Re: a little more on the Panofsky article

From: David D. Preiss (
Date: Wed Jun 23 2004 - 12:34:17 PDT

Following up on the Panofsky article, I was wondering if the
conclusion that differential expectations are "out of awarenness: has
been re-tested by asking the teachers directly about their behavior
and trying to make them "aware". May be they are not "out of
awarennes" but just hopeless.

Just to illustrate better what I imply, I was talking to a teacher of
a low -income school here and she was actually acting the way is
described in the studies or similarly. Still, she is a teacher that is
working on low-income schools as she is committed to improve the kids'
conditions of life. However, she realize that there are some
studctural limitations that make, in fact, that these kids will not
have the same future than those kids in private schools. We could tell
her to change their habitus or interactional patterns or discurse or
whatever. But it will not change the structural facts: the careers of
this kids, at least in a society as rigid as the Chilean, are not as
flexible as to be changed by a modification of classroom practices.

So, I just wonder, what should these teachers do to act in a
progressive way without feeling that are being just plain ideological?
My guess is that the answer is not to apply what works in rich
settings to poor settings but to develop a new kind of empowering
practice that makes not only the teachers but also the kids aware of
this differential, so they can act responsibly on this awarenness.

What do you think?

David D. Preiss
home page:

Quoting Mike Cole <>:

> Thanks to you, too, Steve, for summarizing the three key studies > that > Carolyn brought to our attention. As a triplet, they decouple > ethnicity and > class effectively, so that when (as is usually the case) class and > ethnicity co-occur in the classroom (the Collins case) the case for > class being the basis of teachers' differential behaviors is not > (mis) > attributed to rascism, though rascism can be expected to be present > as > well. > > In San Diego county, a highway running east-west through the center > of > the city provides a rough demarcation of ethnicity/class where the > same > division that Carolyn notes in the three studies you summarize is > routinely observed. Teacher education students are sent to schools > in > both the north and south parts of the county and routinely report > back > on the differential behavior of the KIDS in such classrooms, > inverting > the focus on teachers. When students use the indirect/internal > strategies > discussed in Carolyn's article, the kids are reported to get out of > control > quickly, transforming the way the students teach (a transformation > that > has already taken place in the district teachers in whose classrooms > they > do their practice teaching). Moreover, the parents of these children, > who > themselves were schooled in direct/transmission/external control > conditions > voice their disapproval of teachers who do not use such methods, > sometimes > angrily arguing that the teachers are teaching their kids to be > disrespectful > so that they stop obeying adult auhority. > > Lisa Delpit has, as many on this list are sure to know, sharply > criticized the > use of middle class, internal, constructivist teaching in working > class > African American classrooms as basically mystifying and > inappropriate. > > I mention this kid--> teacher and parent --> teacher direction of > behavioral > influence because like you, I believe that the classroom culture > (habitus > if one prefers) does indeed covertly teach class distinctions and > that the > cycle is very difficult to break within the confines of a single > classroom. > Even teachers who are quite aware of what is going on may not have > ability/ > resources/support to overcome what is going on by creating a > counter- > hegemonic, class-busting environment. > > I think it is also important to remember that there are some > powerful > external factors operating to keep the system in place. For one > thing, kids from > poor families, and more so, kids from non-Anglo families who are > poor > are more likely to come to school having consumed too much lead and > too > little protein which put them at physical risk. When their behavior > is > affected by these all-too material consequences of poverty, they > provide > "living proof" of their inferiority which feed into prior beliefs and > local > cultural practices. > > When the problem is coming from many directions, and operating at > many > levels, responses which do not counterattack in kind are at a great > disadvantage. > > I feel this problem strongly in my own work. We all know the paving > stones > from which the road to hell is paved. I feel too often like I am > spending > my time helping make those paving stones. Carolyn's article, and > others in > that volume as well, are important reminders of how complex an issue > class > domination is, and how easily people fall under the spell of rhetoric > of > no child being left behind when children are being shoved back by > those > who proclaim their good intentions the loudest. The inequalities > are > indeed savage, but savagery in return is as unlikely to remove them > as good intentions. > mike >

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