Classroom Discipline in American Schools

Problems and Possibilities for Democratic Education

Edited by Ronald E. Butchart & Barbara McEwan

Subjects: Education
Paperback : 9780791436189, 296 pages, December 1997
Hardcover : 9780791436172, 296 pages, December 1997

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Table of contents

Ronald E. Butchart

Part I: Historical and Political Perspectives on Classroom Management

1. Punishments, Penalties, Prizes, and Procedures: A History of Discipline in U. S. Schools
Ronald E. Butchart

2. "Uncontrolled Students Eventually Become Unmanageable": The Politics of Classroom Discipline
London E. Beyer

Part II: Ethnographic and Personal Perspectives on Classroom Management

3. The Visceral Pleasures of the Well-Worn Rut: Internal Barriers to Changing the Social Relations of American Classrooms
Jackie Blount

4. Why is Michael Always Getting Timed Out? Race, Class, and the Disciplining of Other People's Children
Brian M. McCadden

5. Contradiction, Paradox, and Irony: The World of Classroom Management
Barbara McEwan

6. Interpreting Glasser's Control Theory: Problems that Emerge from Innate Needs and Predetermined Ends
Sue Ellen Henry and Kathleen Knight Abowitz

Part III: Toward a Curriculum of Democratic Civility: Exploring the Possibilities of Critical Constructivist Discipline

7. Judicious Discipline
Forrest Gathercoal

8. But Will it Work? The Practice of Judicious Discipline in Southern Minnesota Schools
Virginia L. Nimmo

9. Emphatic Caring in Classroom Management and Discipline
Sharon A. Stanley

Barbara McEwan



Breaks the silence regarding modes of classroom control, bringing contemporary political, moral, and democratic perspectives to bear on the issues.


CHOICE 1998 Outstanding Academic Books

For both teachers and the public, school discipline and classroom management are acute problems in contemporary schools, often taking precedence over issues of curriculum and pedagogy. Yet, surprisingly, discipline and management have escaped sustained critical analysis. This book is a unique, heuristic effort to break the silence regarding modes of classroom control, explicitly bringing democratic, moral, and political perspectives to bear on the issues. It analyzes classroom relationships in terms of ethical and political considerations, arguing that current behaviorist and "teacher-tricks" approaches to classroom control fundamentally contradict expectations of moral development and democratic ends.

Classroom Discipline in American Schools rekindles a debate that has atrophied in the last several decades. It invites teachers and scholars in many fields to examine the moral stances and politics that are enacted daily through the implicit curriculum of mainstream modes of control, and to create new frameworks more consonant with the aspirations and ideals of democratic life.

Ronald E. Butchart is Professor and Program Director of the Education Program at the University of Washington, Tacoma. He is the author of Northern Schools, Southern Blacks, and Reconstruction: Freedmen's Education, 1862-1875 and Local Schools: Exploring Their History. Barbara McEwan is Coordinator of Elementary Education at Oregon State University. She is the author of Practicing Judicious Discipline and On Being the Boss.


"The strength of this book lies in its successfully bringing so many different conceptual approaches to bear on the topic of classroom management. The authors employ constructivism, critical pedagogy (turning it into critical constructivism), democratic education, the culture of power, judicious discipline, and the ethic of caring to consider their question of how educators can approach classroom management from a thoughtfully democratic stance. The reader is invited to enter the critique along with the authors, pondering how each of their approaches can contribute to a new view of classroom management. By joining classroom management with a concern for both constructivism and democratic education, the authors have tapped into a range of concerns in contemporary schools. The book has a smooth way of bringing philosophical questions into discussion of events and activities that teachers face daily. " -- Linda Eisenmann, University of Massachusetts, Boston

"Classroom management is often analyzed as a distinct entity. However, this book makes a compelling argument to situate the topic in a much larger context; to view it as a central aspect of the politics of schooling and the psychology of learning. As such, it is part of a larger field; namely, the historical and political foundations of education. " -- Harvey Neufeldt, Tennessee Technological University