Revisiting Classroom Authority: Theory and Ideology Meet Practice
by Judith L. Pace — 2003
What kinds of authority relations exist in today's high schools? Throughout the last century, educational thinkers from different ideological camps have strongly advocated particular kinds of authority to promote educational aims. However, in the last few decades, sociologists of education have not adequately studied classroom authority (Hurn, 1985). Drawing on an interpretive study of classroom authority relations in a U.S. metropolitan high school, this article describes and analyzes the character of these relations, and their connection to social theory and educational ideologies. It reveals that conservative, bureaucratic, progressive, and radical positions all contribute to commonsense understandings, or taken for granted notions, that produce confused and shifting enactments of authority in classrooms. While they facilitate teachers' and students' modus vivendi, these ambiguous, hybridized versions (Kliebard, 1986; Page, 1999) of authority may not adequately serve educational purposes.
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