The Purpose of Schooling: Ideology in the Formal and “Enacted” Curriculum

  • Paul Orlowski
Part of the Explorations of Educational Purpose book series (EXEP, volume 17)


This chapter continues to develop the theoretical considerations that first appeared in Chapters 2 and 3, but it is focused on the school itself. It first addresses the longstanding question of what is the purpose of schooling. Should the school be used mainly to provide the necessary labor requirements for our capitalist system? Should the school be used to help each individual student realize their own potential? Or should it be used in the way that American philosopher of education John Dewey envisioned it, namely, to develop critically thinking citizens who are able to address serious societal issues in a sophisticated manner? The important issue of a culturally relevant curriculum is connected to these debates, as is its corollary, a common core curriculum. This chapter makes the argument that American and Canadian societies have changed too drastically to revert back to using a monocultural, Eurocentric curriculum that some conservative educators are calling for. It briefly discusses the early challenges over control of the school curriculum in both the American and Canadian contexts. The reader gains some understanding over the ideological struggles over the curriculum itself that have taken place for over a century, struggles that get to the heart of the purpose of schooling. Apple's Ideology & Curriculum (2004) provides the analytical method used to determine how power can be embedded in the formal curriculum. In analyzing the evolution of the British Columbia Social Studies Curriculum, for example, readers can see how topics such as the trade union movement disappeared to make way for a focus on the individual. The question arises about the influence this curricular change in emphasis has had on progressive social movements being organized to resist the dismantling of the social welfare state. Chapter 4 ends with a discussion of the enacted curriculum. This is what a passionate and knowledgeable educator can do with students who bring their own interests and meaningful experiences into the classroom. The reader is introduced to examples of raceclass intersections in the history of the United States and Canada. Hegemonic discourses figure prominently in these examples.


School Curriculum Political Ideology Progressive Educator Formal Curriculum White Supremacy 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of Saskatchewan/SaskatoonSaskatoonCanada

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