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The Passions of Learning in Tight Circumstances: Toward a Political Economy of the Mind


by Ray McDermott — 2010

Novelists and economists often imagine and theorize characters who learn to survive under difficult circumstances. Mainstream educational research, in contrast, has missed the intelligence of people battling real-life pressures, and research accounts of what people cannot do in school appear more as symptoms of a sorting system than a resource for reform. Educational research might be better focused on people’s accomplishments and learning in demanding situations.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 109. No. 1.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 13, 2010, p. 144-159
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18409, Date Accessed: 10/19/2017 8:46:32 AM

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About the Author
  • Ray McDermott
    Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    RAY MCDERMOTT is a professor of education at Stanford University. For 40 years, he has used the tools of cultural analysis to critique how children learn, how schools work, and why Americans have invested so heavily in the institution of school failure. Recently, he has been working on the intellectual history of American ideas about learning, genius, and intelligence. He is the author (with Hervé Varenne) of Successful Failure: The School America Builds (1998).
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