Successful Failure: The School America Builds

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9780813331652: Successful Failure: The School America Builds

In this controversial work, Hervé Varenne and Ray McDermott explore education as cultural phenomenon—a construct of artifice and reality we impose upon ourselves. The authors discuss in five case studies how the American education system defines and measures success and failure, why there is polarization between suburban schools and urban schools, and what about our system leads us to focus on the negative. Their exploration focuses not on the people or the activities of the system, but on the institutions themselves: who decided what was a success or failure? How was the identification done, and with what consequences?This important and timely book is a must-read for anyone interested in educational reform, the American educational system, and the anthropology of education.

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About the Author:

Hervé Varenne is professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Ray McDermott is professor of education at Stanford University.


"Readers can count on a challenge to tried and true ways of thinking, both about education and educational research. Many will find themselves changing their minds." -- Reba N. Page,University of California

"The authors' cultural analysis of the pragmatics of everyday life is often insightful and astonishing. They reveal that people in general are not aware of the social conditions that make it possible to call some students learning disabled- nor even of the basic fact that if some students succeed through ranking, others will necessarily fail. The strength of this work is in showing us how people articulate and objectify categories of students through split-second interactions and judgments. Without such documentation, anthropological analysis would be fooled into thinking that what people say they do is exactly what they mean." -- Amy Stambach, University of Wisconsin-Madison, American Journal of Education

"Their vivid examples of student displays of intelligence...challenge us to think and act toward students in new and different ways. Educators, researchers, and citizens who adopt the perspective they present will never think of 'disability' as a student's personal problem again." -- Hugh Mehan,University of California, San Diego

"Varenne and McDermott go to the heart of the problem of American schooling. They show how the cultural theme of competitive individualism has been institutionalized in schools, with extraordinarily dysfunctional results. The result is a book that shows the subtle ways in which we are all co-implicated in the 'successful' production of school failure. This theoretically sophisticated and ethically sensitive book changes the way one sees schooling." -- Eric Bredo, University of Virginia

"Varenne and McDermott's book is a radical project. Their work will certainly show most readers how trapped they are in the language of success and failure and how uncomfortable they are when authors resolutely refuse to speak that language. Varenne and McDermott hold open the possibility of a world in which our vast apparatus of measurements, tests, rankings, and assessments largely disappears, at least as sorting mechanisms in the great "race." It may, for now, be but a utopian dream, but it is one worth dreaming. In the meantime, Varenne and McDermott's book may make us all pause and reflect in the midst of our interactional reproduction of success and failure as the commonsensical and natural outcomes of schools and schooling." -- James Gee, Anthropology and Education Quarterly

"Varenne and McDermott, each a brilliant ethnographer of American culture, each a major theoretical figure illuminating the complex cultural production of education in America, join forces in this field-transforming book. Successful Failure commits itself to revealing the social production of educational failure, and the role even earnest attempts to address it play in that production. Their argument emerges through startlingly skilled ethnographic interpretation and subtle theoretical analysis to arrive at an original, transformative vision of education. It should be read by all concerned researchers, teachers, parents and policy makers." -- Jean Lave,University of California, Berkeley

"[Varenne and McDermott] offer readers, educators, teachers, policymakers, and researchers a way to approach and possibly resolve many of the areas of education that, to date, remain locked in polarity." -- Julie Pearson Stewart, Harvard Educational Review

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Varenne, Herve and McDermont, Ray, Illustrated by:
Editore: Westview Press (1998)
ISBN 10: 081333165X ISBN 13: 9780813331652
Usato Rilegato Quantità: 1
The Book Junction
(Shippensburg, PA, U.S.A.)
Valutazione libreria

Descrizione libro Westview Press, 1998. Hardcover. Condizione libro: VG- to G+. Condizione sovraccoperta: VG-. DJ: some rubbing & edgewear; some creases at edges & corners; scratches. Book: some rubbing & edgewear; highlighting throughout; some yellowing; otherwise overall clean & tight. 264 pages. Codice libro della libreria 30470

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