chapter  2
24 Pages

Surface Depths

American depictions of high schools are replete with images of homecoming dances, pep rallies, athletic games won and lost, and students draped in medieval caps and gowns at graduation ceremonies. Classrooms are recalled as places where teachers deliver their subject matter in dull or inspiring ways and students amuse themselves with playful antics as they learn more serious lessons. Underlying the imagery is what Metz (1990) refers to as a “basic common script for ‘The American High School’” (p. 77). Students, according to the script, are offered similar classes where they are taught standard curriculum, differenttiated according to their abilities and interests. Their roles and those of teachers are similarly defined, as are the outlines of classroom plots.