Wortham, Stanton

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Charles F. Donovan Dean, Boston College Lynch School of Education and Human Development
Stanton Wortham is the Charles F. Donovan, S.J., Dean of the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College. He was formerly the Berkowitz Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his B.A. with highest honors from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Human Development. His research applies techniques from linguistic anthropology to study interaction, learning and leadership development in classrooms and organizations. He has also studied media discourse and autobiographical narrative. Books include Learning Identity, Bullish on Uncertainty and Discourse Analysis beyond the Speech Event. He has most recently done research with Mexican immigrants, exploring the challenges and opportunities facing both newcomers and host communities in places where both Mexican and longstanding resident identities can be more fluid than in areas with a long history of Mexican settlement. This work has yielded films as well as traditional publications. He has been a W.T. Grant Foundation Distinguished Fellow, and he is an American Educational Research Association Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Education. He received the American Educational Research Association Cattell Early Career Research Award and the University of Pennsylvania Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. In both research and practice, he and his colleagues at Boston College are elaborating and implementing a broad vision of “formative education,” in which educators are responsible for fostering the development of whole people, including interrelations among interpersonal, emotional, ethical and spiritual dimensions.
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Now showing 1 - 10 of 80
  • Publication
    Accomplishing Identity in Participant-Denoting Discourse
    (2003-01-01) Wortham, Stanton
    Individuals become socially identified when categories of identity are used repeatedly to characterize them. Speech that denotes participants and involves parallelism between descriptions of participants and the events that they enact in the event of speaking can be a powerful mechanism for accomplishing consistent social identification. This article describes how two different types of participant-denoting speech events—participant examples and autobiographical narratives—can involve such parallelism, in which speakers simultaneously represent and enact analogous social positions and thereby strengthen social identification.
  • Publication
    Life as a Chord: Heterogeneous Resources in the Social Identification of One Migrant Girl
    (2013-01-01) Wortham, Stanton; Rhodes, Catherine R
    The social and natural worlds provide heterogeneous resources that contribute both to instances of social identification and to life trajectories. One might claim or be assigned membership in various groups, which emerge at different spatial and temporal scales, and resources for social identification are often combined in novel ways to yield unexpected identities. To account for the trajectories of identification that any individual travels, analysts must determine which configurations of resources become relevant in a given case. Of the many resources that might be relevant to identifying an individual, event, or setting, a few generally become salient—somewhat like several musical notes coming together to constitute a chord. We illustrate this contingent process by describing one young Mexican migrant in the USA, sketching relevant aspects of family interactions, educational practices, local community characteristics, and national discourses. This girl, her family, and other actors combine heterogeneous resources in contingent ways as they navigate and establish an emerging trajectory of identification through which she becomes a ‘good reader’.
  • Publication
    What Does Philosophy Have to Offer Education, and Who Should Be Offering It?
    (2011-12-01) Wortham, Stanton
    In this review essay Stanton Wortham explores how philosophy of education should both turn inward, engaging with concepts and arguments developed in academic philosophy, and outward, encouraging educational publics to apply philosophical approaches to educational policy and practice. He develops his account with reference to two recent ambitious projects: The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education, edited by Harvey Siegel, and the two-volume yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education (NSSE), titled Why Do We Educate? edited by Gary Fenstermacher (series editor), David Coulter and John Wiens (volume 1), and Mark Smylie (volume 2). These two projects initially appear to be opposed, with the Handbook emphasizing elite philosophy and the Yearbook emphasizing public engagement. Wortham argues that each project is in fact more complex, and that they are in some respects complementary. He concludes by making a case against a simple hierarchy of basic and applied knowledge and calling for a more heterogeneous philosophy of education.
  • Publication
    From Good Student to Outcast: The Emergence of a Classroom Identity
    (2004-01-01) Wortham, Stanton
    The process of social identification draws on heterogeneous resources from several levels of explanation. This article illustrates how, by describing the identity development of one student across an academic year in a ninth-grade classroom. Analyses of transcribed classroom conversations show teachers and students drawing on multiple resources as this student goes from being identified as one of many good students to being identified as a disruptive outcast. This case provides a counterexample to simple theories of identity development that do not recognize the multiple, heterogeneous resources involved in social identification.
