56 A Lesson Plan for Ideology

Luke Harding and Steven Ruggiero

A lot went into teaching our lesson on ideology that many people do not think about right away. Louis Althusser came up with many terms that are used today like Ideological State Apparatus, Ideological Interpellation, and Repressive State Apparatus. For our lesson plan, we began with an opening prompt of what the class would define ideology as, so we could compare students’ answers. We then moved into our presentation which helped clarify Althusser’s ideas as well as his key terms. We made sure to show how The Ideological State Apparatus and Repressive State Apparatus work together to guarantee that an ideology operates efficiently. Later in the presentation we moved into how Althusser actually diverted from Marxist traditional ways even though he is considered to be a Marxist. The main reason he was different was because he argued that ideology actually misrepresents the real word and that the imaginary relationships made help relate to the world rather than directly reflect upon it. To wrap up our presentation component, we gave a brief background of Karl Marx (founder of Marxism) to portray what the traditional ways of Marxism look like in comparison to Althusser’s views. From here we moved into the worksheet:
In order to better understand a text such as the one written by Althusser, we found it to be a beneficial practice to take excerpts from the written piece itself and ask students to analyze those specific portions of the text and piece together their findings with the context provided in the slideshow. This topic is not easy; it requires vigorous studying and analysis to fully comprehend. Students were asked to first read and rewrite the quotations. This step is crucial to the success of analyzing specific examples within a text. They were next asked to reflect on how the selected excerpt alters their idea of what ideology is. This helps connect the quotation to the concept as a whole. Next, they were asked to reflect on the impact the passage has on their interpretation of the works of Marx and other theoretical concepts. This applies the understanding to a larger context. Lastly, they were asked to reflect on how the selected quote altered their understanding of the subject. Althusser’s main points revolve around the subject and how ideology impacts it. The subject is everyone; it is the focal point that both shapes and is shaped by ideology as identified as Althusser. This lesson plan is designed to understand ideology in its context; it challenges students to approach theoretical concepts in a new way and it encourages them to apply their findings to situations beyond those identified in the text specifically. Ideology is complex and intense, and it makes for some intellectually rich work and discussions. (Click the link below to see the Ideology Worksheet used for the lesson)


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The Student Theorist: An Open Handbook of Collective College Theory Copyright © 2018 by Luke Harding and Steven Ruggiero is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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