1st Edition

The Feral Classroom

By James Macpherson Copyright 1983
    254 Pages
    by Routledge

    First published in 1983, The Feral Classroom argues that the experience of schooling needs to be understood in terms of peer interaction in the classroom. Students’ interaction mediates the significance of the curriculum and teacher, and is, in its own right, a major agent of socialisation.

    The study reported in the book was conducted in an Australian state high school. It employs ethnographic techniques focused on students’ accounts of relations and activities with classmates. Concepts embodied in these accounts are interpreted through models of school and peer group as agents of socialisation.

    The volume fills several gaps. It is the first book to describe at length students’ accounts of classroom interaction; to give equal weight to boys’ and girls’ accounts; and to describe dominant students’ determination of the use of classroom norms and of the definition of performances. This book will appeal to a wide range of readers including, but not limited to, teachers, educational administrators, and sociologists.  

    Introduction  1. School and peer group as agents of socialisation  2. The research population  3. Students’ control systems  4. Mucking around  5. Intrusion of external statuses and associations  6. Stirrers and clowns  7. Teacher authority and student control  8. Diffuse relations with teachers  9. Students’ construction and management of academic status  10. Teacher particularism  11. Students’ evaluation of classroom seating position  12. Conclusions  Appendix A Student interviews  Appendix B Conditions and permit for research  Appendix C A girls’ classroom note


    James Macpherson, at the time of the first publication, was a Research Fellow at Massey University in New Zealand. He was educated at Dalhousie University in Canada, and the Universities of Western Australia and Queensland.