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Deconstructing the Wall: A Critical Examination of Current Issues in Education

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number IDSEM-UG1888
Section 001
Instructor Benjamin Brooks
Days MW
Time 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SOC



This course will explore foundational philosophies of education and theories of learning to develop a vocabulary by which we can examine current controversies and debates about education in both K-12 and higher education. We will begin with core texts addressing the purpose of education in a democratic society, then analyze education sociologically, through questions like: Does education reproduce class divisions or enable social mobility? And more broadly, does education simply reproduce dominant social norms or does it enable social change? We will then engage modern texts drawing heavily from critical pedagogists, to examine contemporary issues in education, including the corporatization of schooling, the charter school movement, the relationship between poverty and educational access, the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act and the new Secretary of Education, high-stakes testing, freedom of expression and diversity on college campuses, and the concept of school safety in its many forms. In turn, students will be able reflect on and critically engage their own educations and academic choices, while seeing the legal and political elements involved in determining the goals of education, what students are required to learn, and how the resources for learning are defined and distributed. Readings for this course may include Dewey, Freire, hooks, Kozol, and Spring, as well as work by Adler, Darling-Hammonds, Giroux, Greene, Hirsch, Noddings, Sartre, and Tatum.


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Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)