Anatomy of a Book Controversy

By Wayne Homstad | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
THE ROLE OF THE SCHOOL
IN SOCIETY

The experiences of the Go Ask Alice controversy may be useful in broader ways than simply the processing of future book protests. I have proceeded from a view of the institution, according to the terms provided by Besag and Nelson ( 1984), as "any construct, organization, beliefs, or being that has become identified with an historically expected set of purposes and behaviors." This study of the Go Ask Alice controversy disclosed many differences in philosophy, process, and intention by the players as the controversy was processed by the institution. Those differences — how those individuals and others inside and outside the institution view the institution and their roles in it — affect the role of the school in society.

For example, the tension created by the various views of the controversy — a side issue for the superintendent, career-threatening for the teacher — is representative of that general tension that seems to be intrinsic in superordinate-subordinate relationships. That same tension is mirrored in the responses to the controversy. The solutions to the problem that were acceptable to teachers proved to be unacceptable to administrators, and vice versa. At root, these tension-producing differences exemplify a broader difference in how the teachers and administrators view the role of the school (in particular its educative function) in society.

Greenstone and Peterson ( 1983) described the administrator‐ teacher (superordinate-subordinate) tension as a product of the

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