 1979), pp. 203–212. A variety of ideological positions on this issue are found in “Rethinking the Federal Role in Education,” a special issue of the Harvard Educational Review 52 (1982), pp. 371–593. 15. Katz, in The Public School Monopoly, p. 209; see also Harvey Siegel, “Critical Thinking as an Educational Ideal,” Educational Forum 45 (1980), pp. 7–23.

parents and the public. We will conclude by briefly summarizing some of the elements of a critical educational theory that need to be addressed in the future. and the reasons for the success of neo-conservative educational policy and the “authoritarian populism” upon which it has been able to construct a broad national consensus.1 The second centers on the failure of radical educators to match neo-conservative politics with a corresponding set of visions and strategies. we have argued the need to assess the failures of left educational thinking in the past decade. and real hope for those who wish to take the issue of educational struggle and social justice seriously in the future. The first is apparent in the rise of the new right and its economic and ideological attacks on the schools. Both aspects of the crisis have been discussed in this book. they view schools within the narrow parameters of human capital theory. it faces a dual crisis in public education. as we mentioned in the last chapter and as the recent spate of commission reports illustrate. On the contrary. The most obvious aspect of the crisis in public education and the response it is engendering from neo-conservatives is in the discourse they use to describe the role schools should play in American society. they have successfully imposed their ideology on school administrators. 209 . But for such hopes to become realizable. and how it has challenged some of the basic assumptions of radical educational theory.ELEVEN Schooling and the Future: Revitalizing Public Education AS THE UNITED States moves into the twenty-first century. For the most part. They no longer celebrate schools as democratizing institutions. conservatives argue that the traditional arm’s length relationship between schools and business be dismantled for the purpose of overhauling schools in order to align them more closely with short and long term business and corporate interests. desires.3 Simply stated.2 We believe that both crises offer critical educators the opportunity to rethink the nature and purpose of public education and to raise ambitions. We will first analyze the nature and ideology of neo-conservative discourse on public education.

In other words. As the primary unit of society. the upper classes. and religion. the nuclear family is celebrated as locus of civilization. an important strain of neoconservative discourse examines a whole range of issues related to the nature of the current economic and moral crisis as they define it. the family is seen as a “natural” entity that is “God given” and allegedly exists beyond the bounds of history. it combines two aspects of conservative philosophy so as to add a powerful element of popular cultural appeal to its theoretical discourse. and personal effort and reward. In diverse ways. patriarchal authority. because it fails to comprehend the popularity of neoconservative discourse on public education as part of both a struggle and response to a political and ideological crisis the nation currently faces. these aspects of traditional conservative philosophy are combined successfully with the tenets of classical liberalism. Moreover. neo-conservatives have not appeared out of thin air. At issue here is the paradox of how groups that so blatantly favor the rich. it embraces elements of community and localism in its support of the family. it also takes a strong position on important educational issues such as standards. values. and the logic of unbridled individualism can so effectively mobilize the needs and desires of subordinate and oppressed groups such as the working classes. comes at a specific historical conjuncture in the United States. for example.210 Education Under Siege The turn towards public education as a citadel of corporate ideology. with its stress on individualism. neo-conservatives seem to make convincing sense to an American public that is both worried and intimidated by the changes the country has gone through since the 1960s. and school discipline. In this case. it is appealed to as a moral and political referent from which to mobilize and wage a constant struggle against its ‘enemies. In mobilizing existing public discontent. Around the pro-family issue.’ and—like the ‘profamily coalition’—is used to draw together a wide range of distinct issues and to . community and social control. For many. And in doing so they have realigned and reshaped the political nature of their discourse and the ideological configurations that inform it. Neo-conservative discourse about public schooling not only taps into a wide range of discontents. of course. this conjuncture is both characterized and understood as an expression of the capitalist economic recession. and how it can be challenged. competition. Similarly. they are part of a varied set of historical traditions that have congealed into a particular political and ideological force at this time in history. This explanation is only partly true.’ Allen Hunter is worth quoting on this issue: A great many issues are…combined in the defense of the family. Defined as the center of morality and order. In this way family imagery acts as a ‘condensation symbol.

In one sense. Enemies are lumped together too. absenteeism. but it does so in a way that represents “them within a logic or discourse which pulls them systematically into line with policies and class strategies of the right. function to exclude them from participating in vital issues which affect their experiences on a daily level. many people have expressed an ambivalence about public education that neo-conservatives have capitalized on and redefined in their own interests. What is interesting about neo-conservative ideology is that it takes seriously the way in which the state and other institutions. and a melange of other phenomena. while simultaneously eroding the economic well-being and spiritual and patriarchal privacy necessary to maintain family life.”5 In capitalizing upon popular sentiments and discontents. Neo-conservative ideology has been politically adroit in addressing these concerns. in many respects working class people and others respond positively to antistatist ideologies because they encounter state policy and social practices less as a beneficiary than as a demeaning and powerful bureaucratic imposition into their lives. contraception. For many people. falling “standards. While. Needless to say. popular concern has shifted from the traditional emphasis on gaining access to public education to a concern for shaping and controlling school policy. homosexuals. at first glance. In contrast. liberal divorce laws. because of the many problems plaguing schools systems. whether they be school violence. liberty and freedom are linked to the ability of individuals to cast their fate to the competitive dynamics of the marketplace. youth culture and drugs. On the other hand. either intrude into people’s lives or. black music. are all assimilated to a common feature: they are destructive of the family. neoconservative discourse has conveniently argued for educational policies . In this case. the ideology of militant individualism may appear to be at odds with neo-conservative support of the family and community. and along with it the society. abortion. through the arrogance of administrative policy. public education has represented one of the few possibilities for social and economic mobility. Feminists.” or the shrinking of economic resources. pornography. it is actually displaced to another sphere of society in that it is used as an ideological prop to wage an attack against the state and other forms of bureaucratic intervention.Revitalizing Public Education give them a positive image. schools occupy an important but paradoxical place between their daily experiences and their dreams of the future. On the other hand. including schools. the notions of mobility. it is argued that state and government intervention block this possibility and in doing so undermine the virtues of hard work and self-sufficiency.4 211 Neo-conservative discourse also fuels its celebration of the family with the ideology of individualism. liberal educators.

