Date of Award

Spring 1990

Project Type


Program or Major

Reading and Writing Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This dissertation addresses the question, "How are the values of the people who comprise a classroom manifested there?" The results of this ethnographic study are reported in descriptive narrative and cover events which took place in a grade five classroom over a period of four and a half months.

The body of the narrative entails events in an experiential learning environment in which the teaching of content area curriculum was accompanied by numerous field trips and other hands-on activities. Moreover, lessons intended to raise the children's awareness of environment, community, ethics and values were also taught.

This study concludes that teachers are bound by their own values and experiences; that unless there is a major shift in a teacher's values, no other change in his or her teaching is truly possible; and that, since what children learn is dependent on their experience and values, we cannot predict which lessons have been learned. For this reason, it is important for teachers to be closely in touch with children and predicate their teaching on what they learn about the children from the children rather than on a decontextualized curriculum. Further connections are drawn between what is taught in a particular classroom and the socioeconomic population served with specific reference to the classroom portrayed in Among Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder.