Apple educating the right way

Educating the Right Way: Markets, Standards, God, and Inequality, by Michael W. Apple

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  1. Just finished this book as part of the class.

    In it, Apple examines these rightist groups active in the debates within education:

    1) Neoliberals, who are deeply committed to markets and to freedom as “individual choice”

    2) Neoconservatives who have a vision of an idyllic and Edenic past and who want a return to discipline and traditional knowledge

    3) Authoritarian populists, who are essentially religious fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals who want a return to God (ie, to their God in particular) in all our American institutions

    4) The managerial and professional new middle class, who are the mapmakers and experts

    In discussing in this 2006 book the reconstruction of common sense among education debates, he perfectly presages Trump’s modus operandi:

    “Tactically, the reconstruction of common sense that has been accomplished has proven to be extremely effective. For example, clear discursive strategies are being employed here, ones that are characterized by ‘plain speaking’ [like trump and his plain-speaking appeal]and speaking in a language that ‘everyone can understand’ … These strategies also involve not only presenting one’s own position as ‘common sense,’ but also usually tacitly implying that there is something of a conspiracy among one’s opponents to deny the truth or to say only that which is ‘fashionable.’ As Gilborn notes,

    ‘This is a powerful technique. This is a powerful technique. First, it assumes that there are no genuine arguments against the chosen position; any opposing views are thereby positioned as false, insincere or self-serving. Second, the technique presents the speaker as someone brave or honest enough to speak the (previously) unspeakable. Hence, the moral high ground is assumed and opponents are further denigrated.’

    Does that not does that not sound just like president Trump?

    In discussing religious conservatives’ position on teaching evolution versus creation, Apple does a good job of explaining just how very much is at stake for creationists by quoting the leader of the creationist group, Answers in Genesis:

    ‘Students in the public schools are being taught that evolution is a fact, that they’re just products of survival of the fittest. There’s not meaning in life if we’re just animals in a struggle for survival. It creates a sense of purposeless and hopelessness, which I think leads to pain, murder and suicide.’

    Similarly, as discussed in the comment on Fraser’s Between Church and State, for many conservative evangelicals, America was founded as a Christian nation and what is at stake here for them is no less than the very meaning of America.

    Apple also highlights an interesting paradox related to religious conservatives who yearn for a restoration of a “Christian America.” He asks, What is it that religious conservatives want? A restoration of Christian America? Simply a recognition of their distinct cultural and religious heritage, values common beliefs that would enable them to participate more fully in societies public life? They want both. He and Fraser in Between Church and State, both cite Justin Watson’s book The Christian Coalition – ‘They want their place at the table and they want everyone to agree with them. They want a Christian nation and religious freedom. As contradictory as it may seem, they want their cake and to eat it too.”

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