Tangled Up in School: Politics, Space, Bodies, and Signs in the Educational Process

By Jan Nespor | Go to book overview

7 Fieldwork as an Intersection

Those of us who study education in our own societies, especially those of us who work for colleges of education, are not so much creating new relationships when we do school ethnography as we are trying to extend and redefine already existing relationships. I came to Thurber burdened with pieces of ready-made identities: the faculty there had known people like me when they were college students, and there were ongoing connections between my institution and theirs. My university, for example, sent student teachers into the school system, and the college of education I worked for was the destination for many of the system's administrators seeking advanced degrees. People's experiences with my college and colleagues--and what they'd heard secondhand--affected how I was accepted into the school and what I learned there. As Weick ( 1985) pointed out, people study us as we study them, each of us using our familiar categories to make sense of the other (cf. Kondo, 1991).


GETTING INTO THE SCHOOL

The principal, Mr. Watts, orchestrated my access to the school, endorsed my first proposal, presented it to the superintendent for approval; introduced me to teachers, gave me time at a staff meeting to pitch the project, and helped me send letters to parents. Later he made me a member of the school's site-based management committee and its report card revision committee. Without his help the project could never have been undertaken.

I met him for the first time only a couple of weeks before I began the study. In early September 1992, Mr. Watts had approached one of my colleagues at Virginia Tech, Josiah Tlou, a social studies educator, for advice on how to introduce a global education theme into his school's curriculum. Tlou had asked several of us on the faculty to meet with

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Tangled Up in School: Politics, Space, Bodies, and Signs in the Educational Process
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Sociocultural, Political, and Historical Studies in Education ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • 1 - Adults at Elementary School 1
  • 2 - A Tangle of Cities, Corporations, and Kids 46
  • 3 - Neighborhood Intersections 84
  • 4 - Intersections of Bodies And Spaces at School 119
  • 5 - Intersections of Kids, Signs, and Popular Culture 162
  • 6 - Loose Ends 196
  • 7 - Fieldwork As an Intersection 203
  • References 239
  • Author Index 249
  • Index 251
  • Subject Index 253
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