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Teacher Education and Practice, a peer-refereed journal, is dedicated to the encouragement and the dissemination of research and scholarship related to professional education. The journal is concerned, in the broadest sense, with teacher preparation, practice and policy issues related to the teaching profession, as well as being concerned with learning in the school setting. The journal also serves as a forum for the exchange of diverse ideas and points of view within these purposes. As a forum, the journal offers a public space in which to critically examine current discourse and practice as well as engage in generative dialogue. Alternative forms of inquiry and representation are invited, and authors from a variety of backgrounds and diverse perspectives are encouraged to contribute. Teacher Education & Practice is published by Rowman & Littlefield.

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Editorial: Democracy and the Priorities for Teacher Education—John Dewey Revisited

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PATRICK M. JENLINK

It is not enough to argue that democratic values are as important as traditional academic priorities. We must also ask what kind of democratic values. What political and ideological interests are embedded in or easily attached to varied conceptions of citizenship? Varied priorities—personal responsibility, participatory citizenship and justice-oriented citizenship—embody significantly different beliefs regarding the capacities and commitments that citizens need for democracy to flourish; and they carry significantly different implications for pedagogy, curriculum, evaluation, and educational policy.

—Wesheimer and Kahne (2004, p. 263)

Democracy, in its deepest meaning, is an educational undertaking. Learning to teach and teaching are two critical dimensions of this undertaking, both concerned with preparing students for democratic responsibilities in schools. In this sense, teaching for democracy is more than good teaching. Teaching committed to realizing democracy is “faced with two tasks: negotiating increasingly undemocratic systems in order to find space for democratic teaching, and critically examining what democracy is, including gaps between its ideas and actual practice” (Sleeter, 2008, p. 141). Teaching must take on the role of developing democracy and democratic-minded citizens. Teachers must work with students to help them “cultivate knowledge, intellectual tools, and experience working across diverse viewpoints and identities to address shared concerns” (p. 155). That said, it is important that we understand, with a clear commitment, that the decisions we make as teacher educators designing and researching teacher education programs influence politically important outcomes regarding the ways that preservice teachers understand the strengths and weaknesses of our society and its schools, the nature of the teaching–learning relationship needed to teach in a democratic society, and the ways that individuals, upon entering classrooms as teachers, should act as citizens in a democracy.

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John Dewey and School Culture: A Case Study of the South Boulevard Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet

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HEATHER K. OLSON BEAL

ABSTRACT: This ethnographic case study explores school culture through the lens of Dewey’s (1915/2001) belief in the importance of creating schools with a sense of community in which all members are indispensable to the whole. Three aspects of the foreign language immersion curriculum at South Boulevard Elementary lead to a culture of community: commitment to a common curricular theme (foreign language immersion), quality of interpersonal relationships among members of the school community (teachers, students, and parents), and pedagogical strategies necessitated by the immersion curriculum. Findings from this research include implications for future research in teacher education, such as the ways in which curriculum influences school culture, the importance of training teachers to have high expectations of all students, and the impact of size on school culture and student achievement.

In the introduction to The School and Society, Dewey (1915/2001) wrote the following regarding the purpose of schools:

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Social Studies Education and Preservice Teacher Preparation: Confronting the Participant–Subject Paradigm

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PAUL T. PARKISON

ABSTRACT: Teachers’ recognition of the political and cultural implications of their pedagogical decisions is significant. Teachers need to recognize the role they play in the facilitation of democracy and the impact of their orientation toward cultural reproduction, social integration, and personal awareness. Political engagement rests on the assumption that teachers recognize and value their role as being inherently political. To determine if democratic engagement can be developed, a case study of preservice teachers was conducted. Democratic engagement begins by raising awareness of the issues relevant to the role of the teacher and the structure and function of the curriculum. Using the reflections and responses of preservice teachers participating in this case study provided useful data indicating the assumptions that many teachers take into their role as teachers in social studies classrooms.

Social studies education represents a primary mechanism for the development of a democratic civic culture and, according to political scientists, a key source for the transmission of political values and beliefs (Schlozman & Verba, 1995; Verba & Schlozman, 1993; Verba, Schlozman, & Brady, 1995). In recent years, the move toward emphasizing test scores as the primary outcome metric (Parkison, 2009b) has led to a de-emphasis of social studies within the elementary- and middle-level curriculum. It is a subject area that is not tested in many states, and it is one that frequently suffers in terms of resource allocation when compared to math and science education in terms of district dollars spent. The social and political consequences of poor social studies instruction should not be underestimated. In this context, the learning that occurs within social studies classes has become what Dewey (1916) would have classified as miseducative learning. Learning that is miseducative leads students to become sidetracked with meaningless rote memorization and decontextualized facts while losing sight of the deep learning that could and should be occurring. The loss of this deep and discipline-based learning has profound consequences for the civic engagement of future citizens.

