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ERIC Number: EJ1092969
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
Game Plan for Learning
Toppo, Greg
Education Next, v16 n2 p38-45 Spr 2016
IN 1959, six years before he authored the study that would remake America's segregated public schools, James S. Coleman found himself face to face with a very different foe: the inscrutable desires, evolving tastes, and secret motivations of the post--World War II American teenager. At the time, Coleman was head of Johns Hopkins University's Department of Social Relations (later renamed the Department of Sociology). He had just spent two years studying the "climate of values" at several midwestern high schools, interviewing students about their academic lives, their social lives, school culture, and their rapidly evolving teen culture. Deep within the data, he found what he considered the root of the underachievement crisis in American high schools: a management structure that misunderstood teenagers and fundamentally misused student incentives. For more than 50 years, Coleman's findings in this study have been overshadowed by those of the Coleman Report. But scholars and educators would do well to revisit Coleman's earlier focus on student culture and motivations if we're to understand, in his words, "why and for whom educational institutions fail." Building on Coleman's early theories, this article discusses how new academic competitions motivate students to achieve. [This article is part of a new "Education Next" series commemorating the 50th anniversary of James S. Coleman's groundbreaking report, "Equality of Educational Opportunity." The full series appears in the Spring 2016 issue of "Education Next."]
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A