Learning Privilege: Lessons of Power and Identity in Affluent Schooling, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Learning Privilege

Lessons of Power and Identity in Affluent Schooling, 1st Edition

By Adam Howard


-6 pages

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How can teachers bridge the gap between their commitments to social justice and their day to day practice? This is the question author Adam Howard asked as he began teaching at an elite private school and the question that led him to conduct a six-year study on affluent schooling. Unfamiliar with the educational landscape of privilege and abundance, he began exploring the burning questions he had as a teacher on the lessons affluent students are taught in schooling about their place in the world, their relationships with others, and who they are.

Grounded in an extensive ethnographic account, Learning Privilege examines the concept of privilege itself and the cultural and social processes in schooling that reinforce and regenerate privilege. Howard explores what educators, students and families at elite schools value most in education and how these values guide ways of knowing and doing that both create high standards for their educational programs and reinforce privilege as a collective identity. This book illustrates the ways that affluent students construct their own privilege,not, fundamentally, as what they have, but, rather, as who they are.


"This is an important and easy-to-read account of a subject we often think we know all about—how privilege influences our education. Howard has effectively combined a narrative account with an academic one to help us all relate to the subject. If only I could have read this forty years ago, before I began to tackle this subject in the Central Park East Schools of East Harlem."

--Deborah Meier, currently senior scholar at New York University, author and for 40 years a teacher and principal at ground breaking K-12 public schools

"Howard tells a compelling story of life in elite schools from the perspective of a teacher whose own K-12 experiences had been in rural, impoverished schools. Besides being a keen observer of classroom and school life, Howard documents how he carries out his own mission of challenging his affluent students to rethink their sheltered, elitist views and engage in social justice pursuits. The author balances astute personal reflections as a teacher in elite schools with a sensitive and caring portrayal of students who may come across as arrogant and selfish, yet still face the pain caused by school competition and excessively high parental expectations. "

--Ellen Brantlinger, Professor Emeritus, Curriculum & Instruction Department, Indiana University-Bloomington

Table of Contents

1. Teaching the Affluent 2. Revisioning Privilege 3. In Pursuit of Excellence 4. College-Oriented Desires and Expectations 5. Trust 6. Honoring Traditions 7. Giving Back 8. Outsiders Within 9. Privileged Perceptions of the Subjugated Other 10. Interrupting Privilege. Notes References

About the Author

Adam Howard is Associate Professor of Education at Hanover College and holds a position on the national faculty of Lesley University Graduate School of Education. He is a former private school teacher and director of a nonprofit organization. He has published numerous articles and papers on social class issues in education, privilege, service-learning, and curriculum theory.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Students & Student Life
EDUCATION / Philosophy & Social Aspects