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Dialogues of Teacher Education: Teacher Education Priorities for a Democratic Society

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PATRICK M. JENLINK

Editor’s Note: With the Dialogues of Teacher Education section in Teacher Education and Practice, we invite our readers to join us in a venture to create a venue for giving voice to difficult problems of the day. Specifically, our purpose is to bring individuals together and engage in a meaningful, critical examination of selected topics that concern teacher educators and practitioners. We hope you enjoy the dialogue of the current issue, “Teacher Education Priorities for a Democratic Society,” and that our contributing authors stimulate important and needed conversations among teacher educators, practitioners, policymakers, and other cultural workers concerned with improving teacher education and practice.

What are the priorities of teacher education for a democratic society? In today’s society, preparing teachers for schools and classrooms necessarily requires a focus on the challenges of living in a democracy, and it simultaneously emphasizes the difficult responsibility that teachers have—particularly in the face of partisan politics, the threat of global war, and the lull of better times in bygone eras. Being a teacher in today’s society is about advanced citizenship; it means that teachers must be prepared to be socially responsible citizens. Teacher education then means, in part, individuals learning to engage in citizenship; equally important, it means practicing citizenship if we are to have a public ready to bridge the distance between the promise and reality of democracy.

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Democracy, Moral Imagination, and the Development of Responsibility: New Cornerstones for Teacher Education

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DONALD S. BLUMENFELD-JONES

To answer the prompting question about what teachers need for their work in a democratic society, I must first tell you what I think constitutes a democratic society. John Dewey (1916) defined democracy as “more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience” (p. 87). In such a society, a premium is placed on paying attention to our interrelationships and how we communicate about important social issues. In a democracy, people must decide what constitutes the public good, what projects to pursue to fulfill that good, and how to actually do those projects. Whether it is roads, homes, food supply, or support of medical, scientific, poetic research, and more, people must deliberate about how society will address these issues. Furthermore, as Dewey wrote, “each person has to refer his [sic] own action to that of others, and to consider the action of others to give point and direction to his own” (p. 87). To expand our own possibilities, we must learn to modify our own actions in the light of what others are doing. The more numerous and varied contacts we have, the more liberated our powers become. Through such interactions and encounters we are afforded resources for expanding our own selves and activities. Liberation is connected with recognizing our connection to diverse others. Liberation of self and society is the point of democracy.

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Thoughts on Teacher Education and Democracy

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ROBERT V. BULLOUGH JR.

Students always learn more and less than intended in school. In the 1920s and 1930s, this insight lead to interest in concomitant learnings—what would be recognized two generations later as the hidden, or implicit, curriculum and the null curriculum. Critics generally thought these curricula concerned negative practices. In fact, for many curriculum scholars of the 1970s and 1980s, these terms called attention to the way in which schooling supported corporate values and how, quietly (and sometimes not so quietly), schools went about preparing the young to fit into a capitalist society. To be sure, curriculum guides often included (and still include) lofty goal statements about the importance of educating the young for democratic citizenship, but over time these aims have mostly been taken for granted, and vocational aspirations have dominated school practice. The essence of good citizenship is generally thought to be a matter of voting and staying employed; that is, school has little to do with democracy, except that every young person has to attend for a time.

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Democracy, Teacher Education, and John Dewey: A Personal Perspective

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CHERYL J. CRAIG

When the invitation to contribute to this special issue of Teacher Education and Practice came along, I could not help but be transported to my experiences of teacher education in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, about 1,200 miles north of Houston, Texas, where I currently live and work. In my Introduction to Teaching course, I (a degree-after BEd student) became intimately acquainted with the work of John Dewey through a close reading of and reflective responding to “My Pedagogical Creed” (1897), Education and Experience (1938), and “The School and Society” and “The Child and Curriculum” (1900). At that time, I came to know about inquiry, the critical difference between activity and experience, and how pivotal the experiential continuum is to education—indeed, life—concepts that became further solidified in my master’s, doctoral, and postdoctoral degree programs that followed. I also implicitly understood that a democratic society had enabled me to attend university—the first person in my family to do so (and from a high school that had no counselor!). Of course, my classmates and I grumbled about our teacher preparation program’s focus and griped about the lack of attention paid to specific content and curricular documents. But our professors maintained their positions: They were preparing us for careers in education—the continuum, so to speak—not for particular years instructing specific grades in a certain province.

