Postmodern education Research Paper 8 pages

Post Modernism: A Forced Impact

The objective of this work is to describe a philosophy or philosophies that the writer of this work ascribes to and to explain why specifically incorporating values and beliefs held by the writer. As well, discussed will be the personal philosophy of the writer as it relates to the purpose of education, the student’s role and the role of the school in society, locally, nationally, and internationally as well as the role of students and parents as well as teachers and administrators. Also addressed in this study is where ideals are derived from and examined will be development of curriculum and instruction, classroom management issues, school management and administration issues as well as diversity of education and how education can best cope with change. Finally, this work will examine education as an integral part of lifelong learning and who should be in receipt of an education.


Schostak (1991) writes in the work entitled “Modernism: Post-Modernism: The Curriculum of Surfaces” the following “the real curricula in this age of mass information have been taken out of the hands of educationists by the great global systems of information processing, image making and attitude forming. The most powerful narratives in circulation that frame experience, provide grist for mass reflection, judgment, appreciation and reasons for action are part of a global industry, generated for reasons of profit, power and control not education. That reforms in education are made by politicians in the name of preparing for the life created by the economic challenges of the new world order at least points which of the two – education or political economy – is really the motivation behind the school curriculum.” (p.1) Schostak writes that modernism is “characterized by the generation of ‘grand narratives’ and Post-Modernism by a plurality of narratives. This is suggestive of differences in the kind of curricular structure that each would employ; and the kinds of ‘knowledge’, professional competence, role and conception of education that teachers would value.” (1991, p.1)

I. Post-Modernism

Jencks (1987) views the architecture of Post-Modernism as “fundamentally the eclectic mixture of any tradition with that of the immediate past: it is both the continuation of Modernism and its transcendence. Its best works are characteristically double-coded and ironic, making a feature of the wide choice, conflict and discontinuity of traditions, because this heterogeneity most clearly captures our pluralism.” (Schostak, 1991, p.1) Schostak notes that Jenks views various political economic distinctions underlying the shift from Modernism to Post-Modernism in terms of architecture as follows:

Mass Production To Segmented Production

Relatively Integrated Mass Culture To Many Fragmented Taste Cultures

Control by the Central Government To peripheral decision-making

Manufacture of Identical objects To varying objects

Few styles To many genres

National Consciousness To global with simultaneously local


Manufacture of goods To manufacture of information.

Therefore, it can be garnered that a modern society that is industrialized is one that is dependent “upon the mass production of objects in a factory” and Post-Modern society is dependent upon “the segmented production of ideas and images in an office.” (Schostak, 1991, p.1)

Schostak writes that there is not a good working definition of ‘Post-Modern’ however, Post-Modern to Schostak

“alludes to the experience or feeling that somehow a change is upon us. The circumstances, the beliefs, the values that gave rise to the Modern age are giving way, are crumbling. The promises of glorious cities composed of great tower blocks amidst great parks, dreamt of by Le Corbusier in his writings of the 1920s and 30s collapsed like the Ronan Point tower block in London, or were later blown up because they had failed to deliver their promises. Science has not delivered utopia. Communism is collapsing and Capitalism has created nightmares in its cities, left millions in poverty, shamelessly exploited third world countries and brought the world to the point of ecological disaster. The belief in inevitable progress as a faith has lost or is at least fatally losing credibility. Perhaps it is experienced as a kind of ‘confusion in the ranks’ a kind of ‘we’re going, but where are we going.” (1991, p.1)

The changes in schools, according to Schostak were reflections of “the kinds of changes being made in industry.” (1991, p.1)

A theme of post-modernism, according to Schostak is “its loss of belief in, or a questioning of the great narratives that have held nations in thrall.” (1991, p.1) Post-Modernism is stated to have emerged during the 1960s in what is described as “a time of questioning, a time of pop-cultures, of youth consumerism, of drug and religious experimentalism and a time of belief in revolution. The themes of youth, racial identity, feminism threatened to de-stabilize the old structures as the repressed and minorities in Western societies reclaimed their histories so long denied by colonialism, or repressed by paternalism.” (Schostak, 1991, p.1)

Schostak (1991) notes that the argument stating that the destabilization could be blamed on “…the increasing pace of the information age which put images of youth in North America, Britain and other European countries in virtually immediate contact, which enabled the sounds of pop to be reproduced in their millions and broadcast to audiences in their hundreds of millions…” (p.1) The destabilization is reported to have “not so much…showed itself…in the protest marches of the 60s and early 70s but later in the decade” and specifically during the 1980s when globalization of corporations grew along with the information networks. The role of information technologies have increased in Western societies and as such “do not require the existence of mass pools of identically trained laborers, great factories and massive machinery.” (Schostak, 1991, p.1) The great industries of the past are witnessed to have met their demise “leaving whole communities unemployed, whole regions as wastelands.” (Schostak, 1991, p.1) In addition the huge multinationals that “trade in information and control empires and as great as nations have switched their operations from one nation to another, searching for the cheapest labor and material costs.” (Schostak, 1991, p.1)

