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64 The Educational System as Ideology
NOTE: This is a direct, metacognitive post that describes our education as a product of ideology. It engages students in a way that challenges their concepts of reality.
During our Socratic Seminar last Wednesday, there was a point near the end of class that, I felt, heavily linked to ideological assumption and taking the status quo for granted. This subject was education. Without calling anyone out (I don’t even remember who brought it up anyway), a discussion arose amidst the discussion of interpellating the self with that of authority–specifically, the authority of the school instructor and how their credentials play a role into how they identify with their students. In this discussion, a controversial statement was brought forth: “It doesn’t matter where you happened to earn your credentials, America or North Korea. The same knowledge is learned everywhere.” This is paraphrased, but you get the idea. “All knowledge is learned the same everywhere. This is an interesting notion, because, as I will try to explain, the idea that “all knowledge is the same and is learned everywhere” is, unsurprisingly, an ideology, and in the case of this class discussion- much like how we take a map of the Earth for being the “correct” way of observing it- this is an ideology that is fueled by presumption.
So is all education really the same? Well, can’t instructors pick and choose what material they wish to teach? And does the larger university curriculum have a say in what knowledge is dispersed and what isn’t? Remember, as Althusser writes, ideology exists “in an apparatus, and its practice, or practices. This existence is material” (695). So what if a teacher wants to teach something that the college disapproves of? Does that make is “right” or “wrong” ideology? Why should we have to read Althusser instead of reading theories on the Red Pill forum of Reddit? Can’t that be studied and discussed? It’s “right” and “wrong” education are picked and chosen by the collective intellects, and over time certain authors and works are cemented into the education of “valuable” educational material. Don’t you see? Our classroom represents a broader ideology linked to the production of ideas inside the academic curriculum. Just by reading “Critical Theory” on our transcripts, a power beyond ourselves can infer what sort of ideas we learned at this New England university. It’s a matter of standardizing norms and cultivating effective communication.
To end, I’d like to leave a couple of articles that help represent what I’m trying to get across. One is about the Texas school system voting to change its portrayal of slavery in the Civil War. The other is about the defamation of foreign powers in North Korean textbooks. I’d give them a quick read if you have the time!