Critical Social Issues in American Education: Transformation in a Postmodern World

Critical Social Issues in American Education: Transformation in a Postmodern World

Critical Social Issues in American Education: Transformation in a Postmodern World

Critical Social Issues in American Education: Transformation in a Postmodern World

Synopsis

This selection of readings situates issues of education in the critical context of the major political, economic, cultural, and environmental crises that confront us as a nation and a global community, including poverty and growing social injustice, racism, sexism, and other forms of marginality and exclusion; the depersonalization of social and political life; moral and spiritual issues; and the ecological crisis. It provides a focus and a conceptual framework for thinking about education in the context of these issues. Readers are exposed to the thinking of some of the best and most insightful social and educational commentators. Although this volume focuses on American society, it also presents a concern for the larger global community.

Excerpt

This volume is predicated on the following assumptions: Educators must see their work as being in the eye of a vast social storm; education and teaching are inseparably linked to the crises of the social order--cultural, moral, political, economic, ecological, and spiritual. It is impossible to make sense of what is happening educationally if what is happening is not placed in the context of the stresses, strains, and contradictions of both our national and our global society. Issues such as the growing administrative control over teachers' lives, allegations about the mediocrity of American schools, the crisis of funding, concern about what is called excellence, the impoverishment of increasing numbers of children and adolescents, fears about moral degeneration, bitter contention over the nature of the curriculum and of school knowledge, and widening disparities in educational achievement among ethnic and racial groups all must be seen, at the same time, as both critical issues in American education and as metaphors for the larger human and societal situation. This awareness is what we have tried to convey in this book. What happens in school, or as part of the educational experience, is only a part of a larger process--a process that raises profound questions about the direction and nature of the society we inhabit.

We attempted to organize the readings in this book in a thematically meaningful structure. The five sections offer a useful way to make sense of the crises and concerns that confront us. Each section is preceded by a brief essay (except the last) that provides some background to the readings. Still, the organization must be viewed as only a heuristic measure. In the real world, issues do not come neatly and conveniently packaged or compartmentalized. One problem or crisis flows out of and into another, forming interrelated aspects of a social totality. Whether one aspect of this totality ought to be seen as fundamental (as in some way, determining . . .

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