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Popular Educational Classics

A Reader

Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis

The last half century has created deep tensions in how we analyze educational and social change. Educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens have had to cope with competing belief systems in evaluating and acting upon school policies and practices. This illuminating book untangles many of the roots of those persistent debates that have divided the nation for so long. It offers readers a critical opportunity to reflect on our continuing ideological struggles by examining popular books that have made a difference in educational discourse.
The editor has specifically selected key books on social and educational controversies that speak to wide audiences. They frame contextual issues that so-called «school reformers» have often neglected – much to the detriment of any real educational progress. Ultimately, this text is meant to stir our consciences, to disorder our certainties, and to compel us to treat education and culture with both reason and passion. It is highly relevant for courses in social foundations of education, school reform, educational policy studies, philosophy of education, history of education, politics of education, curriculum studies, and teacher education.
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Chapter Thirty-Five: Henry A. Giroux, Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability? (2010)


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Henry A. Giroux, Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability? (2010)

Sheila L. Macrine

Like the canary in the coal mine who alerted miners to poisonous air, Henry Giroux’s book serves as a bellwether, warning its readers that we ignore the plight of youth at our own peril. Giroux proposes a dramatic and hopeful shift in how we think about youth and schooling and places them in political and ideological perspectives.

Scholar, educator, and cultural critic, Giroux engages in a passionate take-down of the practices associated with a negative form of globalization (Giroux, 2006), including biopolitics and neoliberalism, by exposing their punishing effects on today’s youth and the poor. He critically analyzes the deployment of, as well as, the real and symbolic effects of neoliberalism on youth. Recognizing this new type of imperialism as a more powerful, pernicious, and perilous state, Giroux makes explicit the importance of a renewed cultural dynamics and the need to make pedagogy and hope central to any viable form of politics engaged in the process of creating alternative public spheres and forms of collective resistance.

Neoliberalism has become the “planetary vulgate” of modern capitalism, one that relies upon, and resides in, the socialization of uncritical citizens (Bourdieu, 2000, p. 541). Further, its dominant framework of individualism, self-responsibility, and symbolic violence often leads people to (unjustly) blame individuals for their own suffering while simultaneously obscuring the role of...

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