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Critical Democracy in Teacher Education

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CHRISTOPHER B. CROWLEY

MICHAEL W. APPLE

Underpinning many of the ongoing debates over the means and ends of teacher education are serious differences about the purposes of education in general and about the relationship between schooling and a democratic society in particular. We should not be surprised that these discussions often get heated; it has long been recognized that the processes of teaching and schooling are inherently political. At stake in these debates is the nature of what counts as democracy, a word with multiple political meanings. In essence, we can distinguish what might be called thin versus thick democracy, with the former usually being based on commitments to the private good and to choice on a market and with the latter often seen as being more fully participatory and collective (Apple, 2006). The priorities that we as teacher educators assign in our preparation and guidance of teachers for their work in a society riven with growing inequalities largely depend on where we stand on the thin–thick distinction.

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Democracy and Teacher Education: Setting Priorities

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JESSE H. GOODMAN

As John Dewey noted in his last book, each generation, in its turn, must assume responsibility as caretaker of our democracy. He noted that we should never take our democracy for granted. We live in an imperfect democracy, and as teacher educators, we should play our part in protecting, nurturing, and advancing our democratic ideals, rituals, values, and structures. Of course, what does it mean to manifest this responsibility through our work in the preparation of teachers? Given the limitations of space, this article addresses several interconnected priorities for teacher educators to consider.

Intellectual Engagement

From a democratic perspective, the central purpose of teacher education—and all educational efforts, for that matter—is to intellectually engage students. Teacher education might be viewed as a time when future teachers get the opportunity to explore their thinking (individually and with others) about children, learning, pedagogy, curriculum (its development and substance), power, and the relationship between schooling and society, among other topics. As Dewey stated, successful teacher preparation encourages future teachers to become students of education, people who are always curious, experimental, and thoughtful about their work and the children/society whom they serve. Intellectual engagement suggests that teacher educators and their students take a thoughtful and stimulating journey together into the complexities of educating our children. It is extremely difficult to create and maintain a democratic society unless the population is well educated, thoughtful, and open-minded. As educators, we would be wise to make the intellectual engagement of future teachers a top priority.

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Democracy Is . . . Unlikely

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AMY C. MCANINCH

Theorizing about teacher education and democracy is a challenging task in the year 2009. The antidemocratic forces of the social efficiency movement have intensified with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. Recent activities of the Obama Department of Education have ratcheted up social efficiency’s premise that teacher education is part of a system of manufacture and that teachers are a product. Practices such as value-added assessment are right in line with the ideology developed a century ago by Ellwood Cubberley to factoryize the school systems. We can imagine how he would have relished the idea that students’ test scores could be tied to their teachers’ preparation program. Today our daily work as a profession is bogged down, documenting that manufacturing process through Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium portfolios, state reports, and accreditation reviews.

To understand why, it is useful to refer to the work of one of the most important educational theorists of the first half of the 20th century, George Counts. As a historian of education, Counts (1968) provided an astute analysis of the evolution of teacher education from its normal school roots. He pointed out that one of the most important structural developments in teacher education is the preparation of elementary school teachers in separate single-purpose institutions called normal schools. Separate from universities, these schools functioned to train teachers in elementary school subject matter and methods—with a big emphasis on methods.

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Priorities That Should Guide Teacher Education in a Democracy

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ELIZABETH MEADOWS

My background as a teacher educator and parent informs the five major priorities that, in my view, should guide teacher education in preparing teachers for their work in a democratic society. I am a teacher educator in a university born from and sustained by students’ and faculty members’ motives to use education as a transformative force to realize life dreams and help enact social justice.

My work involves teaching preservice elementary teachers courses in methods, foundations, and field experiences that are situated both in the university and in schools. I have taught in public schools as a classroom teacher and as a partner to urban public school teachers in implementing robust mathematics curricula and discussion practices that promote democratic practices and students’ critical thinking skills. My daughter, who attends middle school, regularly informs me about her school experiences and opinions about her teachers. My husband and I purposely chose to raise our daughter in a diverse community with a school district renowned for its commitment to valuing this diversity and teaching all students well.