  • Publication
    Socialization Beyond the Speech Event
    (2005-01-01) Wortham, Stanton
    Socialization takes place intertextually, across events. This article develops the concept "trajectory of socialization," a connected series of events across which individuals come to participate in forms of life. The empirical analysis follows a trajectory of socialization traveled by one ninth-grade student as she gets socialized into academic life in an urban U.S. school. This student's trajectory illustrates how connections across events emerge contingently, as both local and more widely circulating resources contribute to social identification across time.
  • Publication
    Beyond Macro and Micro in the Linguistic Anthropology of Education
    (2012-06-01) Wortham, Stanton
    This special issue explores whether the heuristics “macro” and “micro” capture the most important levels of explanation in the anthropology of education. Recent work suggests that we must move beyond a macro–micro approach. This introduction sketches reasons for going beyond macro and micro and reviews alternative approaches to explaining cultural and educational processes. The following articles illustrate such alternatives and develop their own arguments about macro, micro, and other relevant scales.
  • Publication
    Situated Identities of Young, African American Fathers in Low-Income Urban Settings
    (2003-07-01) Gadsden, Vivian; Wortham, Stanton; Turner, Herbert M
    Young, low-income, African American fathers have been at the center of research, practice, and policy on families over the past decade. This article uses a "voicing" analytic technique to examine identities among young, low-income, African American fathers living in an urban setting; the intersections of these identities; and the fathers' perceptions of the influences of familial, peer, and legal systems as barriers and resources in their development as fathers and the sustainability of their fathering roles. The primary questions addressed urban fathers' representations of their transition to fatherhood, intergenerational relationships, transformative events, and visions of a possible self. Results from a survey, focus groups, and interviews suggest that the fathers seek to reinvent themselves and reconstruct their identities by separating from street life, redefine home as a place of stability, and challenge the practices of social and legal systems that appear to work against their responsible fathering.
  • Publication
    Representation and Enactment in Autobiographical Narrative
    (2001-01-01) Wortham, Stanton
    Speech is multifunctional, both communicating denotational content and establishing interactional positions for interlocu-tors. In some cases, the denotational and interactional func-tions of speech interrelate and even depend on each other. This paper describes a type of speech event in which the interrela-tions between denotation and interaction are particularly sali-ent—autobiographical narratives in which the events described and the relationships enacted run parallel. Further study of such speech events promises to illuminate how the denota-tional and interactional functions of speech can sometimes contribute to each other.
  • Publication
    Helping Immigrants Identify as "University-Bound Students": Unexpected Difficulties in Teaching the Hidden Curriculum
    (2010-09-01) Mortimer, Katherine; Wortham, Stanton; Allard, Elaine
    Globalization has brought rapid migration to many regions previously unfamiliar with immigration. In these changing landscapes long-time residents must make sense of their new neighbors, and immigrants must adjust to hosts’ ideas about them and develop their own accounts of a new social context. How immigrants are viewed and how they view themselves have important implications for their future prospects-especially in schools, where students are measured against normative models of success. Yet as members of cultural and linguistic minority groups, and often as people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, immigrant students may not be aware of these models that are typically part of the implicit or hidden curriculum. Realizing this, secondary school educators in one American town tried to help immigrant students adopt a normative model of identity, the «university-bound student,» by teaching them explicitly how such a person should behave. Their well-intentioned efforts at teaching the hidden curriculum did not work, however. Immigrant students recognized and valued the identity, but neither they nor their teachers believed that the students could adopt it themselves. Using ethnographic data and discourse analyses of curricular materials and classroom interaction, we describe how this program failed to work. We argue that this occurred in part because the intervention was based upon a conception of culture and identity as static and homogenous. We show how a more complex account of culture and identity –as circulatory, multiple, and heterogeneously evaluated– explains this failure and suggests how such an intervention could be more successful.