As interesting as Althusser’s majestic work on the topic of ideology is ….in the world of ELT the simple truth is that prejudice and ideology is spread not by a malevolent machine (although it may indeed appear a machine at times) but the everyday practise of “getting on” with the job of teacher, filtering out the uncomfortable (not who is is the classroom but who is not, not who succeeds but who does not, not in the doors which have been opened but the ones that have been closed) in the naive hope we are doing good and because people are smiling and it could be so much more unpleasant.
This everyday filtering out of the uncomfortable is beautifully demonstrated by Noam Chomsky here on the issue of manufacturing consent in the media
And Charles Dickens here
‘Please, sir, I want some more.’
The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupified astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear.
‘What!’ said the master at length, in a faint voice.
‘Please, sir,’ replied Oliver, ‘I want some more.’
The master aimed a blow at Oliver’s head with the ladle; pinioned him in his arm; and shrieked aloud for the beadle.
The board were sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr Bumble rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the gentleman in the high chair, said,
‘Mr Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir! Oliver Twist has asked for more!’
There was a general start. Horror was depicted on every countenance.
‘For MORE!’ said Mr Limbkins. ‘Compose yourself, Bumble, and answer me distinctly. Do I understand that he asked for more, after he had eaten the supper allotted by the dietary?’
‘He did, sir,’ replied Bumble.
Like Oliver Twist, we should indeed ask for more (more of others and more of ourselves).
Note: This article should be read in conjunction with another piece here where we attempt to demystify “ideology” and suggest it is nothing outside us but very much part of our everday existence which can be challenged by taking responsibility for what happens in our daily lives and subverting this reality by careful reflection and simple subversive acts.