Rage and Hope Home Page
Site Contents
Critical Theory Explained
Critical Theorist: Michael Apple
Critical Theorist: Paolo Freire
Critical Theorist: Henry Giroux
Critical Theorist: Peter McLaren
About Us: Information About Site Developers
Systems of Human Inquiry Web Project Page
Rage and Hope
Michael Apple


Michael W. Apple and Dennis Carlson edited Power/Knowledge/Pedagogy: The Meaning of Democratic Education in Unsettling Times  in 1998. The book focuses on many progressive issues addressing critical concerns as they relate to the lives of educators and the students affected by pedagogical and curriculum decisions. In the preface, the series editors succinctly explicate the focus of the book. "As the title implies, this book provides a profound and critical view of progressive educational theory in hard times, in an era emotionally, cognitively, and politically out of sync with questions of justice and equity. The power of self-interested knowledge producers and meaning makers has created a social context where significations have often been reversed: Oppressors become the oppressed, the private space becomes the venue for the public good, and the struggle for democracy becomes the destructive clamoring of special interest groups."

In the introduction, the authors review for us that "postmodernism brings with it some baggage that currently limits it's critical potential." "We need to bear in mind that the multiple traditions in education have roots within modern culture just as much as the conservative economic models of education do. Rather than abandoning these traditions as outdated, we need to revisit them consistent with new theoretical insights and in light of current cultural developments."

According to the authors, "the chapters in this book represent individual and collective efforts to begin to sort through recent critical neo-Marxist, postmodern, and post-structural approaches as markers both of developments in education and in theorizing about education."

The writers continue to identify the following objectives of the book: "to help articulate a range of critical theories of what is; to assist in recapturing a democratic and progressive vision of what could be; examine new approaches both to theorizing about education; and relate new theories to critical policy and practice in unsettling times."

The educational and cultural system is a variable that dictates the maintenance of the existing domination and exploitation in the social order. This critical theorist suggests that too much attention is given to schools when in essence the problem is part of a larger framework of social relations as it relates to cultural reproduction.

In another section of Chapter 1, "Reproduction, Contestation, and Curriculum," in Education and Power, the writer explains how "it has become increasingly obvious over this same time period that our educational institutions may serve less as the engines of democracy and equality than many of us would like."

One can examine schools to find out how they assist individuals to get ahead and what kinds of people actually get ahead in our attempt to alleviate some of the problems facing individual students and others. Social patterns and outcomes may inform us how the school functions in reproduction, a function that may well be hidden if our individual acts of helping remain our primary focus.

The objectives are connected to the following four fields of inquiry and activism: "state educational policy and curriculum reform movements; identity formation and education; the curriculum as text; and critical pedagogy."


  Critical Theorists: Michael Apple Values & Politics Denunciation Reproduction, Contestation & Curriculum Power/Knowledge/Pedagogy  

    Learning in Schools Cultural Capital & Official Knowledge An Interview with Michael Apple Other Sites Online  
Updated: 11/24/99
Laurie Williams