Classroom Power Relations: Understanding Student-Teacher Interaction

By Mary Phillips Manke | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
How Is It Useful to Look at Classrooms in This Way?
The last four chapters of this book have explored several questions in the context of an interactive constructivist theory of power relations:
How do teacher choices about the physical organization of classrooms and the kinds of activities that take place in them contribute to the construction of power relations?
Why and how do teachers cloak their contributions to power relations behind politeness formulas and indirect discourse strategies?
What kinds of student and teacher actions contribute to defining what is to count as classroom knowledge in a particular classroom at a particular time?
What student actions can be understood as being in conflict with teachers' arrangements of classroom time and space?
What student actions can be understood as seeking to make the teachers's agenda visible so it can be challenged?
What kinds of student actions can be understood as their efforts to create areas within power relations in which they can act freely?

The study on which this book is based makes a start at answering such questions, and suggests what kinds of analysis can produce more complete answers. The individual qualities of the three classrooms, with their teachers and students, as described in chapters 2, 3, and 4, must be kept in mind in thinking about the details of the analysis. The study belongs to a research genre that calls on readers to make judgments about the validity of its conclusions. By providing "thick description" ( Geertz, 1973) of the three

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