At a time when debate over school reform commands unprecedented attention, Judith L. Pace argues we must grapple with the underlying challenges of classroom teaching and, at the same time, strive to realize the ideals of democratic education. Building on three qualitative studies in grades four through twelve, The Charged Classroom examines the deeply embedded tensions, escalating pressures, and exciting possibilities of the contemporary American public school classroom. Through detailed descriptions and analyses of social studies and English language arts classrooms, Pace disentangles how teachers and students navigate three charged arenas: academic expectations, discussion of provocative topics, and curricular demands. In each domain, democratic learning opportunities, such as promotion of positive student identity, dialogue across differences, and exploration of conflict, are both opened up and closed down. A passionate and persuasive call for education reform, the book offers crucial insights about the realities of teaching and key recommendations for advancing democratic education in a multicultural society.
In this theoretically sophisticated and empirically grounded book, Judith Pace provides a rich and interesting exploration of how the beliefs and interests of students, the larger school context, and the pedagogy and philosophies of teachers intersect in the "charged classroom." This important book will be an enlightening read for teachers, teacher educators, and researchers who seek to better understand the contours and complexities of democratic education.
--Diana Hess, Senior Vice-President of the Spencer Foundation and Professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison
In a voice that is wise, discerning, and nuanced, Judith Pace offers a rare and provocative view of classroom life, probing the casualties and opportunities, the tensions and contradictions that teachers and their students navigate each day as they create together a multicultural democratic education. The Charged Classroom is at once a practical guide and a prophetic call to action.
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education, Harvard University
Chapter One – A Theoretical Model of the Charged Classroom
Chapter Two – Researcher Identity and Research Projects
Chapter Three – Academic Expectations
Chapter Four – Discussion of Provocative Topics
Chapter Five – Curricular Demands
Chapter Six – Pressures and Possibilities in World History
Chapter Seven – Conclusions and Implications