This article considers the possibilities for fostering critical consciousness (awareness and understanding of oppression) among American working-class students in the face of their often severe educational alienation. After noting the failure of existing critical pedagogical literature to address this problem adequately, it establishes the seriousness of the challenge in three ways. First, it describes how the most famous critical pedagogue, the late Paulo Freire, and one of his most eminent American followers, Ira Shor, recognized the special difficulty of working with highly alienated American students. Second, it documents the extensiveness and severity of educational alienation in the United States, especially among working class students. It focuses on college students, whom the author teaches. Third, it uses Karl Marx's theory of alienation to illuminate the systemic entrenchment of the problem. The article then shows how Antonio Gramsci's theory regarding the porousness of subjugated consciousness suggests that critical pedagogy can permeate even deeply embedded student alienation. The piece concludes with the author describing how his own recent teaching experience at a predominantly working-class New England college validates the Gramscian solution.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jonathan_martin/1/