Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 447–476 | Cite as

A rural math, science, and technology elementary school tangled up in global networks of practice

  • Heidi B. CarloneEmail author
  • Sue Kimmel
  • Christina Tschida


This is an ethnographic study of a newly created math, science, and technology elementary magnet school in a rural community fiercely committed to cultural preservation while facing unprecedented economic instability brought on by massive loss of manufacturing jobs. Our goal was to understand global- and community-level contexts that influenced the school’s science curriculum, the ways the school promoted itself to the community, and the implicit meanings of science held by school staff, parents and community members. Main sources of data were the county’s newspaper articles from 2003 to 2006, the school’s, town’s, and business leaders’ promotional materials, and interviews with school staff, parents, and community members. A key finding was the school’s dual promotion of science education and character education. We make sense of this “science with character” curriculum by unpacking the school and community’s entanglements with historical (cultural preservation), political (conservative politics, concerns for youth depravity), and economic (globalization) networks. We describe the ways those entanglements enabled certain reproductive meanings of school science (as add-on, suspect, and elitist) and other novel meanings of science (empathetic, nurturing, place-based). This study highlights the school as a site of struggle, entangled in multiple networks of practice that influence in positive, negative, and unpredictable ways, the enacted science curriculum.


Ethnography Rural science education Globalization Cultural studies Character education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidi B. Carlone
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sue Kimmel
    • 1
  • Christina Tschida
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Teacher Education and Higher EducationThe University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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