Nicole Nguyen

A Curriculum of Fear

Homeland Security in US Public Schools

University of Minnesota Press 2016

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in AnthropologyNew Books in EducationNew Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books Network September 7, 2016 Trevor Mattea

It can be tempting to generalize certain attributes of schools as either being good or bad. Magnet and charter schools are often characterized as...

It can be tempting to generalize certain attributes of schools as either being good or bad. Magnet and charter schools are often characterized as being inherently good. They usually offer special programs that ground all of their instruction. Having that choice is appealing to many families, and why not? Someone must have put a lot of thought into creating that special program, convincing stakeholders to open a school, and persuading teachers to build their curriculum around the program often times forgoing a higher salary at another school. With the neighborhood school, it seems like had to be there, and there is not anything special” about it that ties it together, except maybe geography. How is it supposed to compete with International Baccalaureate or STEM or performing arts? These things seem to give school a purpose. But what if the special program is something unexpected, perhaps something with a bit more baggage? How do geography, industry, and what our society expects from students influence the special programs made available to them? Are there any school lotteries you would think twice about before entering your child? In A Curriculum of Fear: Homeland Security in US Public Schools (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), Nicole Nguyen, provides an ethnography of a public high school that responded to calls for reform by adopting homeland security as its primary focus and lens for all other classes. She explores the history of militarization in schools, its impact on students, and the intersection of ethics and personal politics.

Nguyen joins New Books in Education for the interview. To share your thoughts on the podcast, you can connect with her via email at nguyenn@uic.edu.


Trevor Mattea is an educational consultant and speaker. His areas of expertise include deeper learning, parent involvement, project-based learning, and technology integration. He can be reached by email at info@trevormattea.com or on Twitter @tsmattea.

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