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Disruptive School Behavior: Class, Race, and Culture

Judith Lynne Hanna
Disruptive School Behavior: Class, Race, and Culture
ISBN: 978-084191-134-5
ISBN: 978-084191-164-2
1988/288 pages
Distributed for Holmes & Meier Publishers

"A very important study…Likely to become a classic…certain to generate a lot of controversy…the description of the school setting, the discussion of methods of data gathering, and the theoretical analysis are simply outstanding."—William Julius Wilson, Harvard University

"Unique for its honest confrontation with the real problems…The implications for educational policy will be of great importance. [The author has] gotten into the central problems…in a way that only a contemporary anthropologist and involved parent could…[The study] will fit right into the center of activity in multicultural and intercultural education, as well as into education and anthropology."—George D. Spindler, Stanford University

"The chapter on cultural dissonance is most insightful, and Hanna outlines several specific issues that hinder effective interaction between black and white, middle-and lower-class children.…This well-written, well-researched book is a contribution to the field of urban minority education and should be helpful to graduate students and policy makers."—Choice

 "[Hanna's] book is a courageous one. She has taken up one of the taboo topics of our hypersensitive age: how the lofty social and educational ideas of racial integration can be compromised, even negated, by the vexing realities of life within the newly integrated school....  But the greater contribution of this volume is to provide a set of concepts and insights that, carefully borne in mind, should reduce the chances that the next round of educational reforms will make matters worse."—The Public Interest


Unique in its honest confrontation with real problems and its challenge to many assumptions and practices in education and public policy, this book rests on the conviction that equal opportunity in formal education is necessary but not sufficient to enable students to achieve socioeconomic success in mainstream adult life. Positive social relations as well as mutually shared values and communicative patterns are also of critical importance.

This work not only focuses on the clash of socioeconomic styles that often coincide with desegregation—an issue as relevant today as it was in the 1970s—but also offers explanations for aggressive and other disruptive school behavior based on research in the social/behavioral sciences and humanities. The author then presents coping strategies for parents, teachers, government, the private sector, and concerned citizens.

Hanna shows that without considering the unintended consequences of their programs, policy planners have unwittingly set in motion obstacles to educational achievement. Drawing upon students' own perceptions and actions, Hanna uses her case study of a court-ordered magnet school in Dallas, TX to illuminate widespread problems on a national scale.


Judith Lynne Hanna is affiliated with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland. Her publications include Urban Dynamics in Black Africa and To Dance is Human.  For more information on Dr. Hanna's work, please visit