Apple’s Ideology & Curriculum

Hey guys!  Apple’s reading on the nature of ideology and its roots in education was a bit intense but very interesting and extremely thought provoking.  I found it similar to Gee’s reading on Discourse.  Apple defines ideology as having three distinctive features:  legitimation, power conflict, and a special style of argument.  He then uses these features to discuss how the characteristics of ideology effect the curriculum field (education).

Like Gee, Apple believes that schools function as “mini” societies that serve as a “reproductive force in an unequal society.”  Apple states that our curriculum has a kind- of hidden agenda with it’s roots and organization centered around a more political and economical agenda rather than a strictly knowledge based focus.  He goes on to discuss how the academic achievement model accepted by our schools allows us to make comparisons among different social groups due to it’s neutralization and its acceptance as the “given” form of knowledge.  This then allows for the differentiation and stratification of certain social groups.  This is an example of power conflict in our schools.  This, however, is not spoken about or is it acknowledged as actually being a part of our curriculum.

Apple discusses the idea of “knowledge as a commodity”in our society.  The relative status of knowledge and its accessibility is a part of how schools work to process people and keep them in certain social or economic groups.  He discusses how cultural institutions “naturally generate levels of poor achievement” by only allowing access to higher statuses of knowledge to students who fit the model of academic achievement.

This is only a very small piece of what Apple discusses in his reading.  He has much to say about what type of curriculum finds its way into our schools and how it gets there.  In summery, Apple believes our society to be one that focuses much of its importance on “the benefits of maximizing the production of scientific and technical knowledge” because they are teachable and testable, unlike the arts and humanities.  Our schools then use this knowledge as a “filter for economic stratification” because this knowledge is reserved for only the finer students and schools (hence the lack of educational resources in most inner-city minority based schools).  Apple believes our society relies on this unequal social order and our schools are where our students “learn” to stay in their roles.

Like I said, this is only a tiny and very brief summary of a reading that is very dense.  I hope, however, that I’ve touched on some of the important pieces of Apple’s reading.  See you all in class!!!

Suzanne Farah

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