Cover: Learning Lessons: Social Organization in the Classroom, from Harvard University PressCover: Learning Lessons in E-DITION

Learning Lessons

Social Organization in the Classroom

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Product Details


$65.00 • €48.00

ISBN 9780674420106

Publication Date: 06/01/1979

227 pages



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Upon entering school, children begin to acquire the facts and skills the curriculum offers. They also learn what it is to be students, and how to play their roles in the social circumstances of the classroom. Learning Lessons is about this subtle sort of learning that allows the child to become a socially competent participant in the daily life of a class.

Based upon a year of videotaped observations of one inner-city first grade, Hugh Mehan’s book provides a detailed, ethnomethodological analysis of the tacit rules that organize the social interactions of the classroom. Mehan shows how children gradually come to honor these rules without either explicit instruction or conscious awareness. He also provides a revealing analysis of the strategies used by both teacher and student to correct violations of the rules.

The result is a new understanding of the social fabric of the classroom and the means by which it is achieved. At a time when the optimal social organization of the classroom is a matter of much debate and when, in beleaguered schools, such organization often breaks down, it is particularly important to have a clear description of the interactional processes that form the building blocks of classroom organization. Learning Lessons offers such a description at an unprecedented level of detail. Anyone interested in the mechanics of the classroom, either from the inside or the outside, will find this a stimulating and useful book.