II. Curricula: A Response of Schools

Schostak (1991) reports that schools “respond with curricula emphasizing empowerment, flexibility, critical thinking” which is reflective of “the latest business management philosophy” and in the desperate effort to attempt to find “an educational response to these massive social changes, which prepare children for a future that will demand continual change, and continual re-training; a future where stables forms of knowledge are no longer to be found. However, for the increasing levels of structural unemployment, even this does not seem to be an answer.” ( ) The question is posed by Schostak as to what type of curricula is relevant in an area where entire communities are unemployed? Post-modernism in the view of Schostak is “a response to the failure of the rationalist dream in the face of globalizing capitalism” is a response reported to “take many forms” and Schostak reports that the commonality of Post-Modernism “seems to lie in the de-construction of realities and in the recognition of pluralism without recourse to calling the alternatives to the master narrative false consciousness, sin, error or absence of culture civilization.” (1991, p.1)

III. Student and Teacher Voice in Creation of the Learning Environment

The work of Richardson (nd) addressed the role of the student voice in the Post-Modern Era in the classroom writes that the inclusion of the “voice of the teacher and the student in today’s classroom to create a supportive and productive learning environment is one of the most essential challenges educators struggle with today.” The modern era and the Post-Modern era are quite different in that the modern era “was ushered in by the philosophical ideas of John Locke, Rousseau, and innovative practitioners such as Heinrich Pestalozzi and Froebel. The Post-Modern era was characterized by such as “educational tents of difference, particularity and irregularity to schools. Developmentally appropriate practices, cooperative learning, performance assessments and learning styles are all educational practices that sprang from the changing values of the postmodern era. Irregular non-tests methods of assessments such as portfolios, projects and performances spoke to the idea that children learn in different ways. Special Education became the law in recognizing the differences in how students learn. Gifted, learning disabled, emotionally disturbed and multi-handicapped are just a few of the irregular labels created by our desire to recognize differences in the name of learning.” (Richardson, nd) It is noted as well that violence in streets and in the home “poured over into the school in many different forms by students that believed they had the right to challenge everything.” (Richardson, nd)

IV. Change: The Only Constant in Post-Modernism

The postmodern world was characterized by the lack of a “solid wall between public and private lives. One could air his/her dirty laundry on television about family or even about the President of the United States. Many lamented about the loss of the good old days when there was a well maintained distance kept between adults and children, where the adults laid down the laws and children obeyed them. Students today are seen as competent small adults that can deal with divorce, drug addictions, violence, advertising, neglect and sometimes abuse. What at one time would have been irreproachable to change, students and society forced to change (Elkind, 1997 in: Richardson, nd).

It is stated of Postmodernism that it became “…an ideological and political marker for referencing a world without stability, where knowledge was constantly changing and change was the only constant.” (Nesrin, nd) Aronowitz and Giroux (1991) examine the fact that most individuals believe that postmodernism is destructive in nature. The discourse of post modernism is such that asks “What is reality….what is right?” (Nesrin, nd) This is because “general ethical understandings and principle have lost their validity: source of ethical norms are now real conditions and requirements of time and age.” (Nesrin, nd)

Postmodern education in the work of Lyotzud means that knowledge “will not be a set of propositions, it will be means of how to live to listen thus how to learn. Shortly, knowledge wi1l be means of interpeting the reality and one’s achieving his/her own rights. In such kind of an education, a group interaction enabling individual originality, diversity and imagination; a continuous dialogue aiming to reach targets by using means will be the base of education. Briefly, the main aim of this education is not to depend on a single right, single type of discourse but to create pluralist, participating education environments that are in search of new language systems and new interpretations. Post-Modernism as a response to the failure of the rationalist dream in the face of globalizing capitalism takes many forms. Its commonality seems to lie in the de-construction of realities and in the recognition of pluralism without recourse to calling the alternatives to the master narrative false consciousness, sin, error or absence of culture/civilization.” (Nesrin, nd )


Postmodernism marks the end of the traditional formulation of education and curricular matter. Postmodernism acknowledges the role and importance of technology in learning and in fact holds that learning is no longer based on subject matter but due to the ever changing and growing base of scientific knowledge in today’s world that education is focused on how learning takes place and the tools that are utilized in learning or those of technological applications.

While it is held by many that Postmodernism is destructive in nature, in reality Postmodernism is adaptive and responsive in nature to the changes that have occurred in the world locally, nationally, and globally, all of which affect education methods, means and innovations. Postmodernism is not a change in itself but is rather a response to change or in other words, Postmodernism is not an ‘action’ but is more akin to a ‘reaction’ on the part of society, its’ organizations and institutions to a broader view of learning that is not dependent upon local cultural and structural underpinnings and ideals but instead is formulated on the basis of scientific knowledge that is not static but very much vibrant and constantly and rapidly expanding.


Aronowitz, S., & Giroux, H. (1991). Postmodern education: Politics, culture and social criticism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Elkind, D. (1997). Schooling and family in the postmodern world. In A. Hargreaves (Ed.), Rethinking educational change with heart and mind (pp. 27-42). ASCD Yearbook.

Giroux, & McLaren, (1992). Media hegemony: Towards a critical pedagogy of Representation.” In Schwoch, White and Reily: xv-xxxiv.

Giroux, H. (1996). Living dangerously: Multiculturalism and the politics of difference. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

Nesrin, K (nd) Post Modernism and Education. Turkish Journal of Police Studies. Vol. 3 (1-2) Retrieved from:

Richardson, SE (2001) Positioning Student Voice in the Classroom: The Postmodern Era. Retrieved from:

Schostak, J. (1991) Modernism: Post Modernism: the Curriculum of Surfaces. Key Themes in Qualitative Research and Enquiry-Based Learning. Spencer Hall Invitational Conference, University of Western Ontario, October. Retrieved from:

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