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Using ambiguity and entertainment to win compliance in a lower-level US History class

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This paper examines the dynamics of authority relationships and curriculum enactment in a lower-level, college-preparatory US History class. It explains how a teacher and his students construct a relaxed order shaped by uncertain educational goals, the use of entertainment, and students' wants. Ambiguity and entertainment in the teacher's practise signal tensions within the school's moral order, and reflect the values of egalitarianism, individualism, and anti-intellectualism. This approach wins compliance and popularity; it also perpetuates ambivalence towards schooling and low investment in educational aims.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00220270210157597

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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