Improving Learning Environments: School Discipline and Student Achievement in Comparative Perspective

Improving Learning Environments: School Discipline and Student Achievement in Comparative Perspective

Improving Learning Environments: School Discipline and Student Achievement in Comparative Perspective

Improving Learning Environments: School Discipline and Student Achievement in Comparative Perspective

Synopsis

Improving Learning Environments provides the first systematic comparative cross-national study of school disciplinary climates. In this volume, leading international social science researchers explore nine national case studies to identify the institutional determinants of variation in school discipline, the possible links between school environments and student achievement, as well as the implications of these findings for understanding social inequality.

As the book demonstrates, a better understanding of school discipline is essential to the formation of effective educational policies. Ultimately, to improve a school's ability to contribute to youth socialization and student internalization of positive social norms and values, any changes in school discipline must not only be responsive to behavior problems but should also work to enhance the legitimacy and moral authority of school actors.

Excerpt

In a series of lectures at the beginning of the 20th century (1902–1903), Emile Durkheim (1973 [1925]) argued for the centrality of school discipline in the process of youth socialization. According to Durkheim, school confronts youth as the first nonfamilial social institution (other than in some cases religion) that teaches students that there are external social norms, values, and rules that structure social interaction. Youth who internalize these norms and values are more likely to demonstrate conventional behaviors associated with productive employment and citizenship as adults, whereas the failure of schools and families to instill these values and norms in children is associated with delinquency, crime, and other outcomes at odds with the goals of these social institutions. While school discipline plays a role in allowing learning to occur and permitting educators to teach in work settings that are safe and professionally conducive to teaching, Durkheim (1973 [1925]) argued that school discipline was “not a simple device for securing superficial peace in the classroom” but, more important, “an instrument—difficult to duplicate—of moral education” (148–49).

Sociologists in particular have been interested in the role of school disciplinary environments in shaping individual student outcomes. Although discipline has long been recognized as a central feature of successful schools, researchers in recent decades have given relatively scant attention to comparative studies on this critical topic. Comparative research on school discipline is especially important at this time because we need to know more about how schools vary systematically in their approaches to discipline and how youth development varies with respect to school context. Such knowledge gives policy makers a sound empirical basis for the formation of . . .

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