16266_Chapter_5 - 05-Schiro.qxd 8/6/2007 6:31 PM Page 133 5...

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5 Social Reconstruction Ideology 133 E ducators who promote the Social Reconstruction ideology view curriculum from a social perspective. First, they assume that our society is unhealthy—indeed, that its very survival is threatened—because the traditional mechanisms developed by society to contend with social problems are incapable of doing their job. Second, Social Reconstructionists assume that something can be done to keep society from destroying itself. This assumption necessitates the development of a vision of a society better than the existing one, a society whose problems and conflicts have been resolved. It also requires action directed toward reconstruction of society based on that vision. Finally, Social Reconstruction educators assume that education provides the means of recon- structing society. They have faith in the ability of education, through the medium of curriculum, to educate “the masses of humanity” to critically analyze themselves in relation to their society, understand the ills of their society, develop a vision of a better world based on a conception of social justice, and actualize that vision. Social Reconstructionists begin with the assumption that the survival of our society is threatened by many problems. These problems include, among others, racism, war, sexism, poverty, pollution, worker exploitation, global warming, crime, political corruption, population explosion, energy shortage, illiteracy, inadequate health care, and unemployment. Underlying many of these problems are deep social structures—many based in Eurocentric conceptions of knowledge, culture, and values—that through the school’s hidden curriculum subtly shape student beliefs and behavior in such a way that they, as both students and future adults, will contribute to the continuation and worsening of these problems. If these problems are not resolved, they will threaten the survival of our society. However, all is not lost. There are actions that can be taken to improve our situa- tion and save society. As George Counts wrote in 1932, during the Great Depression, 05-Schiro.qxd 8/6/2007 6:31 PM Page 133
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the point should be emphasized, that the present situation is full of promise, as well as menace. Our age is literally pregnant with possibilities. There lies within our grasp the most humane and majestic civilization ever fashioned by any people. At last men have achieved such a mastery over the forces of nature that wage slavery can follow chattel slavery and take its place among the relics of the past. No longer are there any grounds for the con- tention that the finer fruits of human culture must be nurtured upon the exploitation of the masses. The limits set by nature have been so extended that for all practical purposes we may say that we are bound merely by our own ideals, by our power of self-discipline, and by our ability to devise social arrangements suited to . . . [our] age ....In other words,
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16266_Chapter_5 - 05-Schiro.qxd 8/6/2007 6:31 PM Page 133 5...

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