Thursday, April 11, 2024

Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 7 p.m.

Livestream link coming soon

Scripting the Moves: Culture and Control in a No-Excuses School

Joanne Golann, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education at Peabody
College, Vanderbilt University

Silent, single-file lines. Detention for putting a head on a desk. Rules for how to dress, how to applaud, how to complete homework. Walk into some of the most acclaimed urban schools today and you will find similar recipes of behavior, designed to support student achievement. But what do these “scripts” accomplish? Immersing readers inside a “noexcuses” charter school, Scripting the Moves offers a telling window into an expanding model of urban education reform. Through interviews with students, teachers, administrators, and parents, and analysis of documents and data, Golann reveals that such schools actually dictate too rigid a level of social control for both teachers and their predominantly low-income Black and Latino students. Despite good intentions, scripts constrain the development of important interactional skills and reproduce some of the very inequities they mean to disrupt.

Golann presents a fascinating, sometimes painful, account of how no-excuses schools use scripts to regulate students and teachers. She shows why scripts were adopted, what purposes they serve, and where they fall short. What emerges is a complicated story of the benefits of scripts, but also, their limitations in cultivating the tools students need to navigate college and other complex social institutions—tools such as flexibility, initiative, and ease with adults. A book sale and signing will follow the presentation.

This program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology.

Biography (provided by the speaker)

Photo of Joanne GolannJoanne W. Golann is an associate professor of public policy and education at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. As a sociologist and an ethnographer, she examines how schools and families transmit cultural skills, behaviors, and habits to children. Her research has been featured in The New York Times, Education Week, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and The Guardian. She has received multiple awards for her book, including the 2022  Bourdieu Award for Best Book in the Sociology of Education from the American Sociological Association. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University.