Christian J. Churchill and Gerald E. Levy

The Enigmatic Academy

Class, Bureaucracy, and Religion in American Education

Temple University Press 2012

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in EducationNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network January 28, 2013 Annie Sepucaia

According to the Marriam-Webster dictionary, an “enigma” can be defined as “something hard to understand or explain.” What is it that is so enigmatic...

According to the Marriam-Webster dictionary, an “enigma” can be defined as “something hard to understand or explain.” What is it that is so enigmatic about education? Aren’t schools there to teach information, and expand people’s minds? What’s so mysterious about that?

In Christian J. Churchill and Gerald E. Levy’s new book, The Enigmatic Academy: Class, Bureaucracy, and Religion in American Education (Temple University Press, 2012) the authors, both educators, describe a tremendous paradox within the educational system in the United States. Despite the secular redemption that people search in educational institutions, and the free spirit associated with the liberal arts, schools actually reinforce the status quo, by training upper-class students for positions of authority while leading lower-class students in a direction which serve the purposes of higher social classes. Most people view education as the way to achieve social mobility, and while this is not entirely false on an individual level, the educational system concomitantly teaches students to develop a bureaucratic character, reinforcing existing social and ideological structures instead of challenging them.

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