Conference Papers

‘It Takes a Politicised Educator to Free Education from Capitalism’

Giroux (2011) urgently reminds us that we need to rescue education from becoming reduced to an intellectual victim of capitalism, and this paper asserts that it takes a politicised educator to free education from capitalism. This in turn will also ensure that the discipline of education studies remains critical, dialectical and a force for social and educational change.

To advance this journey of social and educational change we advocate underpinning our practice with two approaches. Firstly, a return (Derrida, 1994) to the thinking of Karl Marx, whose work shows us that knowledge, society and an education system formulated from capitalism represents “the ruling ideas, (which) are nothing more than the ideal expression of…the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas” (Marx & Engels, 1845:192), “ideas” that have become situated and normalised in education today. The pedagogic legacy from Marx is best reflected in the critical pedagogy of Paulo Freire, which rejects ungrounded banking approaches to education in favour of dialogic and dialectical methods. Secondly, through an engagement with sustainability education, colleagues and students are encouraged to become forces for environmental and social change. The authors contend that from these two approaches authentic transformative learning and education can occur.

This paper will discuss how these two approaches underpin the practice of the authors and the work they undertake with students on the Education Studies Programme at the University of Plymouth. It will also explore what it means to be a critical educator in the current educational climate.

Parker, M. and O'Sullivan, C. (2015) '‘It Takes a Politicised Educator to Free Education from Capitalism’', paper presented to The 11th Annual Conference of the British Education Studies Association (BESA), 25–26 June, viewed 13 August 2020, <>