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The Enigmatic Academy

The Enigmatic Academy: Class, Bureaucracy, and Religion in American Education

Christian J. Churchill
Gerald E. Levy
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 234
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  • Book Info
    The Enigmatic Academy
    Book Description:

    The Enigmatic Academyis a provocative look at the purpose and practice of education in America. Authors Christian Churchill and Gerald Levy use three case studies-a liberal arts college, a boarding school, and a Job Corps center-to illustrate how class, bureaucratic, and secular-religious dimensions of education prepare youth for participation in American foreign and domestic policy at all levels.The authors describe how schools contribute to the formation of a bureaucratic character; how middle and upper class students are trained for leadership positions in corporations, government, and the military; and how the education of lower class students often serves more powerful classes and institutions.Exploring how youth and their educators encounter the complexities of ideology and bureaucracy in school, The Enigmatic Academy deepens our understanding of the flawed redemptive relationship between education and society in the United States. Paradoxically, these three studied schools all prepare students to participate in a society whose values they oppose.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0785-6
    Subjects: Education, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The seductions of redemption are the substance of human transformation. Children become adolescents and then young adults, and with new eyes they confront the world of illusion presented to them as reality by teachers and parents. These moments can be bracing, liberating, terrifying, confusing. Often they signal a change of perspective that creates a hunger for something “real” where unreality once prevailed. Colleges and schools are the proving grounds of illusion. There, new realities displace old as young minds seek the promise that the world’s revealed profanities and injustices can be replaced by the salvational promises of ideology and belief....

  4. I Plufort College
    (pp. 13-70)

    The American new middle classes are inclined to combine secular and religious values and divergent lifestyles in a seemingly endless search for redemptive direction.¹ They incorporate intellectual tradition and the fine arts; reform and radical politics; traditional world and avant-garde religions; preindustrial communal styles of living; transcendental hobbies; and fashionable alternative child rearing, educational, and erotic practices into their lifestyles with a moral ferocity reminiscent of the Puritans. The common thread defining these multifaceted new-middle-class directions is that they are pursued with an intensity, obsessiveness, and moral self-righteousness characteristic of the religious convert seeking to confirm his faith through frenetic...

  5. II Mountainview School
    (pp. 71-120)

    Cloistered beyond the turmoil of mainstream society, the American upper classes maintain a circuit of exclusive private preparatory schools designed to calibrate youth from privileged families for participation in the top levels of power at the institutions that shape and direct the nation’s foreign and domestic policy, as well as its commercial and artistic endeavors. The preparation in these schools involves not only attaining academic skill but also cultivating acumen in styles of domination required of managers and boards in commercial corporations, cultural institutions, and government bureaus and cultivating a basis for cooperation with and co-optation of new-middle-class aspirants. Youth...

  6. III Landover Job Corps Center
    (pp. 121-180)

    Perhaps the most poignant illusion in American education is the promise that the lower classes need only be educated to realize the American dream. While that assumption has proven true for many millions of poor immigrants and ethnic minorities, as many or more appear to be inhibited from such upward mobility by the very lower-class schools that would redeem them from poverty. The War on Poverty, with its job-training component, contains the difficulties embedded in this assumption regarding the capacity of education to deliver. Landover Job Corps Center illustrates the attempt of lower-class education to fulfill its historical promise.


  7. Conclusion
    (pp. 181-192)

    As America’s bloated ship navigates the new century’s turbulent waters, education for the dream becomes increasingly problematic. For their “working poor,”¹ service sector, or union jobs, where rank and file often settle for what they can get, Landover’s more successful graduates pay a heavy price. They experience the humiliation rituals² to which they are subjected at Job Corps, so characteristic of their previous lower-class life. For those middle-class youth seeking professional employment in the system, Plufort’s arduous education has been but a prelude to an even more rigorous socialization in bureaucratic institutions. Saddled with debt and facing stiff competition and...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 193-202)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-214)
  10. Index
    (pp. 215-223)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 224-224)