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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