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(PDF) What are schools for?
Source: researchgate.net
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Article summary:

1. The question "What are schools for?" highlights tensions and conflicts of interests within society regarding the acquisition of powerful knowledge.

2. Knowledge differentiation between school and non-school knowledge is important, but contemporary assessment forms tend to blur these boundaries.

3. Resolving the tension between political demands and educational realities is a major educational question of our time.

Article analysis:

The article "What are schools for?" explores the tensions and conflicts of interests within society regarding the purpose of schools. The author argues that schools provide learners with the opportunity to acquire "powerful knowledge," which is differentiated from non-school knowledge. However, contemporary assessment forms tend to blur the boundaries between school and non-school knowledge, inhibiting a more accessible and economically relevant curriculum. The tension between political demands and educational realities is one of the major educational questions of our time.

The article draws on various sources, including Bernstein's analysis, to suggest that denying disadvantaged pupils access to powerful knowledge may perpetuate social privilege associated with acquiring theoretical knowledge and lead to social exclusion. However, all university students inherit some form of private benefit that has social impact, so learning through research for powerful knowledge may just be a different form of privilege.

The article also examines the concept of 'epistemic access' as the key to attaining powerful knowledge. It claims that manipulative materials can enhance students' conceptual understanding in mathematics classrooms. Textbooks largely determine what topics and ideas are taught in classrooms and how they are presented to students, affecting learning and teaching in many different ways.

The article presents critical thinking as a set of skills such as assumption-hunting, argumentation, analysis, questioning, and reflective skepticism that come close to esoteric knowledge -the site and means of knowledge production- against mundane or established everyday knowledge made 'safe' by its selective incorporation into legitimation as 'official.' Critical thinking carries strong overtones of personal freedom, social justice, and transformation.

However, the article has potential biases towards promoting powerful knowledge without exploring counterarguments or presenting both sides equally. It also lacks evidence for some claims made about textbooks failing to foster global learning or not developing all four key language skills. The risks associated with perpetuating social privilege through powerful knowledge are noted but not explored in-depth.

In conclusion, while the article raises important questions about the purpose of schools and the acquisition of powerful knowledge, it could benefit from a more balanced approach that explores counterarguments and potential risks associated with perpetuating social privilege.