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Palgrave Macmillan

Children's Bodies in Schools

Corporeal Performances of Social Class

ISBN 9781137442628
Publication Date June 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Pivot
Series The Cultural and Social Foundations of Education

How do teachers "read" children's body language, and what are the consequences of these (mis)interpretations? Using Pierre Bourdieu's work in the construction of social class, together with Annette Lareau's work on how social class influences the child-rearing practices of parents, Henry argues that children raised in working-class homes come to elementary school with different, largely underappreciated, corporeal capacities. The middle-class corporeal practices of elementary school (hands to yourself, raise your hand to speak, stay in straight lines) require working-class children to adopt middle-class corporeal performances in order to demonstrate that they have achieved self-control, a significant mechanism by which some bodies are validated in society and vilified in others. Henry argues that curricula aimed at helping teachers teach poor children predisposes them to see poor children's corporeal performance from deeply classed positions that maintain cycles of social reproduction in schools rather than interrupting them.

Sue Ellen Henry is Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Teaching and Learning Center at Bucknell University, USA.

1. Children's Bodies and Corporeal Expectations of Schooling
2. Social Class Inequities and the Body
3. Theoretical Frameworks for Understanding Social Class Corporeality
4. Corporeal Implications of Contemporary Schooling Practices


"Sue Ellen Henry is mapping new territory that centers the arguments surrounding body/embodiment and foregrounds social class. This book presents substantial literature reviews that will introduce readers to work that has been conducted in these areas. It is very promising, timely, and exciting." – Stephanie Jones, Associate Professor of Elementary and Social Studies Education, University of Georgia, USA
"Henry raises new and timely questions about how working class children's bodies are interpreted, disciplined, and controlled through neoliberal educational approaches to education. Henry's research explores how teachers read students' body language, and the connections between how teachers interpret students' bodies and how they interpret students' themselves. Henry's investigation into these questions is a must-read for all those concerned with education and social justice." - Jennifer Trainor, Associate Professor of English, San Francisco State University, USA
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