rather than confronting the inequalities and real failures of public education. and strongly conservative values. and cultural processes that structure American society. the ideology underlying the Reaganite position strongly celebrates the free enterprise logic of consumer choice and economic selfsufficiency.6 In this case the attack on public education is buttressed by a discriminatory policy against women. within this discourse there is no room for viewing schools as public places where students and others can learn and practice the skills for democratic participation necessary for a critical understanding of the wider political. private interests. views public education within a model of reason that celebrates narrow economic concerns. In other words. In addition. neo-conservative policy. neo-conservatives strongly support voluntary work to be done by mothers in the face of cuts among the ranks of teachers and ancillary staff. That is.212 Education Under Siege that promote traditional values and conservative forms of authority and discipline. what is being systematically rejected in this proposal is any commitment to defending schools as sites that have a fundamental connection to the idea of civic courage and human emancipation. Consequently. social. as neo-conservative policy promotes cutbacks in financial aid to public schools along with other forms of social service. the organizing ethos that structures this position is based on the dubious policy of giving the public a choice between public and private forms of education. For instance. neo-conservatives have argued that moral regulation should become a central dimension of the curriculum. This becomes evident with right-wing arguments for the inclusion of religious practices. What this all adds up to is starkly revealed in the way neo-conservative ideology separates public education from the discourse of selfempowerment and collective freedom. and class inequalities. and a renewed involvement in forms of schooling that display an instrumental enterprise in developing curricula that enshrine goals and values that support the ideology of business pragmatism. Rather than denying the role of schools in promoting values. the banning of subversive books and areas of study. gender. whom it argues belong in the home. principles heavily weighted in favor of those groups who exercise an inordinate amount of power and influence in a society characterized by deep racial. Furthermore. It is instructive to note that the neo-conservative discourse currently dominating the debate on education in the United States has partly strengthened its position by linking the crises in everyday life with the . The principles being espoused here are selfinterest and individual mobility. it creates a new labor force of unpaid women. At the same time. school curriculum has become a major focus of popular contestation and a site for a kind of competitive struggle. such as that espoused by the Reagan administration.

It is clear. radical accounts of schooling have focused too heavily on critiques of schooling. For the last decade. the notion of social control became synonymous with the exercise of domination in schools. power in these accounts has often been defined primarily as a negative force that works in the interest of domination. the one-sided nature of radical educational theory is evident in the way in which it has treated the notions of power. Consequently. freedom became synonymous with demystifying and eliminating the ideological and material restraints imposed by schools so students could discover their real abilities and possibilities for learning. Treated as an instance of negation. As we stressed in chapter seven. What is lost in this account is the understanding that education always functions in complex ways: either a positive or negative force to produce the very conditions under which individuality is . and the question of how schools could become the site for the production of new forms of opposing knowledge and social practices was largely ignored. In our view. radical educational criticism has for too long focused on either the question of who has access to public education or on providing often despairing accounts of how schools reproduce through the overt and hidden curricula the varied inequalities that characterize the dominant society. We believe that this says less about the credibility of neo-conservative ideology than it does about the theoretical failure of radical educators to take seriously the social and historical particularities of people’s lives. What is particularly interesting here is that conservative coalitions have been able to intervene into popular concerns about schooling around a number of ideological issues in a way that has rendered radical educators almost invisible in the current debate. for example. they have often fallen far short of what is theoretically needed to develop a more comprehensive and critical theory of schooling. while failing to provide the more difficult theoretical task of laying the groundwork for alternative modes of educational theory and practice. Thus. freedom is defined as the absence of control and the student is presented as the embodiment of an individuality that has to mature as part of a natural developmental process. that there has been a fundamental confusion around what constituted freedom within the discourse of radical pedagogy. and popular struggle. social control. power took on the characteristic of a contaminating force that left the imprint of either domination or powerlessness on whatever it touched.Revitalizing Public Education 213 failures of public education. It is important to re-emphasize that although these educators have provided important insights into how schools work. In other words. In other words. authority and academic standards are representative of coercive impositions that limited the development of the natural emotional and intellectual abilities of students. This point is best seen in the underlying assumption in most radical pedagogy that school discipline.

