Dr. Wayne Journell
- Teacher Education and Higher Education
- Associate Professor, 2015
by George Orwell
I first read this book during my junior year of high school, and it changed the way I viewed government, society, and by extension, education. I have made a point to read it periodically since then, and each time, I am reminded at how much our way of life is determined by those in power, often to the point that we are unaware of how pervasive that power is.
As an educational researcher, specifically a researcher of social studies education, I think about Orwell's book often. As schools become what Foucault calls "apparatuses of security" for the state, they are only ensuring that the citizenry becomes knowledgeable about the version of "truth" decided by those in power.
As I wrote in a recent article published in the Journal of Thought:
"One of the more haunting images from George Orwell’s 1984 is that of the protagonist, Winston Smith, altering official government history on behalf of the Party as part of his responsibilities at the Ministry of Truth. Orwell viewed the mandating of a singular, unquestionable historical record detestable enough to include within a cautionary tale of unabated totalitarianism, yet students in public schools across the United States are continually being exposed to a singular national narrative within their social studies classrooms. This narrative does not necessarily come from a formal plan of indoctrination, but from tradition and the belief that schools have a responsibility to promote a unified message of what it means to be an American citizen."