Can Education Change Society?
Routledge – 2012 – 190 pages
Despite the vast differences between the Right and the Left over the role of education in the production of inequality one common element both sides share is a sense that education can and should do something about society, to either restore what is being lost or radically alter what is there now. The question was perhaps put most succinctly by the radical educator George Counts in 1932 when he asked "Dare the School Build a New Social Order?", challenging entire generations of educators to participate in, actually to lead, the reconstruction of society. Over 70 years later, celebrated educator, author and activist Michael Apple revisits Counts’ now iconic works, compares them to the equally powerful voices of minoritized people, and again asks the seemingly simply question of whether education truly has the power to change society.
In this groundbreaking work, Apple pushes educators toward a more substantial understanding of what schools do and what we can do to challenge the relations of dominance and subordination in the larger society. This touchstone volume is both provocative and honest about the ideological and economic conditions that groups in society are facing and is certain to become another classic in the canon of Apple’s work and the literature on education more generally.
"The strength of Apple's book is the combination of theoretical and empirical approaches, which he analyses from a personal and reflective perspective. He encourages us to think about our own actions as educators in how we respond to the questions, ‘can education change society?’….The great strength of this remarkable and ground breaking work is Michael Apple’s own overwhelming passion for justice, equality and his continuing fight to making a real contribution to changing society. It’s an enjoyable and engaging read that will appeal to education students, academics, practitioners and activists who are equally committed to making a more equitable and just society." — Kalwant Bhopal, University of Southampton, UK, Race, Ethnicity and Education
Education can certainly change society, but as Apple shows, not necessarily in ways that critical and progressive educators might wish. He encourages us to take heed of the conservative modernisation efforts by the right through the alliance of neoliberal, neoconservative and populist religious movements to use education both as a site of, and a tool for, social transformation, in order to learn how to bring about counter-hegemonic efforts. — Stewart Riddle Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland, Australia, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education
Acknowledgements 1. Can Education Change Society? 2. Paulo Freire and the Tasks of the Critical Scholar/Activist in Education 3. George Counts and the Politics of Radical Change 4. Du Bois, Woodson, and the Politics of Transformation 5. Keeping Transformations Alive: Learning from the "South" (Luis Armando Gandin and Michael W. Apple) 6. Wal-Marting America: Social Change and Educational Action 7. Critical Education, Speaking the Truth, and Acting Back 8. Answering the Question: Education and Social Transformation Bibliography Index
Michael W. Apple is John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.