and philosophy as core languages that put students in touch with the history of western civilization. Freedom is not removed from power. classroom relations. Like many of his colleagues. Neglected in this case were questions such as what constituted critical knowledge. It is also an historical expression of both past struggles over what constituted political and cultural authority. Similarly. Valeric Walkerdine cogently makes this point in her claim that “what educators need to understand is how that condition which we call individuality is formed within apparatuses of social regulation. to those dimensions of schooling that reached deep into the concerns of everyday experience. radical educational theorists gave little attention to the positive side of school life.”7 Radical educational theory provided many insightful criticisms about the socially constructed nature of the school curriculum. Leon Trotsky advocated a curriculum that would ask students to appropriate the literary and philosophical traditions of bourgeois culture. and hierarchically organized bodies of school knowledge. standards. we have the rich traditions of progressive education and some strains in European Marxism to draw upon for an alternative that addresses curriculum quality. the history of the labor movement in this country and in Europe are replete with examples of workers education . Greek. including education. it is linked directly to the issue of how it both informs and emerges from those daily conditions in schools that help to produce students who are critically literate and socially responsible. or from the issues of authority. and discipline within schools.214 Education Under Siege constituted. or how language and culture should be developed as part of a critical pedagogy.” Its mere repetition constitutes a code signifying that only conservatives can offer a language of possibility. in the early days of the Bolshevik Revolution. That is. and the forms of ethical. Recall that Gramsci called for broad scale mastery of language as a foundation for personal and social autonomy and specified that he meant Latin. Chester Finn has virtually nothing concrete to say about the content of the slogan “excellence. i. what was ignored was the fundamental issue of how to create a language of possibility that would provide the basis for developing a positive notion of social control and responsibility from which to build and defend radical conceptions of school organization. In this connection.. Finally. school curriculum is not simply a social construction. we need only consult the example cited in the first chapter of the shameful appropriation by conservative educators of the issue of educational quality. but at the same time it failed to take seriously what was implied in such a judgment. More specifically. and moral regulation implied in specific forms of school authority. On the other hand.e. intellectual. With few exceptions. In fact.

but the point is not to learn a narrow skill which is likely to become obsolete in the near future. The American public philosophy has always disparaged rigor. courses in history. administration. We need to stress. To a large extent. once again. In the past. The United States does not require philosophy or broad language mastery in its secondary schools. Joseph Brodsky. we need only consult the new vocationalism that informs their search for excellence. wage bargaining and other practices of the trade unions. we contend that only a multifaceted education can enable students to achieve the autonomy and creativity that a democratic society needs. We do not deny that learning the skills associated with many occupations can contribute to serious learning. Unions have provided literacy for foreign born members. and when the official flags are raised for learning. educators must rescue the status of curriculum politics and production from its disparaged history. curriculum studies has been relegated to the margins of educational theory and practice while educational administration and psychology dominated the field. . that schools need to be seen as active sites of interventions and struggle. If there are any among the neoconservatives who would demand of schools what ruling classes once meant by education. But in order to take seriously the notion that schools contain possibilities for redefining the nature of critical learning and practice. or the labor movement during its insurgent years. only for providing human capital able to make American business viable once more in the world market. has identified as the predominance of “numbers” in our curriculum. Learning is a way to power and gratification. With Dewey we are persuaded that learning can take place through occupations. and control of knowledge subsumed the significance and importance of critical learning. schools were no longer analyzed within a discourse of possibility as much as they were relegated to the imperatives of systems management and the rigors of educational testing and selection. radicals should clap their hands. but neo-conservatives have no program for empowerment. they have assisted members to acquire new skills required by the job market. and philosophy and.” Just as Sputnik generated our last educational renaissance.Revitalizing Public Education 215 efforts that went far beyond the confines of grievances. the management. But lest we believe that conservatives mean to genuinely upgrade our schools. literature. computer “literacy” has replaced the traditional demand for intellectual mastery and this reflects a trend that the poet. so the Japanese talent for inexpensive cars and electronic gadgets have spurred our new concern. in recent times. Similarly. this move generally reflects a sense of urgency brought on by a new “crisis. Under these circumstances.

curriculum can no longer be considered of secondary interest. which in the insights provided by Gramsci. But for curriculum theory and practice to become the center of school life. As used in this context. Connected to this notion of social control is the need for radical educators to take seriously the relationship between schooling and. Dewey. and Freire point to schools as public spheres dedicated to forms of learning that promote critical citizenship. The teacher’s job was to transmit this culture to students in the hope that it would offset those cultural forms reproduced on the terrains of popular culture and subordinate class experience. the construct of social control provides the theoretical starting point upon which to establish the conditions for critical learning and practice. That is. providing them with the skills that are basic for analysis and leadership in the modern world. Similarly. But we use the notion of social control in a way that speaks also to something more fundamental. as something that works both on and through people. cultural power. the notion of power that underscores this position begins with the assumption that if social control is to serve the interests of freedom it must function so as to empower teachers and students. its mode of operation as both enabling and constraining. of providing the context and conditions for the development of emancipatory forms of schooling. social control speaks to the forms of practice necessary for the demanding task of designing curricula that give students an active and critical voice. It is important to view social control as having both positive and negative possibilities. It must become the center of what schools are about. and training of organic intellectuals. It is important to stress here that a critical notion of social control cannot elude the tough issue of responsibility. the . Its character will have to be viewed as dialectical. civic courage. We link the notion of freedom to forms of social structure and discipline that would be essential in creating and ordering new criteria for the development of the principles needed to promote curricula which embody emancipatory interests. school culture has operated primarily within a logic that defends it as part of the fabric of high culture. Left educators countered this view of culture by arguing that high culture was itself developed out of the fabric of domination and mystification and as such had to be rejected. when linked to interests that promote selfand social empowerment. then the relationship between power and social control will have to be redefined. what we call. This view of power has significant implications for redefining the relationship between social control and schooling. Power will have to be viewed as both a negative and positive force. Traditionally. As part of an oppositional educational task.216 Education Under Siege In our view. and sites for learning about the principles of critical literacy and democracy.

