new book

From: Peter Smagorinsky (
Date: Thu Mar 24 2005 - 03:18:00 PST

New book, just out:

Smagorinsky, P., & Taxel, J. (2005). The discourse of character education:
Culture wars in the classroom. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

(please excuse the shameless self-promotion)

In this book Peter Smagorinsky and Joel Taxel analyze the ways in which the
perennial issue of character education has been articulated in the United
States, both historically and in the current character education movement
that began in earnest in the 1990s.
The goal is to uncover the ideological nature of different conceptions of
character education. The authors show how the current discourses are a
continuation of discourse streams through which character education and the
national purpose have been debated for hundreds of years, most recently in
what are known as the Culture Wars--the intense, often passionate debates
about morality, culture, and values carried out by politicians, religious
groups, social policy foundations, and a wide range of political
commentators and citizens, in which the various stakeholders have sought
influence over a wide range of social and economic issues, including
The centerpiece is a discourse analysis of proposals funded by the United
States Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and
Improvement (OERI). Discourse profiles from sets of states that exhibit two
distinct conceptions of character are examined and the documents from
particular states are placed in dialogue with the OERI Request for
Proposals. One profile reflects the dominant perspective promoted in the
U.S., based on an authoritarian view in which young people are
indoctrinated into the value system of presumably virtuous adults through
didactic instruction. The other reflects the well-established yet currently
marginal discourse emphasizing attention to the whole environment in which
character is developed and enacted and in which reflection on morality,
rather than didactic instruction in morality, is the primary instructional
approach. By focusing on these two distinct regions and their conceptions
of character, the authors situate the character education movement at the
turn of the twenty-first century in the context of historical notions about
the nature of character and regional conceptions regarding the nature of
societal organization.
This enlightening volume is relevant to scholars, practitioners,
policymakers, and students across the field of education, particularly
those involved in character education, moral development, discourse
analysis, history and cultural foundations of education, and related
fields, and to the wider public interested in character education.

Peter Smagorinsky
The University of Georgia
Department of Language and Literacy Education
125 Aderhold Hall
Athens, GA 30602-7123 /fax:706-542-4509/phone:706-542-4507/


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 01 2005 - 01:00:06 PST