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Producing SuccessThe Culture of Personal Advancement in an American High School$
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Peter Demerath

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226142395

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226142425.001.0001

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The Role of the School: Institutional Advantaging

The Role of the School: Institutional Advantaging

(p.63) Chapter Three The Role of the School: Institutional Advantaging
Producing Success

Peter Demerath

University of Chicago Press

This chapter provides an introduction of the Wilton Burnham High School itself—a Blue Ribbon high school with a rich curriculum and extracurriculum and dedicated teaching staff. In addition to its rich curriculum and dedicated teaching staff, the school is notable in its ability to leverage institutional resources to sponsor its students and instill in them the habits of competitive individualism. The chapter explains that a corollary of the local cultural emphasis on the maintenance of self-worth and the pursuit of individual success was a belief that ceding control to young people and accommodating their preferences would help them to be successful. Details about the school organization around policies that gave students great latitude and input are provided. The chapter also provides examples of the variety of ways in which the school sponsored students and socialized them for individualistic competition, from its continuous emphasis on “excellence” and “success” to the many ways in which it formally recognized students' achievements.

Keywords:   Wilton Burnham High School, Blue Ribbon, curriculum, extracurriculum, teaching staff, self-worth, excellence, success

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