It would be developed around knowledge forms that challenge and critically appropriate dominant ideologies. it would begin with popular experiences so as to make them meaningful in order to engage them critically. The key notion here was that radical educators had to work with the experience of oppressed groups. As radical educators begin thinking about pedagogical strategies for the future. “to work on them” meant not just to confirm subordinate cultural experiences. In other words. On the contrary. A critical pedagogy. He writes: It is the skills which are basic. Thus. it failed to take seriously the need to not only work with subordinate cultures. the modern world. Similarly.Revitalizing Public Education 217 culture of oppressed groups had to be rescued and re-presented so as to offset the worst dimensions of dominant culture. to a class which means to lead. blacks. it would stress forms of learning and knowledge aimed at providing a critical understanding of how social reality works. it would focus on how certain dimensions of such a reality are sustained. at whatever level it is possible to teach them. rather than simply rejecting them outright. it would also take the historical and social particularities of students’ experiences as a starting point for developing a critical classroom pedagogy. it failed to develop curricula forms for dealing with both dominant and subordinate cultures. women. As insightful as this concept was in both criticizing dominant culture and giving a voice to subordinate cultures (the working class. and it would also focus on how those aspects of it that are related to the logic of domination can be changed. then. now. it has to become a referent for examining what students and others need to learn outside of their own experiences. They are the basic. it would focus on the nature of its formative processes. if the notion of cultural power is to provide the theoretical basis for forms of critical pedagogy. not simply to serve. they . of concepts and ideas and principles rather than of specific and outdated ‘contents. etc. this approach to critical pedagogy would be based on a dialectical notion of what counts as really useful knowledge and school practice in the building of an emancipatory curriculum. This points to the need to redefine the role of knowledge within the contexts of cultural and curriculum studies.8 Similarly. general skills of analysis and conceptualization.). Stuart Hall provides a more specific idea of the kind of skills this type of critical pedagogy would involve. but also to interrogate them critically so as to recover their strengths as well as weaknesses.’ of abstraction and generalization and categorization. but also to work on them. that is. would focus on the study of curriculum not merely as a matter of self-cultivation or the mimicry of specific forms of language and knowledge.

one that is matched. And. Underlying such a struggle is a ringing call to take seriously the lives of our children. whether they be of the critical or accommodating type. school culture. such a vision is all the more difficult since American progressivism has lost its bearing since the end of the sixties. but. and others to struggle and take risks. and building upon them the democratic possibilities inherent both in schools and in the visions that guide our actions. and really useful knowledge. to future generations. but the stakes are too high to ignore such a challenge. we believe that politics is pedagogical activity. The nature of such a task may seem impossible at times. And yet. in part. what we have advocated is a political and pedagogical movement that speaks to life. . Like Freire and Gramsci. at the same time. as we have stressed throughout this book. For one thing. However those who refuse to act as if there were no possibilities remain doomed to reproduce themselves as isolated intellectuals. it means reworking them. the American left has been primarily read out of the dominant political discourse for the first time in this century. by the willingness of educators. In this sense. parents. We also want to stress that the anchoring of transformative intellectuals in ongoing political organizations and oppositional public spheres that are part of the discourse about power has become increasingly difficult. This means redefining the notion of power. Such a task does not mean debunking existing forms of schooling and educational theory. is all the more important to fight for. So the call for transformative intellectuals and the development of democratic public spheres takes on the appearance of a utopian demand. contesting the terrains on which they develop. Of course. What we have suggested in this concluding chapter points to the need to infuse educational theory and practice with a vision of the future. What organizations do exist on the left are in extreme disarray. but such a politics needs more than the discourse of critique. because of the offensive by neo-conservatives and the crisis of the world left. hopefully. we admit with Ernst Bloch and others that without a vision of the future there is no possibility for collective transformation in the present. it also needs the discourse of possibility.218 Education Under Siege will have to develop some clarity about what kind of curriculum is needed to build a critical socialist democracy. to the extent that our pedagogy is self-critical and self-conscious we engage in politics. it is a call that chooses life and takes as its first principle the value and possibilities inherent in human struggles.

“Moving Right. “Nice Girls Say No. 63–76.” Socialist Review 11 (January–February. Miriam David. See also the insightful remarks of Charles A.” New Internationalist (March 1984). pp.” in Is There Anyone Here From Education?. “Education in Crisis.” Educational Studies 15 (Spring 1984). . 7. pp. p. 6.Tesconi. Jr. 128. 5. “It’s Only Natural: Rethinking Child-Centered Pedagogy. p. For a detailed analysis of this issue. 1–10.” Journal of Education 166 (March 1984). 1982). “Additive Reform and the Retreat from Purpose.” in op. 4.” Radical America 15 (1981). p. Ed. Stuart Hall.Revitalizing Public Education 219 NOTES 1. 8. 6.A. p. Valeric Walkerdine. See our detailed critical analyses of the limits of Marxist discourse on radical educational theory in chapter six. 1983).. “In the Wings: New Right Ideology and Organization. 2. 87. 129.S.. Stuart Hall. p. Ann Marie Wolpe and James Donald (London: Pluto Press. “Teaching and Preaching Sexual Morality: The New Right’s AntiFeminism in Britain and the U. 26. 3.. Allen Hunter. cit. see chapter nine in this book.


