Identity and Ideology: Sociocultural Theories of Schooling

By Stanley William Rothstein | Go to book overview
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Sociocultural Theories of Schooling: An Introduction

Educational systems cannot be defined apart from their practices. These are governed by inculcation and pedagogic control and by the needs of the state that sponsors them. Schooling can do no more than consolidate the centralization of state and educational power, developing a systematic, total control over the personal and educational lives of teachers and students. Hence to think of schools as centers of instruction and rationalism is to ignore their ideological basis, Educational systems cannot exist in a vacuum, for they are interdependent institutions that must reproduce the social relations of production generation after generation. Because our interest is in an understanding of how this is done, how students become "educated" persons, our focus will be multidisciplinary in its approach. We will use the perspectives of many social science disciplines to learn how schools transform students' minds into right- thinking, obedient, law-abiding citizens and workers.

To begin, this transformation commences at birth, when neonates are subjected to a continuing barrage of pedagogical acts from parents and other significant adults. These teachings provide the children with a mastery of signification codes and linguistic categories that contain the class identity and folklore of relatives and kinfolk. They are crucial in transforming the children into social beings who are aware of their role in the family. Later, in schools, the children, come into contact with the arbitrary language, culture, and ideas of the educated classes in society; they learn their place in the educational and socioeconomic hierarchy. These, then, are the outcomes associated with the work commonly referred to as teaching. Teachers, acting as agents of the state and society, change youth into social beings and identities, who can then be used by other institutions and work agencies.

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