School Bureaucracies and Childhood

Well, I just got another contract to write another great thriller. The first title was “Bureaucratizing the Child,” and it is about how schools shape childhood and adulthood in the United States. This is no longer the title, but it is not clear yet what it will become. First, I need to come up with about 350 pages by August 2010! I picked the subject because I have been profoundly affected by the education system, as I expect most people are. Most of us today spend at least 13 years in school as a base, and then experience dozens more years of experience whether at the university, or as parents. Many of us also take up careers in education—in fact there are 3 million teachers in the United States! As a result, we all think we are experts about schooling, and all have opinions about how schools should be, are, and will become.

The book is not ethnography per se, but it will certainly draw on the stories others tell. Right now, I am reading a book Left Back: A Century of Battles over School Reform by Diane Ravitch. It is a good read, and explains why and how the current American system of public education emerged in the twentieth century. I am also reading a book of essays from George and Louise Spindler regarding the ethnography of classroom interactions in the United States, Germany, and other countries, and a collection of essays by Pierre Bourdieu’s fans about how education systems create the habitus created by school systems.

I really like the subject of schools, even if writing books about schools (or anything else) is extraordinarily tedious. In fact, ethnography.com blogs are much less tedious! Bottom line is that I will be posting now and then stories and thoughts about the ethnography of schooling. I really enjoy getting feedback and ideas from others on this subject, so if you have any thoughts or ideas there is always the comment line below. All ideas, thoughts, references to other books, etc., are welcome!

Anyway, I am pushing into page 8 of Chapter Two right now. Along with the pages I wrote to get the publishing contract, that means only 312 pages to go!

One Response to “School Bureaucracies and Childhood”

  1. Donna says:

    Hey Tony, good stuff–I’m teaching an Anthro and Education course this Fall, and am having my students read three ethnographies for the semester: Cati Coe’s Dilemmas of Culture in African Schools, Learning Capitalist Culture by Douglas Foley, and Race in the Classroom, by Amanda Lewis. In addition, I’ll be assigning essays by the Spindlers, and also by John Ogbu. So I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Leave a Reply