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The Uncertain Value of School Knowledge: Biology at Westridge High


by Reba Page — 1999

This article describes and analyzes the surprisingly uncertain value of school science in an academically prestigious high school at a time when reform in science education is again a national priority. In a cultural analysis focused on school lessons, it traces how school participants produce a veritable absence of science in science classes and how the production is sensible, or understandable, given their particular institutional and social circumstances. What emerges, too, is the extraordinary reach, or complexity, of ordinary school lessons. However unevenly or intricately, lessons move from teacher plans to student responses, beyond events in classrooms to the culture of a school, across contemporary hybrids of divergent curricular rationales to long-past historical debates, while traveling between subject matter knowledge and status politics. Seeing their reach allows us to understand the long-standing muddlement of knowledge in U.S. schools, as well as what we can do about it.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 100 Number 3, 1999, p. 554-601
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10323, Date Accessed: 9/25/2017 2:53:13 PM

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About the Author
  • Reba Page
    University of California, Riverside
    E-mail Author
    Reba Page is professor of education at the University of California, Riverside where she studies and teaches about curriculum, interpretive research methods, and the sociocultural foundations of education. She is the author of “The Tracking Show,” in Curriculum, Democracy, and Liberal Education: Essays in Honor of H.M. Kliebard, edited by Barry Franklin (Teachers College Press, forthcoming).
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