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Popular Educational Classics

A Reader

Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis

The last half century has created deep tensions in how we analyze educational and social change. Educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens have had to cope with competing belief systems in evaluating and acting upon school policies and practices. This illuminating book untangles many of the roots of those persistent debates that have divided the nation for so long. It offers readers a critical opportunity to reflect on our continuing ideological struggles by examining popular books that have made a difference in educational discourse.
The editor has specifically selected key books on social and educational controversies that speak to wide audiences. They frame contextual issues that so-called «school reformers» have often neglected – much to the detriment of any real educational progress. Ultimately, this text is meant to stir our consciences, to disorder our certainties, and to compel us to treat education and culture with both reason and passion. It is highly relevant for courses in social foundations of education, school reform, educational policy studies, philosophy of education, history of education, politics of education, curriculum studies, and teacher education.
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Chapter Nine: Dan Lortie, Schoolteacher: A Sociological Study (1975)


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Dan Lortie, Schoolteacher: A Sociological Study (1975)

Jean Ann Foley and Joseph C. Wegwert


Dan Lortie’s Schoolteacher (1975) presents a sociological study of teachers’ socialization into the profession and the nature of teachers’ thinking and work. The book builds on Waller’s discussion in The Sociology of Teaching (1932) of what the occupation of teaching does to teachers and Jackson’s Life in Classrooms (1968), which describes the nature of teachers’ working lives and the pressures of decision making within the classroom. Lortie examines the teaching profession with the intention of revealing pervasive patterns and themes that drive the occupation. His study compares the themes rooted in the history of the American schoolteacher with his research of 94 teacher interviews (the sample he called “Five Towns”) and in comparison with other occupations. The major argument from Lortie’s study is that three orientations of the teaching profession—Presentism, Individualism, and Conservatism—form a teacher ethos that binds the occupation and impedes change and improvement.


The nine chapters of Lortie’s Schoolteacher are divided into four themes: American Education History; Occupational Perpetuations; Teacher Meanings Associated with Their Work; and Forecasts for the Future. In our synopsis of the book, we briefly describe the arguments associated with each theme and link them to the three orientations that form Lortie’s teacher ethos. ← 91 | 92 →

American Education History (Chapter 1)

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