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Michael Apple

What Do Schools Teach?

In this paper, Michael W. Apple and Nancy R. King elaborate on two areas. The first point describes a "historical process through which certain social meanings became particularly school meanings, and thus now have the weight of decades of acceptance behind them."

"Empirical evidence of a study of kindergarten experience to document the potency and staying power of these particular social meanings" is explained.

The authors found that through observation and conducting interviews of the subjects in one particular kindergarten class, information gathered "revealed how social meanings of events and materials are established remarkably early in the school year."

The final aspect raises the question of "whether piecemeal reforms, be they humanistically oriented or otherwise, can succeed."

The authors add as a final retort that "this paper by itself cannot totally support the argument that schools seem to act latently to enhance an already unequal and stratified social order. It does confirm, however, a number of recent analyses that point out how schools, through their distribution of a number of social and ideological categories contribute to the promotion of a rather static framework of institutions. We want to suggest that educators need to see teachers as encapsulated within a social and economic context that by necessity often produces the problems teachers are confronted with and the material limitations on their responses."

The article concludes with the following questions:

  • "In whose interest do schools often function today?"
  • " What is the relation between the distribution of cultural capital and economic capital?" and
  • "Can we deal with the political and economic realities of creating institutions which enhance meaning and lessen control?"


  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