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Michael Apple

Interview with Michael Apple

Excerpts-Part 3

The questions and answers are taken from Education, Power, and Personal Biography  (pages 21-44).

Q:Some people argue that you have become a cultural and educational icon of the Left in the United States and internationally. Some argue that you are not a token leftist n Madison because Madison has a tradition of progressive thought. Others may argue that, despite your transformation, you still work from a critical neo-Marxist ideology that enables but also constrains some of your options. How do you relate these criticisms to your own trajectory?

A:Yes, I do have an endowed chair. I'm quite proud of having gotten that, and that has to do with my autobiography. I'm a kid from the working-class inner city who went to night school and made good in the midst of an institution that is filled with people who never had to experience poverty. Yet, when I look back on my life, I owe deep debts to many people for what I have become. However, of all the people I went to high school with, most of them never got the opportunity to become this. So, in a paradoxical way, it reminds me of my grounding. There's a recognition of collective victory in the fact that somebody like Michael Apple can get to have a distinguished professorship. I don't think about the distinguished professorship.

Now what does it mean in terms of institutions? Wisconsin has a very long history of progressive activity. The fact that someone who is not quiet about his political position, is ratified by an institution where there are very limited numbers of endowed chairs, says something about the institution.

While I  think I've been relatively effective here, a better word that should be used is we.  Over the last seven or eight years in Educational Policy Studies and in Curriculum and Instruction, let's say ten people have been hired. Seven have been women, a number have been gay and lesbian activists, and a number are activists in antiracist struggles and scholarship. Thus, you've got an institution that has been a site of progressive movements. Again, the best metaphor is that there's a vast river of democracy, and this place is one of the places that's in that river.

In education, Clinton gets support from many people who are progressive, because of the great fear of privatization and the great fear of the racial terrain that is being established.

The danger in human beings is arrogance, that you think you have a lock on reality. This is especially a danger for people who call themselves critical. One of the things that I do not want is clones as doctoral students.



Back to Part 2

  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