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ERIC Number: ED166317
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978
Reference Count: 0
A Question of Perspective; Toward a More Complex View of Classrooms. ERIC/CUE Urban Diversity Series, Number 58.
Lightfoot, Sara Lawrence
A review of selected literature on classroom processes indicates that the primary preoccupation of educational researchers is with the dominance and centrality of the teacher. The research has primarily been concerned with documenting the strong relationship between the teacher's expectations of a pupil's performance and the actual performance of the pupil, e.g., the "Pygmalion" study. Exaggerating the dominance of the teacher and neglecting the power and presence of children in classroom research seems to support the irresponsible, dependent, and powerless roles assigned to children in our culture. Cultural perspectives on children are reinforced by sociological conceptions of the purposes and functions of schools in contemporary society. The focus on the norms and structures of the schools and their power in shaping and controlling the individual development and collective life of children offers a partial vision and unrealistic picture of classroom life. There are also methodological and strategic reasons why the interactions and social systems among children in classrooms have been given such minimal attention by researchers. For example, the social distance between investigator and subjects has been a major dilemma in classroom research, particularly in the case of minority group children. The distortions are related not only to misunderstandings of language and gesture but also to basics of ethnocentrism and racism in the researcher's perceptions. (Author/EB)
Descriptors: Bias, Children, Classroom Observation Techniques, Classroom Research, Educational Research, Elementary School Students, Minority Group Children, Racism, Research Problems, School Role, Social Influences, Teacher Attitudes, Teacher Role
Institute for Urban and Minority Education, Box 40, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027 ($2.50)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education, New York, NY.
Note: For a related document, see UD 019 111