Harvard Educational Review
  1. Fall 2020 Issue »

    Technical Ceremonies

    Rationalization, Opacity, and the Restructuring of Educational Organizations

    Maxwell Yurkofsky
    After decades of accountability and market-based reforms in education, school systems are now organizing more around improving teaching and learning. Yet these efforts frequently yield unintended, superficial, or even counterproductive changes at the school level. In this article, Maxwell Yurkofsky develops the concept of technical ceremonies as a way of theorizing this emerging pattern of school organizations. Technical ceremonies involve educators changing their practice to align with new reforms in a way that privileges what is visible and measurable as a way of appeasing external stakeholders over more substantive improvements to practice. He argues that technical ceremonies arise as principals navigate a multitude of surface-level demands from the environment and the uncertainties that pervade efforts to transform teaching and learning.

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    Maxwell M. Yurkofsky is a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research draws on institutional and organizational theory to understand the changing structure and practice of school systems in response to reforms that aim to improve professional collaboration, teaching, and learning. His work has been published in Review of Research in Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, Educational Policy, and Teachers College Record. He earned his doctorate in the Education Policy, Leadership, and Instructional Practice Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
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    Fall 2020 Issue

    Abstracts

    The Learning of Teaching
    A Portrait Composed of Teacher Voices
    Irene A. Liefshitz

    Book Notes

    Why Trust Science?
    Naomi Oreskes

    International Aid to Education
    Francine Menashy

    Youth and the National Narrative
    Marie Lall and Tania Saeed

    How the Other Half Learns
    Robert Pondiscio

    Making Up Our Mind
    Sigal Ben-Porath and Michael Johanek

    Suddenly Diverse
    Erica O. Turner