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Louis. 170. 90–91 Class consciousness. social reproduction of. Samuel. Ernst. 197. 26 Benjamin. 92–93 Aronowitz. 170. 187. 167–68 Automation. 27 Baudelot. 203. 29 City University of New York. hierarchy in. 3 Bowles. 13. literacy of students entering. Gramsci on. 57–60. Baudelot and Establet on. 77. 149 California State University. 218 Bourdieu. 186. 119 Classroom social relations. Mannheim on. Joseph. 124 227 Brenkman. 168. Harry. 125. 173–74. on positivism. 38. 62 Alternative education movement. 98 Althusser. 175 American Economic Association. 163. Jean. 117–22. in schools. social reproduction of. 125. 108. 3 Civil society. Michael. 179–82. 15. Gramsci on. 114n Colleges and universities: conservative attacks on. dissidents and Marxists at. See also Minorities Bloch. language of. 63 Bates. 149–50. 62. Jean. 74–76. 95. Richard. 153 Carnegie Foundation. See also Technology Back-to-basics movement. 78. 17. 192 Carlson. state power and. Jean Lind-. 18 Attendance: in colleges and universities. unemployment among. 177–78. 163 Bowker. in schools. hegemony by. 152– 53. 61. 127 American Association of University Professors (AAUP). 215 Business. on curriculum materials. 88–92 Career days. 150. William. open admissions in. Lukacs on. 189. 129. Dennis.. 176–79. Carol. classroom social relations and. 151 Brodsky. 79–87. 152–54 Cohen. open admissions for. on funding for educational research. in Marxist theory. 147. on domination of nature. 77–78 Behaviorism. John. in reconstructed Marxist theory. as 227 . 126. 28. 172–73. 69– 70. 89 Class: absent from new public philosophy. 70. in reproduction theory. 74–75. 119–22. labor market and. 130 Affirmative action. economic crisis and. 172. 146. 88. 123– 26. in schools. 175 Anyon. 170–71. 126 Blacks. intellectuals outside of. 63. 146 Brain. crisis in. knowledge based in culture of. Bourdieu on. 88. 60. 80–87. state and. 139. 202. Pierre. 14. 170. 165. 58 Artificial intelligence. 3. end of affirmative action and open admissions in. 199 Casteen. Christian. academic choices of. 187 Adorno. polarization of. absences and. 174– 75. 48. W. Theodor. increased and changed enrollments at. 39 Adams. 150.Index Accommodating intellectuals. 25 American Federation of Teachers (AFT). 75–78. James Truslow. school culture and. 17–18 Braverman. 175 Capitalism: in correspondence theory. involuntary. 209 Buswell. faculty tenure and recruitment at. Stanley. 87–88. 188–89 Authority. 200 Chicago school system. on cultural capital. 152–53 Apple.

Marxist. unionization at. 195–96. of working class. 212. 193 Curriculum materials. 186. 146 Cultural model of reproduction theory. 37–39 Critical literacy. resistance theory and. language of possibility for. 190. 117–22 Cross. school. 8. 154–61. 198. critique of. Robert. 152– 54. failure of radicals to match ideology of. social reproduction of. 166. 60. 214. in reconstructed Marxist theory. 113n Credentials. 108. teaching of. 119 Curriculum: critical. 76–77. 147–48. 70. 216– 17. John. ignored by radicals and progressives. 215. 85 Consciousness: Althusser on. 11 Division of labor. alternative schools attacked by. Gilles. 163. 27. See also Neoconservatives Corporations. 98 Ecological movement. 52–54 Collins. teacher education in. crisis in higher education and ideology of. Mary. 172–73. in resistance theory. 57–58 Dewey. crisis in. 7. forecasting by. 135–36.Patricia. 164. 130 Drop cuts. in critical literacy. K.228 Education Under Siege public sphere. 163–66. 123–26 Economists. 80–82. 85. 140. theories on knowledge forms in. in critical pedagogy. 74–77 Corrigan. 171–73. 28. 216–17 Cultural production. writing taught at. 215–18 Curriculum theory. 143–49. educational reform attacked by. George. 133. David. 66. in left . 151–52. on education by experience. new sociology of education on. 121–22. technology in. 163 Columbia School. 50. textbooks and materials used in. ideology in. Freire and. 96. 156–57. 175–76. crisis in higher education and. theories of classroom social relations in. oppositional. 129 Economic model of reproduction theory. liberal arts. 19. 149–51 Dale. 9–10. theories of knowledge content in. 160 Douglas. “hidden. new sociology of education on. 14–17. Philip. 160 Cultural power. state intervention in. knowledge based in. Randall. in cultural model of reproduction theory. 168–70 Cremin. 171–73. 209. 79–87 Cultural politics. Roger. attacks on higher education by. Lawrence. 85 Deleuze. 149–52 Curriculum studies. 86–87. 105 Conservatives. on educational quality. school. on citizenship education. 139. on corporate interests in schools. 134 Composition. 58–59. 170 Community control. 131. 77. 3 Community groups. 108. 74–79 Economism: in Marxist theory. 161 Culture: Baudelot and Establet on. 30 Cultural capital. 117–22. in resistance theory. 94. 139. on vocational education. 29. 61. 72.” 61. 63. 139–43. as site of struggle. 93. 150–51. 152. 166. 180–81. 192–93. 52–54 Computers. 156. 84–86. 75. language of critique and. 63. 12. transformative intellectuals in. 133. 174–75. 40–41. 159. credentials as. 81– 82. 153. “relevance” in. 98. 76. at Park East High School. 155–56. curriculum and. 185–88. 200. 132–34 Critical Marxist theory. 139–40. 190–93 Connell. 200. xi. military model and. power and. 97–99. 25. 19 Dennison. x. resistance theory on. x Critical intellectuals. organizations. 139. displaced in liberal arts. 7 Community colleges. 142–43. 95. 186. 177 Economy: absent from Bourdieu’s analysis. 209 Correspondence theory. 91. 1–5. Frankfurt School on. 93 Davies.

