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A Critical Postmodern Approach to
Constructed by:
Brady Gallego
Master’s Candidate
California State University,
San Bernardino
What is the connection between Education and
Social Transformation?
Philosophy of education.
Connections between education and the power
structure of society.
Philosophy of education behind public school
Propaganda knowledge and propaganda
Counter-propaganda knowledge and counterpropaganda education.
What is philosophy of education?
What is the power structure of society?
What connections are there between this
structure and public education?
What is the philosophy of education behind
contemporary public school reform?
What makes knowledge or information
What could be considered propaganda
What makes knowledge or information
What could be considered counter-propaganda
We will further discuss each of these questions
one by one throughout this presentation.
We can all agree that education is important.
But the next question becomes: why is it
Or to be more specific: what do we think that
education from preschool through university
level is supposed to accomplish for society?
The answer that you give to the previous
question may be fundamental to your
philosophy of education.
What can we say that a philosophy of
education concerns?
Often philosophy of education is thought to be
a plan that a school has for how they are going
to teach the curriculum.
However, a philosophy of education could also
include ideas on the political value and
function of public education in society.
When we answer the question what we want
education to accomplish in society, we often
find that our answers fit into political
Conservative philosophy of education often
includes an emphasis on ideas like:
Technical/vocational education.
Teacher accountability.
Test-preparation curriculum.
Access to private and charter schools.
Progressive philosophy of education often
includes an emphasis on ideas like:
Preparing students for political participation.
Uncovering conservative ideology in the
Education as a force for greater economic
Creating awareness of political repression.
School districts, principals, teachers and
parents often assume that public education is
and should be ideologically neutral.
Discussion Question: is public education
ideologically neutral? Can public education be
ideologically neutral?
A critical postmodern philosophy of education
would try to bring together a postmodern and
a progressive philosophy of education.
Postmodern philosophy emphasizes the
relationship between power and knowledge.
Discussion Question: in what ways does public
school education reflect a relationship between
power and knowledge?
In constructing an educational philosophy that
combines progressive and postmodern
perspectives there seems to be a conflict voiced
in the statements:
Postmodern theory is the same as political and
moral relativism.
Postmodern theory is essentially conservative.
Postmodern doesn’t mean anything.
Postmodern theory is too complicated for
young students.
This philosophy seeks to combine the two
theories and resolve the objections.
It does this through:
A. Creating a political epistemology.
B. Connecting propaganda knowledge
to the power structure.
A. Focusing on objectivism.
B. Counter-propaganda knowledge construction.
Power helps to define what is and is not
knowledge. Political and economic power
structures play a role in this knowledge
production because knowledge is able to
function as propaganda.
How would you define propaganda
knowledge and what are the ways it is created
and transferred?
Propaganda knowledge is connected to the
power structure because it affirms the power
In what ways can knowledge and information
affirm the power structure of society?
There is a subtle but important difference
between objectivism and objectivity:
Objectivity = an attempt to limit subjectivity in
knowledge production.
Objectivism = a lack of acknowledgement of
the subjectivity in knowledge production.
What role does objectivism play in the
persuasiveness of propaganda knowledge?
Critical postmodern philosophy attempts to
deconstruct objectivism in propaganda
knowledge in order to construct what could be
called counter-propaganda knowledge.
How can counter-propaganda be created by
deconstructing and reconstructing
Often traditional history writing has served as
a form of propaganda knowledge that
promotes the power structure of society.
Discussion question: how has history been
written at times to promote the power structure
of society?
What part might objectivism play in the ability
of this history to propagandize?
Some progressive history writing could be seen
as a form of counter-propaganda knowledge
that confronts the power structure of society.
Discussion question: what aspects of
progressive history narratives demonstrate
confrontation with the power structure of
Is there a difference in these narratives from
traditional history when it comes to
Here are some further questions that one could
ask when evaluating knowledge as
propaganda or counter-propaganda:
1. Does this statement or narrative promote
imperialism, colonialism, racism, classism,
militarism? If it does then it is likely
2. Does this statement or narrative promote
conservation of social hierarchies? If it does
then it is likely propaganda.
In a critical postmodern philosophy of
education, public education often functions as
an institution for dissemination of propaganda
Discussion question: in what ways could public
education function as propaganda education?
In a critical postmodern philosophy of
education, transforming public education into a
counter-propaganda institution could
transform society.
Discussion question: how could teachers and
students work together to disclose objectivism
and propaganda as well as construct counterpropaganda knowledge in the classroom?
History has been used in this presentation as a
possible illustration of propaganda knowledge;
in the same way, history education could be
illustrative of a form of propaganda education.
Discuss question: what might be some dangers
of students learning history narratives that
promote the power structure of society?
Applying a critical postmodern approach to
counter-propaganda knowledge construction
could transform history education.
Discussion question: how could teachers
facilitate students learning history in a way that
confronts the power structure of society?
What might be the potential benefits for the
students of this form of history education?
Clearly, full application of these ideas to
correctional education would merit a whole
other presentation.
However, some basic discussion points could
be mentioned:
1. In what sense might correctional education
function as propaganda education?
2. How does correctional education fit into the
rest of prison and criminal justice system and
its relationship to the power structure of
3. How might correctional educational be
transformed to function as counter-propaganda
4. What be some of the societal implications of
correctional education functioning as counterpropaganda education?
This presentation has discussed philosophy of
education and argued for the potential of a
critical postmodern philosophy of education to
transform public education and society. In
conclusion, the task of educators can not
merely be seen as passing on knowledge but
rather this task should include the
improvement of society by preparing students
to become transformative citizens.