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Realizing the Democratic Ideal: A Call for an Integrative Approach to Inclusion of Multicultural Course Content in Teacher Education Programs

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PHYLLIS METCALF-TURNER

The American public education system continues to be challenged by a myriad of persisting issues that have the potential to threaten the foundation upon which it was established—the principles of democracy. The eminent penalties associated with high-stakes testing, the emergence and potential dominance of the charter school movement, and the increased federal support of nonpublic education have individually and collectively contributed to the unhealthy state in which we currently find our public schools. Within this historical context, the colleges and schools of education that are entrusted with training future teachers are forced to address many of these issues. However, one of the recurring and most daunting is the continued slow or little progress that has occurred in student achievement, particularly for poor and minority students.

Public schools in the United States continue to struggle with providing successful academic experiences for the majority of its students from low socioeconomic, racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse backgrounds—this despite the numerous and sometimes costly reforms that have been implemented during the past 20-plus years, aimed at addressing and reversing the school failure of poor and minority students. The increasing demographic changes currently reflected in the United States and in today’s public schools emphasize the need for teacher education programs to improve future teachers’ knowledge development and exposure to a broader array of instructional practices so that they become better prepared to help students achieve and succeed academically.

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In Pursuit of Democratic Practices in Teacher Education

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H. RICHARD MILNER IV

DARRELL CLEVELAND

As evident in the title of this article, we want to suggest that democracy in U.S. society and, consequently, teacher education is an ideal that has yet to be fully realized and actualized. We are defining democracy in teacher education as an ideal and a tool to critically engage students in difficult and controversial issues related to power relations, matters of identity, social justice, and social transformation (Carr, 2008). Similar to individuals in U.S. society, teacher educators must pursue—that is, work toward—democracy to prepare teachers for civic engagement and responsibility and for the arduous task of developing equitable curriculum and learning opportunities. Moreover, teacher education programs must prepare teachers for ethically and morally grounded decision making for students, all students, in preK–12 contexts. Societal pressures, norms, and expectations sometimes overshadow the principles espoused by the founding fathers of the United States regarding democracy. For instance, capitalism and the quest for material possessions sometimes take precedence over moral and ethical decisions. Ideas of competition and a permeating theme of meritocracy also make it difficult for those in society to deeply understand, embrace, and invest in students who have been marginalized and disenfranchised in, from, and through education systems.

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Teacher Education in a Democratic Society

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EMILY ROBERTSON

Members of a democratic polity should be prepared to participate in the practices of democratic governance if they are fully to enjoy their rights as citizens and discharge their civic responsibilities. Although such participation can be narrowly conceived—as satisfied by voting, for example—my vision is more expansive (Robertson, 2008).1 Like John Dewey (1916/1966), I conceive of democracy as “a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience” (p. 87). Unsuccessful efforts to export democracy to countries unaccustomed to it tend to show that democratic governance ultimately rests on the daily, mundane practices of citizens. Democratic dispositions are formed as citizens meet in a variety of settings not only to determine the goods they want to pursue together but to negotiate the differences that divide them. In political action groups, school board meetings, churches, neighborhood associations, volunteer organizations, and politically engaged conversations with friends and neighbors, citizens develop and express the habits of the heart of a democratic polity (Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler, & Tepton, 1985).

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Turning Points: Priorities for Teacher Education in a Democracy

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ROSALIE M. ROMANO

Every generation has its moment, some turning point that will mark its place in the historical record. Such points provide the direction of our history and our future. Turning points are, characteristically, times of turmoil based on a fundamental change in models or events—what Thomas Kuhn called a paradigm shift.

In terms of a democratic society, the ebb and flow of e pluribus unum has been a tug-of-war between the public and the private, between the common good and the individual, between federal and state rights. Out of many, one continues to challenge our democratic society in the 21st century; the world of 1776 is in a new millennium, which poses challenges for us all, together. A new turning point has begun, even as we continue to struggle with the old. That turning point we face is the crisis of the earth and all life that it supports.

Cartoonist Harry Bliss (2008) drew our attention to this point in his depiction of our society: A CEO stands in his plush office on the top floor of a skyscraper, looking down on a metropolitan city with pollution emanating from industrial chimneys, with traffic jams and urban decay, with slick sports stadiums, luxury hotels, and shiny stores beckoning consumers. His arm is around the shoulders of a small boy, and he is telling him, “Someday, son, this will be yours . . . sorry.” The image contrasts the separateness of the well-appointed office above and the populace below, the rich and the poor, both of whom are breathing the polluted air, capturing the struggle of our times, pushing us to ask ourselves who we are and to what and whom do we relate? Or not.