120. 100–1 Hegemony. 2–3. class and. Bourdieu on. 124. 77. 86. of women. Jürgen. 74–95. Felix. reproduction theory. new sociology of education on. Gramsci on. 196 Experimental schools. 168 Empiricism. international. on mass culture. 103. 129 Gender: resistance theory and. Herbert. in education. 85. 180. 57–60. 213– 14. 34–35. in reconstituted Marxism. on domination by state. 19. psychological implications of. 214 Foster. 125– 26. state and. 13–14. 88. 8.. Marxist critique of. 186. 190. 74–76. theory and practice in. 211. on domination of nature. 144–45. open admissions for. on mass culture. 152. radical. of individualism. 39 Hegemonic-state model of reproduction theory. as lived experience. 101–2. 98 Family. 10–13. Baudelot and Establet on. Michel. Michelle. Harold L. 39. 10. See Labor market English departments. citizenship education and. 8. 92–93 Educational theory: impact of Marxist theory on. 93–94. 173. Althusser on. reproduced in . neo-conservatives on.Index education and job mobility in. Gramsci on. Lee. Mannheim on. 49 Employers. 153 Higher education. Roger. classroom social relations and. 167. 62. Poulantzas on. 170 History. 4–5. radical. Gramsci on. 77–78 Experience. resistance theory and. See also State Gramsci. 71–73. 91–92 Education. Richard. 60 Hispanics. 82–83 Habitus (embodied history. 131–36. class consciousness and. 87–95. Bourdieu’s concept). 155 Frankfurt School. Chester. 118– 19. 85. 75. on consumer society. 125–26. Stuart.. 186 Employment. 82–84. 203–4. 76. 125 Hidden curriculum. 14. 200. and working class. Dewey on. in reconstituted Marxism. See Colleges and universities Hirsch. Lukacs on. in reconstructed Marxism. 168 Freire. 61 Iacocca. 174 Establet. 119–22. 6. See also Women Gintis. 10. Max. 134 Educational research. schools and. 210–11 Hyperkineticism. Shoshana. of back-to-basics movement. 122 Humanities. 63– 64. 171–72. as social theory. 159 Feminism. 32–33. reconstructed Marxism and. tied to economic expansion. 119. 208n Hofstadter. 196 Educators. 47. 207n. 82–84. 66. 167. 88– 90. in educational theory. Bourdieu’s concept). 66. resistance theory. on 229 knowledge. labor force for. 177–78 Equality. E. William. 129 Fiber optics. 4. minorities. conservatives on. x Ideology: of accommodating intellectuals. 57. 211. 147–48. Antonio. 89. 180–81. 115. 146. 76– 77. Paulo. 9 Habitat (objectified history. 11–13. 19 Habermas. 38. 98 Finn. 47. 38. crisis in higher education and. 39. 195–98. Allen. 27 Foucault. 132 Educational reform. 168 Habit: Dewey on. 83. 177 Hodgkinson. See Teachers Embodied history (habitus. 217 Hegemonic intellectuals. 146 Government. 119. on public sphere. 193 Fine. definition of. 33 Horkheimer. 70. 174 Hunter. in new public philosophy. 88. 168 Hall. 214 Guattari. Bourdieu’s concept). 210–11 Felman. 78. 96– 104. in Marxist theory.D. conservative. neo-conservatives on. 156 Gay and lesbian movements. 32–33.

in conservative attacks on educational reforms. 94. scientific. R. on technological society. return to. theories of forms of. schools as training for. 196. Clark.. 201. 196 Intellectuals. 28. 192. B. 189–90 Liberal arts colleges. 115–16. language. 211 Instrumentalism. critical. of possibility. in technocratic education. 61. 120. in curriculum theory. 175. 13–16. 64–66. 137n Language: of blacks. 122. 151–52. 40– 43. 33 Jacoby. 81–82. Karl. 208n Kellner. Herb. computer mediated. Herbert. importance of class to. Angela. 60 Lacan. in critical pedagogy. 15. neoconservative. technology and. 171 Kliebard. 61 Immigrants. 165–66. 115. Henri. 26 Knowledge: class basis of. 169. 28–29 Mannheim. 40. 37–39. 190 Literacy. 158. in cultural model of reproduction theory. in state intervention in education. 170 Katims. 132. in cultural model of reproduction theory. 205–6. jobs and. Marxist. 217. 63. 126–27 Kerr. Marxist conception of. 143–49. new sociology of education on. 65 Lukacs. technicalization of curriculum and. 119. 180. 170. Dewey on. revival of interest in. Michael. credentializing. Jonathan. 190. 98.. Douglas. 95 Learning: Bourdieu on. accommodating. 44n Junior colleges. power and. in state ideology. 217 Intelligence. 62–63. 94 Ignorance. credentials for. 120 MacKinnon. ideological argument for. 64. 159. 60. 48. hegemonic. 217. transformative. in critical pedagogy. 65. 97. school attendance and. William. role of state in. 123. 144–46. 149– 51. voluntarist ideology of. 195 Individualism. social context of. attacks on. forced. 159 Illiteracy. in state intervention in education. 187 Labov.. on social reproduction.J. 193–94.230 Education Under Siege Labor market: computer-related jobs in. during next ten years. 177 higher education. 135–36 Liberal arts. 65 Law. 93–94. classroom social relations and. 119. 168. 157–58 Kohl. 152–53. 164. E. 142. useful. 30–36. 7 Liberals: on state neutrality. 60. conceptual. 170–73 Liberal humanism. 39. decline in education in. on resistance. critical. 83. in critical literacy. 63 . Georg. 36–37. 187–88. 16. 117–18. 100 Management pedagogies. 13 Left public sphere. theories of content of. in attacks on alternative schools. 154–61. in resistance theory. 94. 105. 185. 57–58 Labor: computerization and. 171–72. for international economy. Catharine. of critique. M. 175. social relations bound into. women in. 47. Richard. 135.. Jacques. 188–89. 48. 50–51 Lefebvre. 38. in experiencebased pedagogy. 89. operational approach to. legitimated by state. state and power in. 132–34. See Labor market Johnson. 191. 157 Jones. 69 Marxism. 92. ignorance and. 118 McRobbie. on domination by state. 16. 159 Laclau. 160–61. 141. 108. 33 Kozol. 171– 73. Karl. 44n Katz. 82. 39. on individual in late capitalism. Habermas on. 38 Marcuse. teachers as. 130 Jobs. Herbert. 167 Marx.

