Social Issues in Education (EDB 604-52)

CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY
Department of Curriculum and Foundations

Social Issues in Education – EDB 604-52, Spring 2015

Tues 5-750pm, MC 325

Professor: David Backer, PhD

david.backer@gmail.com;  d.backer@csuohio.edu

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

JH 371

Basic Course Questions

What is society, and how is schooling rooted in social production? What is the relationship between capitalism and schooling, both in the US and abroad? Does schooling produce or reproduce capitalism? Are markets the best way to guide educational thinking?

Course Objectives

Cognitive Objectives:

  1. Students will understand the ways in which major social, political, technological, and economic forces influence educational priorities.  (Contextualism)
  2. Students will understand the tensions between the goals for individual success, the collective good, and the welfare of groups in public education (Contextualism)
  3. Students will understand the history of efforts to achieve “equal educational opportunity” and contemporary school reform initiatives intended to narrow the achievement/opportunity gap.  (Contextualism, Professionalism)
  4. 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 format the role of political, economic, and social forces in shaping educational discourse. (Contextualism)
  2. Students will be able to apply course readings in class discussions, presentations, and written assignments on topics related to cognitive objectives (Contextualism, Professionalism)

Disposition Objectives:

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

Books

There are no required books for this course. All readings will be available on PDF.

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.

Special Needs:  If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with us, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, let us know.  Please make an appointment to discuss any special needs you have within the first two weeks of class.

Course Calendar

Week 1 (1.13.15): Intro, syllabus, introductory cases. Opening Lecture notes.

Section I: Theory

Week 2 (1.20.15): What is the economy?

READ: Marx, K. Grundrisse (selections) Grundrisse 1 + Grundrisse 2

Week 3 (1.27.15): How capitalism works: commodities, use value vs. exchange value, and the class struggle

READ: Marx, K. Capital, Vol. I  (selections) Capital 1 + Capital 2

Week 4 (2.3.15): What is a mode of production?

READ: Althusser, L. On The Reproduction of Capitalism, p.18-53

Week 5 (2.10.15): What is reproduction?

READ: Althusser, L. On The Reproduction of Capitalism, p.103-148

Week 6 (2.17.15): What is ideology?

READ: Althusser, L. On The Reproduction of Capitalism, p.171-209

Week 7 (2.24.15) Summary lecture/discussions/paper talks

Short Commentary 1 due (Provisional Final)

Midterm Survey Due

 

Section 2: Applications to Schooling in America

Week 8 (3.3.15): Is The American Dream A Fantasy?

READ: Bowles, S. & Gintis, H. Schooling in Capitalist America, p.3-53

Week 9 (3.17.15): Does Merit Really Exist?

READ: Bowles, S. & Gintis, H. Schooling in Capitalist America, p.102-151

Final Short Commentary 1 Due

Short Commentary 2 Due (Provisional Final)

 

Section 3: Applications and Alternative Views

Week 10 (3.24.15) Writing a past educational experience

NO READING

Week 11 (3.31.15) Analyzing the economic context of your experience

READ: Through research, at least two academic and/or journalistic sources in any language describing the SOCIAL FORMATION at the time of your educational experience. What was the mode of production at that time? Relations of production? Productive forces? Be ready to share what you’ve read with the group.

Week 12 (4.7.15) Analyzing the state context of your experience

READ: Find at least two academic and/or journalistic sources in any language describing the STATE at the time of your educational experience. What was the mode of production at that time? Relations of production? Productive forces? Be ready to share what you’ve read with the group.

Week 13 (4.14.15) Writing about a contemporary educational issue

READ: Choose an educational issue of interest to you (policy, curriculum, scholarship, practice, theory). Read a wikipedia or other form of summary of that issue.

Week 14 (4.21.15) Analyzing the economic context of your issue

READ:  Find at least two sources in any language to analyze the SOCIAL FORMATION surrounding your educational issue. What is the mode of production salient to your issue? Relations of production? Productive forces?

READ:  find at least two sources in any language to analyze the STATE surrounding your educational issue. What is the mode of production salient to your issue? Relations of production? Productive forces?

Week 15 (4.28.15) Presentations

Final Presentation and Project Due:

ANALYZING SOCIAL ISSUES IN EDUCATION: Applying Theory

Summary: Throughout this semester we have explored the social quality of education: where schooling fits in society in general. The first half of the semester was theoretical: we got a picture of schooling and society, and found a way of responding to the chicken-egg qestion with which we began the semester. The second half of the semester has been practical: exploring personal experiences using the theoretical lens constructed at the start. The final assignment will be an edited portfolio of your political-economic analyses from the last section of the semester. Included in this portfolio should be the following:

1) A description of your personal experience (1-2 pages)
2) A political-economic analysis of your personal experience, including references to data, laws, and historical accounts relevant to the experience (3-4 pages)
3) A description of an educational issue of interest to you, including a summary, research questions, and potential sources for information (1-2 pages)
4) A political-economic analysis of your educational issue, including references to data, laws, and historical accounts relevant to the issue (3-4 pages)

The final portfolio should be 8-10 pages long, using a formal citation method, and handed in hardcopy on April 28th. Be prepared to give a short presentation on that day of your educational issue.

Short Commentary

A short commentary is a 1500-word, succinct analysis of the course material. Choose a question from the section titles and questions, and respond to it citing at least two readings from that section. Provisional final drafts of the short commentaries are due at the end of the section. I will read them through, give you commentary, and then you will hand in a revised, final version of the commentary at the end of the next section.

 

Final Presentation

How has your own schooling (re)produced its social-economic context? Think of a vivid memory from your own schooling. What has been most impactful for you, as a child, young adult, or adult? Prepare a presentation analyzing that personal experience through our course’s theoretical lens. Your presentation should include concepts from our readings, as well as histories, statistics, and questions culled from original research of the social-political context of that moment.

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