Synopses & Reviews
Challenging conservatives like Allan Bloom and E. D. Hirsch, Macedo shows why so-called common culture literacy is a form of dominant cultural reproduction that undermines independent thought and goes against the best interests of our students. Offering a wide-ranging counterargument, Macedo shows why cultural literacy cannot be restricted to the acquisition of Western heritage values, which sustain an ideology that systematically negates the cultural experiences of many members of societynot only minorities but also anyone who is poor or disenfranchised. Macedo calls on his own experience as a Cape Verdean immigrant from West Africa who had to surmount the barriers imposed by the world’s most entrenched monolingual system of higher education. His eloquence in this book is testimony to the very idea that critical thinking and good education are not and must not be culturally or linguistically bounded.
In Boston, twelve-year-old student David Spritzler faced disciplinary action from his school for his vocal questioning of the Pledge of Allegiance, which celebrates liberty and justice for all. The boy’s concerns were not taken by the teacher as an opportunity to engage the class in a discussion of the country’s problems, such as homelessness, which could be seen just outside on Boston’s streets. Across the river at prestigious MIT, a linguist student told her colleague that she could not take time to read literature outside of theoretical linguistics if she wanted to be a top scholar in her field. Even essays that linked linguistics to its historical and social context fell outside her diligent pursuit of theory.What do these two seemingly disparate events have in common? According to Donaldo Macedo, they are part of an educational legacy that stifles critical thinking in favor of indoctrination and specialization. Our educational system has lost sight of its responsibility to prepare students in the kind of broad, critical thinking necessary for responsible citizenship.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 185-195) and index.
About the Author
Donaldo Macedo is Professor of English and Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is a leading authority in language studies and has published extensively in the areas of Creole languages, critical literacy, biligualism, and multiculturalism. His publications include Literacy: Reading the Word and the Word (with Paulo Freire, 1987), Dancing with Bigotry: Beyond the Politics of Tolerance (with Lilia Bartolome, 1999), Howard Zinn on Democratic Education (with Howard Zinn, 2005) and Globalization of Racism (edited with Panayota Gounari, 2005). He is a collaborator with Noam Chomsky on the recently published book, Chomsky On Miseducation. His published work has been translated into several languages.