Park East High School in. credentials stressed for. 47–55. 156–57. Wayne. 142–43. 58. scientism. 124 Objectified history (habitat. 187 Military model of learning. cultural. 158 Political-economy model of reproduction theory. 42 . 131–36. 175. 35. 15. J. of transformative intellectuals. 191 Neo-Marxism. curriculum theory and. 48 Open admissions. 82–83 Ohmann. management pedagogy. reconstructed Marxism and. reconstructed. 102–3. 143–49. in technocratic education. 48 O’Neil. 167–68 Passeron. critical. 9. on state power in education. 38. 99. 196–97. experience-based. radical. in resistance theory. 182. 13. 129–30. 154. 98–99. 61 Personality. 60. of hegemonic intellectuals. 115–17. 166. See also Blacks Mouffe. 66 Media studies. 191. 102. empowerment for.Index Marxists: critique of education by. nature. 59. 39.. 3 Nicaragua. Habermas on epistemology of. decline in. 48. 124. conservative attacks on. 153. importance of class to. structuralfunctionalist. teachers’ strike of 1968 in. Bourdieu’s concept). 103–4 Philosophy departments. 62. resistance theory and. in proposals for educational reform. 217–18. in resistance theory. 94. Talcott. of critical intellectuals. 117–22. 58– 60 Parsons. 147 Pedagogy: classroom social relations and. 199. 28–29. 70–71 Marxist theory. See Resistance theory Papert. in state ideology. See also Conservatives Neo-liberal economic theory. open admissions pushed by. 178 Piccone. David. 36–37. 24. neo-liberal economic theory and. 200 National Education Association (NEA). citizenship education for. 16–17 Park East High School (New York). literacy of. 57. domination of people and. 53 Middle class. Seymour. C. class and economism in. on habit in education. cultural. 87. Frankfurt School and. 107–9. 174–75. 62. 175 National Task Force on Education for Economic Growth. 183n Oppositional behavior. 104. in reconstituted Marxism. 134. 131. 202. student. 169 National Commission on Excellence in Education. 33 Plato. 126–30 Mass culture. 186. 123. 128. 118. 3. 170.. 74 Political society. Gramsci on. on schooling. 200 Nature: in classical Marxism. 89–90. 129 Neo-conservatives. C. 199. Paul. of transformative intellectuals. Gramsci and. 27–28. on corporate interests in schools. 10–12. 64. 86. 89 Politics: of accommodating intellectuals. debate over intellectuals among. educational 231 reforms in. 156–57. 96–97 New left. 137n Movements. Silber’s attacks on. 4–5. high school absences in. working-class. 190 Mills. 195–98. 140–41. 175. Richard. 209–13. 61–62. 37. 123–26. 5– 7. 13 Minorities: in alternative schools. class and economism in.Wright. 39. in resistance theory. 170. 13–14 New York City: cultural-reproductive analysis of school in. 160–61. 36–37 Permissiveness. 61. 172. 65 Noble. class and. reconstructed. among intellectuals. new social movements and. in liberal arts.

