Successful Failure / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $37.54
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 14%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (16) from $37.54   
  • New (8) from $46.17   
  • Used (8) from $37.54   


In this controversial work, Hervé Varenne and Ray McDermott explore education as cultural phenomenon—a construct of artifice and reality we impose upon ourselves. The authors discuss in five case studies how the American education system defines and measures success and failure, why there is polarization between suburban schools and urban schools, and what about our system leads us to focus on the negative. Their exploration focuses not on the people or the activities of the system, but on the institutions themselves: who decided what was a success or failure? How was the identification done, and with what consequences?This important and timely book is a must-read for anyone interested in educational reform, the American educational system, and the anthropology of education.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Rather than attempting to explain why certain children succeed in school while other fail, these authors argue from an anthropological perspective for the jettisoning of the entire success/failure model. After describing how, on one hand, students categorized as failure display remarkable intelligence with regard to coping with their environment and social contexts, and on the other, students branded as successful fear that they are always an exam away from failure, the authors discuss the succeed/fail paradigm as a constructed cultural artifact. They then set out to redefine how we look at the paradigm and words such as individual, identity, skill, ability, disability, intelligence, competence, proficiency, achievement, motivation, self- esteem, objective test, and grade level, by examining the concepts of success in failure and failure in success. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813391298
  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 284
  • Sales rank: 892,616
  • Lexile: 1320L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Hervé Varenne is professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Ray McDermott is professor of education at Stanford University. Hervé Varenne is professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Ray McDermott is professor of education at Stanford University.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Introduction 1
Pt. 1 The Makings of Some Educational Facts
1 Adam, Adam, Adam, and Adam: The Cultural Construction of a Learning Disability 25
2 The Farrells and the Kinneys at Home: Literacies in Action 45
3 The Voice of the Choir, the Voices in the Choir 63
4 Joint Action on the Wild Side of Manhattan 86
5 Racing in Place 106
Pt. 2 Education and the Making of Cultural Facts
6 Disability as a Cultural Fact 131
7 Ways with Theoretical Words 157
8 Local Constructions of Educational Facts 183
Conclusion: Beyond Explaining Why
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Name Index
Subject Index
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)