Social theory has influenced the delivery of education in America for decades. This paper examines four social theories: functionalism, Marxism, interpretive, and postmodernism, the defining characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of each. A comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of each theory is presented. Beginning in the Jeffersonian Era and continued influence by Dewey, this paper relates the role of critical theory (postmodernism) to the function of education in today's society. The author concludes with a discussion of the relationship of critical theory to a personal philosophy as nurse and educator.