What Schools Can Do:
Designing Programs for Work
Education That Challenge the
Wisdom of Experience
Roger I. Simon and Don Dippo
Schools alone cannot solve the problems facing youth today. Yet few working in education are willing to absolve themselves from the responsibility they feel for those they teach. The question persists: What, if anything, should we be doing in schools to help transform the restricted and uncertain future many youth face?
The answer to this question will depend on how we understand schools, both as state institutions and as sites of complex social processes. Our view of schooling is one that rejects a reductionist economic determinism. That is, we reject as overtly simplistic the view that schools are inherently conservative institutions whose primary function is to support existing forms of social and economic relations. This is a perspective advanced in many studies of the impact of educational attainment on occupational status and social mobility. 1 It is a s "black-box" view of schools with little understanding or appreciation of the diverse, complex, and often contradictory practices that make up the everyday life in classrooms, hallways, staff rooms, and school yards.
In order to consider what might be done in schools to help transform future possibilities for youth, we would do well to view schools as a site of cultural production. Consider, through an extended analogy, what this might mean. In A Philosophy of the Future, Ernst Bloch explored the utopian impulse of daydreams. 2
Dreams come in the day as well as at night. And both kinds of dreaming are motivated by the wishes they seek to fulfill. But daydreams differ from night