Miseducation

I was very disappointed in Miseducation, a collection of Noam Chomsky’s essays supposedly on education. The book is edited and introduced by Donaldo Macedo, and represents itself to be an analysis of schooling and education, which is why I bought and read it. I am very interested in how education, learning, schooling, teaching, curriculum, and pedagogy function in political and cultural terms. I was hoping that Chomsky would be able to contribute something significant to my thinking of these questions.

Instead, by far the greater part of the volume addresses issues of media misinformation, one of Chomsky’s most common, if perhaps also most necessary, themes. It is only the first two essays that speak to the question of schooling and education directly, and only the first that does so in any sustained way. What there is about education specifically is what you would expect of Chomsky, that is, schools play a central role in maintaining a system of control by socializing students to believe that supporting the interests of those in power is necessary to survival. So far so predictable, and perhaps so true, but I could have written as much myself. I had hoped that I would find a deeper and more systematic analysis of the educational system, in the same mode as Chomsky has critiqued the media, but I found instead some tangential remarks that were never developed into a coherent and consistent argument.

Of course, the fault here is not Chomsky’s. He was not the one who gathered these particular papers and chose to publish them under the title of Miseducation. It was not his intention in any of the collected papers to provide the systematic analysis that I wanted and that I was led to expect. The fault here is Macedo’s, whose Miseducation, unfortunately, is mostly a misrepresentation.

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