Class(ed)Room: Individualized Student Disciplinary Policies as Ignoring the Current Economic Order

Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Kanthie Athukorala

Second Advisor

Nikoi Kote-Nikoi


Students are socialized into the institution of education at an early age. Obedience to authority is the objective of much of the learning done in school. Teacher expectations and perceptions of students affect student behavioral and academic performance within the context of school. Student economic and material conditions affect their availability for learning in the school setting. This research questions the application of discipline policies across a student body with diverse academic, economic and social histories. In this case study of one rural Vermont school - tracking, teacher expectations and student economic, academic and behavioral history are assessed for correlation. Analysis of the application of discipline across diverse students is the main research topic.

Within this small context, discipline is based on individual teacher tolerance and perception. Along with obedience, individual competition plays an important role in the life of young students. Students are required to take individual responsibility for their behavior, which is seen as being heavily affected by their lives outside of school. Students with “problems outside of school” are disciplined most often. While attempting to promote positive social behavior, teacher and administrator ideologies at School X, whether intentional or not, more often take a stance of ‘blaming the victim’. Rather than seeing behavioral issues as a side effect of life outside of school, teachers expect students to leave those life issues outside the classroom. Teachers low expectations of lower tracked students are often acted out in the classroom, communicated to the student, and are met with actions here deemed as self-fulfilling prophecies.

Key words: Discipline, teacher expectations, self-fulfilling prophecies in the classroom, class relations, individual disciplinary policies, hierarchies within schools, blaming the victim


Disability and Equity in Education | Educational Methods | Junior High, Intermediate, Middle School Education and Teaching | Secondary Education and Teaching | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education | Special Education and Teaching

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