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 Rather than abandoning these traditions as outdated, we need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
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."