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Critical Theory Explained
Critical Theorist: Michael Apple
Critical Theorist: Paolo Freire
Critical Theorist: Henry Giroux
Critical Theorist: Peter McLaren
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Peter McLaren

Schooling as a Ritual Performance

"Culture refers to a system of symbols; more specifically, it is 'an historically transmitted pattern of meaning embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic form by means of which [humans] communicate, perpetuate and develop their knowledge about and attitudes towards life'... Ritual is a key facet of cultural production... Rituals are 'forms of enacted meaning' which enable 'social actors to frame, negotiate, and articulate their... existence as social, cultural, and moral beings'... Rituals, in other words, are components of ideology, helping shape our perceptions of daily life and how we live it."

"McLaren argues that classroom ritual in St Ryan worked to reproduce and reinforce existing patterns of class and ethnic dominance. How? First, a working class is reproduce by rituals preparing Azorean migrant students for the world of labor. Second, a working class is reproduced ritually.

Ritualized classroom lessons tacitly created dispositions towards certain student needs while simultaneously offering to fulfil those needs. For instance, students were made to feel inadequate due to their class...status and hence the school offered to help socialize them into the 'appropriate' values and behaviors by tracking them into designated streams and basic level courses."

Critical Theorists: Peter McLaren McLaren's Background Information Life in School School as a Ritual Performance Multiculturalism Other Sites Online  
Updated: 11/26/99
Laurie Williams