Corporate commercialism in schools threatens critical thinking

Similarly, energy companies such as Chevron and Shell Oil (another Scholastic Inschool client) have spent heavily on classroom materials. Shell’s sponsored school curriculum describes the multi-national corporation as a leader in alternative energy rather than as chiefly a petroleum company.

“These materials are designed to place a halo over the sponsoring company, not to promote a critical understanding of complex issues,” said Molnar.

After reviewing these and other corporate-sponsored materials, the authors conclude that “Instead of promoting … higher-level thinking, sponsors promote their message and encourage activities” that may appear to forward children’s education, but never risk “touching on anything that might lead to thinking inconsistent with that message.”

Molnar, Boninger, and Fogarty point out: “This is the natural, unsurprising course of action for a corporation. It does not, however, promote the intellectual development of students or serve the broader interests of society.”

The authors argue that corporations’ interest is the profit motive, not educating children or promoting the general welfare. They conclude:

 “Corporate involvement with schools necessarily bends what students learn, how they learn, and the nature of the school and classroom environment in a direction that favors the corporate bottom line. These corporations attempt to shape the habits of mind that children internalize and carry with them, to the detriment of us all.”

Cross-posted from the National Education Policy Center.

The Educational Cost of Schoolhouse Commercialism: The Fourteenth Annual report on Schoolhouse Commercializing Trends: 2010-2011, by Alex Molnar, Faith Boninger, and Joseph Fogarty, on the web at:

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