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The High Stakes of Artificial Dialogue in Teacher Education

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DOUGLAS J. SIMPSON

Talking about important events, experiences, and ideas is a crucial societal concern for many reasons. In the field of teacher education, dialogue may be even more difficult because it is sometimes seen as being both essential and troubling (Boler, 2004; Nelson, Palonsky, & McCarthy, 2009). Dialogue is essential if we are to understand one another; it is troubling because unthinkable ideas and taboos are encountered as we attempt to understand one another. So there is a tendency on the part of many to remain silent during dialogue to avoid conflict (Wegner, 2006). Conversely, there is a propensity by some to turn dialogues into diatribes and to shut down educative discussions. Or one may reject dialogue completely because he or she believes that all dialogue is immersed in absolutist and objectivist, if not racist and sexist, assumptions (Delgado, 1995).

Dialogue is complicated, then, because some people are fearful of open inquiry; others are inclined to rant; and still others are disposed to dismiss it as an oppressive endeavor. But there are some of us who seem to promote artificial dialogue. Unconsciously, perchance, we think that dialogue is impossible or unlikely. Consequently, we think that the attempt is adequate to move in the direction of dialogue—whatever our definition of the concept—with people who will respect one another. In this situation, we may have some dialoguing with one another who are committed to a Vygotskian paradigm but who ignore Bandurian, Maslowian, and Skinnerian theories. Or, perhaps, we have a dialogue among Deweyan thinkers who exclude Confuciusian, Freirean, Marxian, Montessorian, and Palmerian theoreticians.

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Culturally Responsive Assessment Literacy: Assessment as a Democratic Practice

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KRIS SLOAN

In August 2009, the National Center on Performance Incentives released a study of the state of Texas’s teacher merit pay program. The center’s researchers concluded that after 3 years there was no systematic evidence that the state’s performance incentive programs had an impact on student achievement gains. Ignoring these results, the state of Texas significantly increased funding for another merit pay plan based on student achievement. At the national level, President Obama’s “Race to the Top” educational initiative will distribute federal monies only to those schools and districts that are able to tightly link student achievement to teacher performance. Although educational leaders at the state and national levels speak of student achievement, the public and educators both know the only evidence of student achievement that policymakers and politicians are concerned with: scores on state-created, high-stakes standardized tests.

In the current historical moment, high-stakes standardized tests—such as those advanced by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the more recent “Race to the Top” initiative—form the primary engine of educational accountability—indeed, educational reform. Accountability and high-stakes standardized testing will foreseeably be with us for a long time. As such, not properly preparing teachers to cope with the rigors and intricacies of current accountability models, warned Popham (2004), is a prescription for professional suicide. To be sure, teacher educators have done a stellar job providing preservice teachers with the discursive skills to critique standardized testing (Sloan, 2006). However, they have done a far poorer job developing in pre-service teachers the skills necessary to define and demonstrate more accurate and authentic evidence of student achievement to a wider public audience. For these reasons, a major priority in my work as a teacher educator concerned with advancing democracy involves preparing preservice teachers to teach with and, when necessary, around or against high-stakes standardized tests in ways that preserves educational quality and equity.

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Taking a Democratic Stance Toward Knowledge

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CECELIA TRAUGH

One of the major priorities that should guide teacher education programs in preparing teachers for their work in a democratic society is to develop a commitment to knowledge that embraces complexity and to place this knowledge into competition with the mainstream vision, which results from a deep reliance on standardized testing and controls much of the public conversation about schools, teaching and learning, and children.

The following passage describes, I think, the nature of the knowledge needed by all large bureaucracies and provided by the standardized testing required of public schools in this country. The passage comes from Seeing Like a State, by James C. Scott (1998):

Certain forms of knowledge and control require a narrowing of vision. The great advantage of such tunnel vision is that it brings into sharp focus certain limited aspects of an otherwise far more complex and unwieldy reality. This very simplification, in turn, makes the phenomenon at the center of the field of vision more legible and hence more susceptible to careful measurement and calculation. Combined with similar observations, an overall, aggregate, synoptic view of a selective reality is achieved, making possible a high degree of schematic knowledge, control, and manipulation. (p. 11)

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