Social Foundations of Education (EDB 301)


Department of Curriculum and Foundations

Social Foundations in Education – EDB 301, Section 50, Spring 2015

[Read student course evaluations here: _79d1fb1c-2ed3-45e8-a463-051589d70cbeen-US]

MW 430pm-545pm, MC 325 David Backer, PhD;

Office hours: MW, 2-330pm; Tu 3-4 pm

Basic Questions

Is education essentially a social-political activity? When teachers teach and students learn, how are they participating in social structures? What is the relationship between schooling and the social world? What does school produce and/or reproduce? What kind of social world do we make when we teach, learn, and study? Is school a factory? What is critical pedagogy, and is it a sufficient educational response to social injustice?

Course Objectives

Cognitive Objectives:

  1. Students will understand how historical, social, economic, & technological forces influence educational policy.  (Contextualism)
  2. Students will understand the dilemmas inherent in public education within a pluralistic democratic society.  (Contextualism)

Skill Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to analyze in an extended written and oral format historical, social, economic, and technological forces in shaping educational policy and practice. (Contextualism)
  2. Students will be able to apply course readings in class discussions, presentations, and assignments on topics related to cognitive objectives (Contextualism, Professionalism)

Disposition Objectives:

  1. Students will approach course material with a level of openness, demonstrating a willingness to critically examine their own and others’ point of view.  (Contextualism, Partnership, Professionalism)

Other readings will be made available via PDF. (Linked in parentheses next to the week’s reading.)

As a WAC course, the following criteria must be met:

  1. Students must be required to write a minimum of 2,000 words in writing assignments.
  1. The required writing must be in at least two separate assignments or drafts. The instructor should give feedback to assist the student in preparing subsequent papers or drafts of papers. This must include feedback on the writing. It should not consist entirely of mechanical correction of punctuation and grammar.
  1. In order to receive a C or better in this course, the student must write at a satisfactory skill level (C or better). If the student’s writing is weak, but shows understanding of the course material, the student may be assigned a D, in which case WAC credit will not be received for the course.
  1. Maximum enrollment for this course is 35 or 45 with a graduate assistant.

Academic Honesty: The use of the intellectual property of others without attributing it to them is considered a serious academic offense.  Cheating or plagiarism will result in receiving a failing grade for the work or course.

Attendance: Regular attendance in this course is expected and noted.

Special Needs:  Please let me know if you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability.


Course Schedule

Week 1 (1.12.15): Introduction, syllabus, etc.


Section I. Basics

Week 2: Reading Capitalism: Society, History, and the Class Struggle

(1.14.15) Marx, K. Capital, Vol. I (Capital 1)

(1.21.15) Marx, K. Capital, Vol. I (Capital 2) (Read p.45-59 & 81-94)


Week 3: Political Struggles in North and South America, Liberation Theology, and the beginnings of Critical Pedagogy

(1.26.15) Freire, P. & Horton, M. We Make the Road by Walking. (chps 1+2)

(1.28.15) Cardenal, E. The Gospel in Solentiname (Cardneal)


SCHEDULE CHANGE Week 4: Finishing We Make the Road by Walking.

(2.2.15) Chapter 3 (WMRBW)

(2.4.15) Chapter 4 (WMRBW)

Week 5: Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed: Dialogue vs. The Banking Model

(2.9.15) Freire, P. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. (chps. 1+2)

(2.11.15) Freire, P. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. (chp. 3)


Section 2: Contemporary Perspectives

(2.16.15) McLaren, P. “Critical Pedagogy: A Look at the Major Concepts” (Critical Pedagogy Major Concepts) (Kaitlyn, Margaret, Richard)

(2.18.15) Bowles & Gintis, “Schooling in Capitalist America Revisited” SchoolCapitalistAmerRevisit

(2.23.15) Giroux, H. On Critical Pedagogy: “Critical Pedagogy in Dark Times”

(2.25.15) Giroux, H. On Critical Pedagogy: “Schooling and the Culture of Positivism: Notes on the Death of History”

(3.2.15) Giroux, H. On Critical Pedagogy: “Rethinking Education as the Practice of Freedom: Paulo Freire and the Promise of Critical Pedagogy”

(3.4.15) Greene, M. “In Search of a Critical Pedagogy.”

MIDTERM DUE (3.4.15)

Part I. Complete the Midterm Survey The Midterm Survey is a self-assessment. you will tell me how you think you’re doing by proposing a grade. I’ll either accept or reject this grade.

Part II.  Find a text that’s at least 10 pages long and has to do with Ohio schools. Write a 2000-word critique of this text through the lens of critical pedagogy.

Possible texts: history of schools in Ohio/Cleveland; political speeches about Ohio schooling by local or federal politicians; mission statements or codes of conduct in the schools you went to; educational policies at the city, state, or national level; architectural blueprints for school buildings; local, state, or national standards, tests, and curricula; documents from for-profit educational corporations such as Pearson PLC.

Tip(s): Make sure to cite at least three authors we’ve read in class so far, and apply those concepts to the text that you choose. Teach me something!


Section 3: Critiquing Critical Pedagogy

Week 8: Putting the pedagogy back in critical pedagogy

(3.16.15) Backer, D. Elements of Discussion: First half

(3.18.15) Backer, D. Elements of Discussion: Second half


Week 9: Deschooling

(3.23.15) Illych, I. Deschooling Society: “Why We Must Disestablish School”

(3.25.15) Illych, I. Deschooling Society: “Phenomenology of School”

Week 10: Is critical pedagogy stultifying?

(4.1.15) Ranciere, J. The Ignorant Schoolmaster: “An Intellectual Adventure”

(4.3.15) Ranciere, J. The Ignorant Schoolmaster: “The Ignorant One’s Lesson”

Revised Draft of Midterm Due

Week 11: Feminist Critique

(4.8.15) Ellsworth, E. “Why Doesn’t this Feeling Empowering?”ellsworth-1989

(4.10.15) hooks, b. “Confronting Class in the Classroom.hooks–class


Weeks 13+14: The Long Haul: An Autobiography Myles Horton and Judith and Herbert Kohl

Reading Schedule

4.13: Introduction -Chapter 4
4.15: Chapter 5 – Chp. 8
4.20: Chp. 9 – Chp. 12 (DB absent, Angelica here)
4.22: Chp 13- Chp. 17 (DB absent, Angelica here)
4.27: Chp. 18- Chp. 21

4.29: Last day of class, reflections, finals, etc.

FINAL DUE (5.4.15)

Option 1) Write a “critical” unit in a subject area/grade level that you might teach. The unit will achieve the goals of critical pedagogy as you understand them. This will include the following:

5 lesson plans (in edTPA format: Lesson Plan w Comments (1) );  1 summative assessment; at least five footnotes explaining your decisions, referring to at least five authors we’ve read this semester.

Option 2) Write a 10 page theoretical paper answering one or a group of the course questions. This paper will evaluate and interpret critical pedagogy as an educational approach to social injustice. Draw from at least three readings in the first two units (BASICS and CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES) and three readings from CRITIQUING CRITICAL PEDAGOGY.

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