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Regrading the Eighth Grade: Disciplining those who Discipline in a Jesuit Middle School of the American Midwest

by James Mullooly - 2007

Background/Context: This article describes a series of events that brought matters of discipline to the forefront for all concerned at Loyola Middle School, a Catholic Jesuit middle school for disadvantaged Latino boys located in a midwestern city. A narrative of these events will be followed by a brief literature review that illustrates the preponderance of research conducted with a discipline-oriented approach to classroom activity.

Research Design: This qualitative case study was based on a yearlong ethnographic study and a content analysis of discussions that occurred during weekly faculty meetings.

Purpose: It will be argued that discipline may not actually deserve the importance it has received. Furthermore, it will be argued that the attention that has thus far focused on discipline has missed essential features of discipline’s operation. Highlighting hidden processes of deliberate change involving discipline, the analysis focuses on a secondary tale that begins with actions of teachers that make student behavior horribly visible and then completely invisible.

Conclusions: The article concludes by linking this analysis to Cremin’s definition of education as deliberate efforts to change one’s consociates. Extending Garfinkel’s classic description of degradation ceremonies, this analysis points out the danger that all participants share in such activities. When degradation ceremonies of individual students become potentially too dangerous for the survival of the school’s reputation, it will be shown that deliberate efforts of “succeeding schools” can include “regrading” students.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 7, 2007, p. 1747-1774
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 13822, Date Accessed: 2/25/2021 2:19:46 PM

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About the Author
  • James Mullooly
    California State University, Fresno
    E-mail Author
    JAMES MULLOOLY is an assistant professor of the Department of Anthropology, California State University, Fresno. He is a cultural anthropologist with a great deal of interest in schooling and its wider ramifications. He works in the fields of ethnography, applied and educational anthropology, and ethnomethodology and is coauthor (with H. Varenne) of “Playing with Pedagogical Authority,” which appears in Classroom Authority: Theory, Research, and Practice, edited by J. Pace and A. Hemmings (Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers, 2005).
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