204–6. knowledge and. resistance theory and. 139–40. theories of knowledge content in. in cultural model of reproduction theory. Derek. 12. 93–95 Power.F. 209. commissions on. radical educators on. 24–30 Psychology. 5–7. 16 Skinner. 40 Science. Bourdieu on. crises in. 141. John. 44n Sieber. 113n Scheffler. in Marxist theory. 123. 195–96. 96– 104. social reproduction in. 204 Reich. 86. Nicos. Ronald. 135–36. return to “basics” movement and. 167 Shannon. 93–94. Patrick. 209. 103–4 Public education: alternative public philosophy on. 183n Silva.. citizenship education in. 181. 168 Reproduction theory. hegemonic-state model. 216– 17. 105. 18 Positivism. 27–28. 13– 14. 96. 72–73. economic model. 194–95. 129. 188 Professional associations. 163–64. in curriculum theory. 130. new public philosophy on. 175. Herbert. new public philosophy on. definition of. See also Marxists Radical teachers. 174. 139. See also Blacks Racial movements. 197. 38. Hyman. 71–73. 168–69 Rickover. 213– 14. experimental. 25 Simon.Timothy. 95. 145–48. cultural model. tenure and. Dewey ignored by. 39 Sayer.. 121. in liberal arts. in correspondence theory. social reproduction of. Jean-Paul. 86 Silber. 216–17 Schooling. Foucault on.232 Education Under Siege Ramsey. 74–77. 100. 48. 177 Postman. 69–71. on social reproduction. 79–87. 139. reconstructed Marxist theory on. on cultural forms. in colleges and universities. 140. labor market and. 188–89 School culture. on public education. Bourdieu on. 146–49. Gramsci on. 100. 44n School attendance. 9–10. 101–2. 168. 202. in curriculum theory. resistance theory on. radical educational theory on. 127. Wilhelm. 81–82. in knowledge. 87–95. in technocratic education. 72–73. 197. 69–71. resistance theory and. 79–86. 129. 115. classical Marxist on. in economic model of reproduction theory. Freire on. 57–60 labor market training in. 176 Radicals: critique of. 209–13. B. stressed by state. Adorno on. 176 Sexuality. new sociology of education and. 57–58 Poulantzas. 92 Scientism. 77. transformative intellectuals in. on curriculum and school culture. 202–4. 126–28. 142. 19.T. failure to match neoconservative ideology by. 194 Professional workers. 216. 74. classroom social relations in. resistance theory and. cultural. 151–52 Resistance theory. 113n Reagan. 70 Productivity. 161 . state and. 167. 152–54. 185. 74–79. 92–95. 100. 126–30 Sexism. 69–71. 95–109. 30 Sartre. transformative intellectuals as. 131–36. 204–6. revival of Marxist theory among. state intervention in. 25 Progressive education movement. 213–18. 89. left public sphere created by. 199–204. Frankfurt School and new left. 167. E. 129 Racism. neoconservatives on. 61 Race: resistance theory and. Neil. 199. Israel. 154–55. absences and. 133. 213–18 Punishment. concentration of. Harvie. 40–42. 131–32 Schools: alternative public philosophy on. new sociology of education on. business ties to. 39. 7–8 Proletarianization of teachers. in economic model of reproduction theory. 200. 97. R. 88.

167. Joseph. 183n Work: classroom social relations and. neo-conservatives on. 142. 174–75. cultural politics of. proletarianization of. intervention in educational policy by. See Reproduction theory Social sciences. 217 Trotsky. 125. 214 Weber. 41 Writing. 142 Willis. 44n Wittgenstein. 51 233 Tenure. by teachers (New York. Kenneth M. 194 Unions. critical training of. 30–40. Max. 58–59. Frederick Jackson. 40– 43. empowerment for. 152– 53. social. 211 Staten Island College. reconstructed Marxism and. Paul. open admissions for. on self-formation. classroom social relations and. involvement in struggle by. 40. 5. 196–97. 122. See Colleges and universities Vocational education. 191 Social movements. 120.Index Slaughter. 159. 187. 160–61. 189. 108. 14– 16. 212. 11 Voluntarist ideology. training in.. 174–78 Textbooks. in Marxist theory. 195 Unemployment. labor market and. 17 White. 188. 213. 191–92. 158. as transformative intellectuals. Erik Olin. 155–56 Williams. 134–35. “new. in colleges and universities. 97–99. 161. Andrew. Jim. 23–24. 196. resistance by. 171 Television. in colleges and universities. in labor market. 87–95. 26 . resistance theory of. Raymond. Gramsci on. 102 Walkerdine. 131– 32. 66 Sullivan. 51.. 40–43 Technology: changes in curriculum and. 125. credentials for. Silber’s attacks on. 53–54 Strikes. in resistance theory. 166. 52–54. in hegemonic-state model of reproduction theory. culture of.. Doug. changes in jobs resulting from. teaching writing to. 163–64 Workers. curriculum materials and. 149–50. at colleges and universities. on reproduction theory. 168 Weizenbaum. 28. 167–68 Social time. 65 Winkler. 169. 100–2 Women’s movement. mass culture and. 65 Women. Michael. voicelessness of. 201. 48. 52–54 Young. 48–49. neo-conservative opposition to. 190 Wake. 25 Social control. on failure of student rebellion. Leon. 69–70. 63. 216 Socialization. 106. 25–26. revolts of 1960s by. 63. in proposals for educational reform. 16–19 Teachers: acts of “resistance” by. 16. New York strike of 1968 by. 174. 3 Student movements. 44n Walker. Edmund. 175–76 Universities. 160–61. Karen J. 3. 126 Transformative intellectuals. 170 Working class: in critical theory. radical. 155–56. 134. 71–72. 161. Ludwig. computers and. 190 Social theory. 129.” 144–48 State: Frankfurt School theorists on. literal thought by. 150–52 Time. 182 Students: Bourdieu on. 102. Valeric. of education. 168. 129–30 Social reproduction. 170. 158. credentials stressed for. 193–94. 168–69. S. decline in movements of. 152–53. in resistance theory. in experimental schools. 97. 144 Zeichner. 215. 189. Dewey on. 36–37. 25–30. 1968). 156–57. as intellectuals. 135. teaching of. 150–51. academic choices of. 183n. 126 Sociology. 214 Turner. 169. 118–20 Wright. 187.


He is currently an Associate Professor of Education and Distinguished Scholar in Residence for 1984–1986 at Miami University (Ohio). . and the American Dream. of which he was planning director. The Crisis in Historical Materialism (Bergin & Garvey). The Hidden Curriculum and Moral Education (co-edited). His other books include Ideology. Culture. Henry A.Giroux was a secondary school teacher for seven years. and the Process of Schooling. and the Center for Worker Education at City College where he still teaches. and Working Class Hero. an experimental public high school in New York. and Theory and Resistance in Education (Bergin & Garvey). Food. Stanley Aronowitz has also authored False Promises. These include Park East High School. He has participated in the founding of three schools. Curriculum and Instruction (co-edited).About the Authors Stanley Aronowitz is a Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Shelter.


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