Self and School Success

Voices and Lore of Inner-City Students

By Edwin Farrell

Subjects: Educational Research
Series: SUNY series, Studying the Self
Paperback : 9780791418468, 173 pages, March 1994
Hardcover : 9780791418451, 173 pages, April 1994

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Table of contents



Identity Formation and Adolescent Selves
Listening to Student Voices
Plan of the Book

1. The Career Self

An age of Desperation?
Racism, Education, and the Job Ceiling
School and Careers
The Good-, the Bad-, and the Not-Me

2. The Sexual Self

The Onset of Sexual Activity
Sex Education, Contraception, and AIDS
Sexual Orientation
The Sexual Self and School

3. The Peer Self

There Are Friends and There Are Friends
Peers and Moral Development
Peer Subculture
School Success and the Peer Self

4. The Family Self

Families and Children
Family Problems
Single-Parent Families
Mothers and Daughters
Families as Transmitters of Culture
Family, Peer, Sexual, and Career Selves

5. Interlude—The Voices of Parents

Fearful and Harried Voices
Critical Voices
Hopeful Voices
The Parent Self

6. The Student Self

Between Success and Failure
Education and the Future
Perceptions of School
School and the Student Self

7. Interlude—The Voices of Teachers

Power and Powerlessness
Conclusion: The Teacher Self

8. The Affiliating Self

The Spiritual Self
Communities within Communities

9. Will—Student Theory of Success

Constellations of Success
Breaking the Will
Strengthening the Will
Will and Boredom

10. Voices, Selves, and Symbolic Universes

An Etic View of Success
The Different Voice
The Cultural Psychology of Voice, Self, and Symbolic Universes

11. Small Is Better

Needs of Students and Teachers
River East Elementary School
Central Park East Secondary School
Restructuring for Success

Appendix. Ethnographic Enquiry and Education


The Method
The Text





With the problems of the inner-cities reaching catastrophic proportions, Americans must ask themselves whether any young people in these environments can succeed at all. In our high schools, the good news is that some do; the bad news is that most do not. Here the author offers a provocative and probing picture of the lives of the young people who learn and who graduate from comprehensive high schools in an environment that includes drugs, violence, and declining economic conditions.

Data for the book were collected by young people in neighborhood schools who taped unstructured dialogue with successful students. Vignettes, told in the words of the young people themselves, address issues of schools and their relation to students' careers, the roles of teachers and parents, the support of community and religious agencies, as well as the influence of peers regarding drugs, violence, and sexuality.

Farrell offers a theory of adolescence based on young people who are in the process of finding out who they are and where they fit in. In the final chapter, the author describes existing schools which create environments that make this possible.

Edwin Farrell is Associate Professor, School of Education, The City College of The City University of New York.


"It is timely and much needed. For the past fifteen years I have said when it comes to urban environments we have studied the wrong youth—the dropouts! This book studies the stay-ins, the survivors, and has much to offer the educational community!"—Dr. Richard P. Lipka, Pittsburg State University