Popular Culture, Schooling, and Everyday Life

By Henry A. Giroux; Roger I. Simon | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
CURRICULUM POLITICS, HEGEMONY, AND STRATEGIES OF SOCIAL CHANGE

R. W. Connell

◆ I wish to explore a basic social issue in education through its relationship with general problems of social reform and popular politics in the relatively rich, capitalist, patriarchal societies of North America, Western Europe, and the South Pacific. The issue is, broadly, what to do about persistent massive social inequalities in education. Large-scale structural inequality is so basic, it mocks the claim of these societies to be democratic and poses an urgent practical problem to progressive politics as well as to workers in the education industry itself.


EDUCATIONAL INEQUALITY

Inequality in education is a distinctively modern issue. In previous periods of history access to education was limited, a situation that was accepted because it was taken for granted that priests and merchants needed to read and write, but peasants did not. Popular literacy became an issue in the Reformation, already connected with popular politics and critiques of hierarchy. The state-backed mass education systems created in the nineteenth century were designed to bring the majority of workers into basic literacy without giving scope to dangerous agitators. The "3 Rs" was a political program, literacy without radicalism. The intense cultural conservatism of traditional public schools was no accident; they displaced more chaotic but

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