I thought that this article did a good job of explaining how one becomes labelled as a deviant in any given society and the process by which the deviants are decided. As I said in class, this reminded me of how social circles work in school and I can see how this theory explains why some students are always bullied or rejected. I thought that the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy rang true here. This is a cycle that I try to break among my students when they get in trouble with dialogues telling them that they can change their behavior or correct wrongs that have been committed. I do this as I want them to avoid being labelled as deviants or trouble makers.

The author pointed out interesting views as to how powerful factors like race, gender, social class, attractiveness, among others, play a determining role in generating the expectations teachers hold of children, even from the first days of the school year.
The labeling theory help us to understand the processes of transforming attitudes into behavior, so it becomes an opportunity to expand the numbers of winners and diminish the numbers of losers (185) and that, as educators, is ultimately our goal.
Paola :)

I didn't see a Rist page. Someone let me know, or just edit accordingly, if I missed where this should go.

In our discussion today about Labeling Theory, I was thinking about the analogous, or perhaps corollary, phenomenon of students labeling themselves socially (both through the socialization process and by self identifying). I say "corollary" because I think kids do this because it is what we model. I have just started reading an interesting book (I'm only 30 pages in, so I can't completely vouch for it) on the social reality of high school students, The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, based on the premise that the creativity, sensitivity, intellect, etc., etc., of the social outliers are exactly the qualities and skills that make them the most successful adults. If you're a TV watcher, I also recommend the short-lived show "Freaks and Geeks." (Theater Geek, a.k.a. Brian)

Thanks for the suggestions, Brian! This article gave me a lot to think about and I found this quote particularly interesting: "Erikson has even gone so far as to argue that a society will strive to maintain a certain level of deviance within itself as deviance is functional to clarifying group boundaries..." What do you all think of this? I cannot imagine that anyone (or institution) does this on purpose, but maybe there is an undercurrent of this trend. Why else are we so quick to label "the troublemakers" or "difficult kids"---do we feel we need to have someone in that category? I hope not, but it made me think about it nonetheless. A lot of things stood out to me about this article, but mainly I came away from it with new resolve to be so careful about my labels---even positive ones---and to try very hard to not jump to easy or convenient conclusions. I really like this article and found it very applicable. -LORI

I totally agree with you Lori that this article makes you think about the labelling that we do and its consequences. I was also made to think about the notion of society allowing teachers to be the judges of the mastery of material. No wonder there are so many children who are scared of going to school :-) Meral