Classrooms as Communities
This chapter analyses the behaviorist legacies of classroom management, discipline, and control as well as an alternative perspective that promotes caring relationships and democratic communities. A critical perspective helps to identify the authoritarian tendencies that pervade public schools and diminish constructive action; without a critical perspective, behaviorist strategies—like using rewards, punishments and threats of failure—may remain persuasive. Through character training and strictly enforced discipline, schools aimed to extinguish the threatening foreign ways that immigrant children brought to school and to replace them with the habits, manners, and loyalties considered necessary for proper American life. By the 1960s, teachers were learning in their teacher education programs that poor children were "culturally deprived," in part because they came from "disorganized" families that failed to teach punctuality, obedience, respect for personal property, or the value of education. Zero tolerance may create the illusion that schools are addressing disruptive behavior.