Response to Official Knowledge, written by Michael W. Apple

official_knowledge

The text begins with the assertion that the “Right” and later the “New Right” is gaining power by systematically coloring the thought of the populous in order to see capitalism saturate every area of society including curriculum and education. In the meantime, the grassroots movements are finding themselves slowly dismantled by their own competition and rendered impotent by being folded into mainstream politics while actually isolated from any real power.

Less than 50 pages in and I know I am in a bit over my head, however enjoying it nonetheless. Roughly quoted, education is by nature riddled with political agendas and here we find no exception. The text spares no time into delving deep within the political sphere, never apologizing for it’s own self-identifying rhetoric. Words such as “progressive” and “critical” seem to identify the perspective of freedom and equality while “the Right” represents some sort of long-lived social organism that seeks political and economic control for it’s own gain. I found myself paralyzed enough by the importance of such vocabulary that I consulted the discussion pages of the Wikipedia article for the “right wing” article in search of a “democratic” source of a definition. Of course what I found was further argument and hyperbolic examples ranging from free-market and civil-liberty philosophy to Nazism. Even texts in Rhetorical studies are not immune from their own analysis.

Definitions aside, I agree that much of the “common-sense” political views I am exposed to (excluding those socialists and their newspapers, of course) tend to seek equality through free market competition. The parallel between this and social Darwinism played out in the school system made my stomach sick when I realized how I have only been comfortable with that position as long as I am not the one starving. I hope that additional readings and discussion will illuminate this topic further.

A point of confusion arose when I noticed that while value is given to teachers and communities having the power to pick their own curriculum while the mention of home schooling, where curriculum is decided on the social unit closest to the one learning, it met with a hint of disgust. Why is this the case? Could it be that if the authority to decide is done in isolation of the community the long-term results are even worse than a state mandate of uniform information?

Families have the tendency to educate their children into their parents mistaken truths (racism, religious inconsistencies) while governments run the same risks with only the illusion of democracy to protect. Both institutions are blind by my assessment, despite the fact that at the end of the day it is the family’s responsibility to raise a child.

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