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Escalations in student violence continue throughout the nation, but inner-city schools are the hardest hit, with classrooms and corridors infected by the anger, aggression, and criminality endemic to street life. Technological surveillance, security personnel, and paramilitary control tactics to maintain order and safety are the common administrative response. Essential educational programs are routinely slashed from school budgets, even as the number of guards, cameras, and metal detectors continues to multiply.
Based on years of frontline experience in New York's inner-city schools, Maximum Security demonstrates that such policing strategies are not only ineffectual, they divorce students and teachers from their ethical and behavioral responsibilities. Exploring the culture of violence from within, John Devine argues that the security system, with its uniformed officers and invasive high-tech surveillance, has assumed presumptive authority over students' bodies and behavior, negating the traditional roles of teachers as guardians and agents of moral instruction. The teacher is reduced to an information bureaucrat, a purveyor of technical knowledge, while the student's physical well-being and ethical actions are left to the suspect scrutiny of electronic devices and security specialists with no pedagogical mission, training, or interest. The result is not a security system at all, but an insidious institutional disengagement from the caring supervision of the student body.
With uncompromising honesty, Devine provides a powerful portrayal of an educational system in crisis and bold new insight into the malignant culture of school violence.
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Based on years of frontline experience in New York's inner-city schools, Maximum Security demonstrates that such policing strategies are not only ineffectual, they divorce students and teachers from their ethical and behavioral responsibilities.From Publishers Weekly:
For the last 10 years, Devine, a professor of education at NYU and his battalion of graduate students have tutored "at-risk" students in New York City's most dangerous high schools. Devine does not engage in the popular righteous jeremiads of, say, Jonathan Kozol. Although Devine focuses on academic anthropology rather than provide an anecdotal account of his and his students' fieldwork, the primary material still dominates much of the book?it's just too lively, too hot, too interesting to be overshadowed by the scholarly superstructure. One focus is on "conceptions of space"; and the space of the entry halls and corridors is where Devine (a former Jesuit priest) sees the teachers' abdication of influence and discipline. "I found myself musing over how closely the guards' corridor comportment resembled, in important respects, the friendly teacher-student contacts that might have taken place many years earlier: chatting informally with students, challenging self-destructive behaviors, receiving student confidences, being in touch with the youth sub-culture." In the most controversial aspect of the book, he criticizes teachers' unions and educational systems for encouraging the split within schools between classroom and the corridor; it's an unhealthy and dangerous split, he contends, between mind and body. Although more analytic than prescriptive, Devine does conclude that for violence to diminish in our public schools, teachers need to take back from security personnel the responsibility for discipline and become, again, students' role models. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description University of Chicago Press, 1997. Hard cover. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Very good. No dust jacket. Ex-lib w/only library marks a 1/2" x 2" black felt tip mark to front endpaper & and a pocket to inside of back cover. Red boards w/gilt to spine & contents clean. Seller Inventory # 007127