Studying the Social Worlds of Children: Sociological Readings

By Frances Chaput Waksler | Go to book overview
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Chapter 8

Dancing When the Music is Over: A Study of Deviance in a Kindergarten Classroom

Frances Chaput Waksler

Commentary

Although the purpose of this article is simply to describe certain kinds of activities in a kindergarten classroom, it suggests the useful practical information that can emerge from sociological research. Teachers, for example, might find it very useful—though not necessarily pleasant—to have such a study done of their own classrooms, for in this way they might be able to identify many of the taken-for-granted assumptions that underlie their behavior and see their activities in the stark terms in which research presents them. Some behavior might be reconsidered, other kinds discontinued, yet other kinds reaffirmed; results of such a study would provide a particularly fruitful basis for making such choices.

As in the foregoing article by the Adlers, readers may find the issue of right/wrong and good/bad arising and will find that that issue is not addressed. Rather, the findings are presented in a way that allows readers with different moral positions to gain knowledge. Is the teacher described here a good teacher? Answers will differ according to different moral positions, different conceptions of the goal of teaching, whether or not one has had experience teaching, and so forth. The article itself does not provide an answer but does present evidence for those who wish to develop such an answer.

Seldom if ever, in its detailed daily manifestations, does behavior fit the public image that exists of it. Whether that image is positive or negative, elements of the opposite moral cast are also routinely present. Thus good teachers can be judged as doing bad things, bad teachers as doing good things. Practical activities are constructed as ways of acting in very specific situations

From Patricia and Peter Adler, Eds, Sociological Studies of Child Development, Vol. 2. Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press, 1987. Reprinted by permission of JAI Press Inc. A version of this paper was presented at the meetings of the American Sociological Association, New York City, August, 1986.

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