Introducing Critical Theory In The High School Curriculum

1546 words - 6 pages

Higher education institutions, especially those dedicated to liberal arts, recently experienced a revolution in the way culture and societies are constructed and analyzed. The gradual introduction of critical theory provided a new framework for understanding cultural productions. In the specific context of literature, critical theory is a reader-response base analysis and criticism of written works. Critical theory is distinguished from other forms of theory in that it “seeks human emancipation.” (James). This theory led to the creation of a new form of education: Critical Pedagogy. This form of education “challenges teachers and students to empower themselves, to advance democracy and equality as they advance their literacy and knowledge.” (McLaren). Many of the works of famous critical theorists inspired social justice movements around the world. In a country where the younger generations become more and more a-political and apathetic about social issues (Giroux); it becomes important that educators find new ways to motivate students into re-engaging with the public and political spheres. Critical theory can inspire students today as it did in the past. Although this branch of academia is very popular among college educators and students, it remains omitted from the American high school’s English curriculum. Additionally the rising costs of higher education (Mead 511) makes it important that adolescents get the most beneficial form of education from the public system. Therefore the Texas Board of Education should require the implementation of a critical theory class, as part of their social sciences curriculum, for all high schools in the state.
Citizens who oppose the introduction of critical theory to high school students present three main arguments: Colonial and post-colonial branches of critical theory create racial resentment because they require discussions of unequal balance of power between various racial and ethnic groups (Alcoff); Secondly, Critical theory is too complex for high school level students due to the fact that it includes the study of technical terms and concepts (Abbey and Emily). Finally, the opposition worries that critical theory ingrains specific ideologies that breed anti-Americanism as a result of the study of alternative belief systems (Risselada). It is understandable that these three consequences concern many Americans, as nobody would like to witness a violent battle of the races or ideologies all over again; or, on the other hand, overwhelm young students with difficult conceptualizations. However, a deeper analysis of how the teaching of critical theory functions, and how it encourages the processing of information to form a personal opinion (Goldson 531) reveals the net benefits of learning it and how critical theory can actually solve for the concerns of those who oppose it’s introduction.
It is expected to deduct that studying colonialism and race theory leads to bitterness between students of different...

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