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Thinking critically before teaching critical thinking

Posted on November 24, 2011 by Sarah

Lately I’ve been reading articles and discussing in my classes hegemony, oppression and education. Hegemony is that accepted state of consciousness, the paradigm of the day, the status quo, the underlining dominant logic. Its the implied construct  that feeds into the way you live your life. It’s unfortunate that B.Ed programs don’t ask for a deeper reflection into the institution we are expected to teach within and the hegemony we’re being asked to reproduce. Yet of course the system doesn’t want us to look critically at the embedded power structures that allow people at the top to flourish. Although the purpose of education can be debated in its own topic, we can agree that education should not oppress. Instead, we can argue that it should be anti-oppressive, promote an openness to freewill and self-actualization. But we cannot escape that education is grounded on ideology that forms power

not quite clear on the concept by WoodleyWonderWorks

photo: WoodleyWonderWorks, flickrcc.net

structures, a system that creates winners and losers. If students don’t fit into our educational model, if they don’t identify with the system, they are marginalized and can internalize that they are less valuable or less successful by definition of education. Hegemony can saturate our consciousness to the point where we don’t even realize we are reproducing it. Teachers are bogged down with standards, new methods, “best practices” further distancing them from the heart of the matter. Our educational system is one, arguably arbitrary, way of streaming individuals into societal roles. So when you ask your students to question “who benefits” from a particularly text, be sure to extend this question to yourself regarding your current role in society.

“While schools may in fact serve interests of many individuals, and they should not be denied, at the same time, though, empirically they also seem to act as powerful agents in the economic and cultural reproduction of class relations in a stratified society like our own”
Michael Apple – Ideology and Curriculum (1990) p.8

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