Critical Education Theory Overview
Critical Education Theory is a branch of Critical Theory applied to the field of Education. It interrogates the social, cultural, political and economic context of compulsory State education to demonstrate how Education serves the dominant cultural interests in any society by creating a community whose members are unable to question or challenge the status quo, and who meekly accept the directives they are given by Authority.
These three PDFs outline the main principles of Critical Education Theory, and chart its history and relationship to the wider cultural/political issues of the 20th Century. They contextualise these principles within the framework of Contemporary Cultural Studies, and show how the forms of knowledge and pedagogy promoted in schools is linked directly to the needs of capitalist production and the status quo power. They suggest (with evidence) that the notion of public education as a force for emancipation and self determination is a myth, and that instead, public education seeks to create conditions of social and political passivity, a fear of collective creativity and resistance. All of this is brought into sharp focus through the example of the campus uprising of 1970 which followed Richard Nixon's "incursion" into Cambodia during the Vietnam War, and the killing of demonstrating anti-war students at Kent State University, Ohio.
Part 1: Education and The State outlines the relationship of the Educational system to the exigencies of capitalist society
To download Part 1 click here
Part 2: Constructing a People describes the mechanisms whereby Education engenders citizen passivity and quiescence
To download Part 2 click here
Part 3: Education and Resistance presents an example of education, where the hegemony of the State was effectively countered
For a releated and condensed essay/ Book review, Critical Pedagogy Where Are We Now? click here