Season One, Episode Five

How Have Schools Disciplined Their Students?
Excesses and Inequities

Transcript coming soon!

We like to imagine schools as places where children are encouraged to explore their environment, to learn new things, and to expand their imaginations. But for many schoolchildren, both in the past and in the present, learning was a process distorted  by a fear of physical punishment. In this episode, we explore the racial and political history behind the belief that some children require fear and pain in order to learn. 

Unfortunately, that belief is still with us, particularly when it comes to disciplinary measures deployed on children of color. We end the episode with a brief exploration of how some schools are seeking to offer alternatives to a disciplinary regime that has become so extreme critics refer to it as the school-to-prison pipeline.

image gallery

reading list

Brodhead, Richard. “Sparing the Rod: Discipline and Fiction in Antebellum America.” Representations (1988) 21: 67–96. 

Fear-Segal, Jacqueline, and Susan D. Rose, eds. Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Indigenous Histories, Memories, and Reclamations. U of Nebraska Press, 2016. 

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Anti-Slavery Office: Boston, 1845.

Hauser, Christine, and Isabella Grullón Paz. “U.S. to Search Former Native American Schools for Children’s Remains.New York Times, June 23, 2001.   

Kaba, Mariame. We do this til We Free Us. Haymarket Books, 2021.

Justice Policy Institute. “Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools.” November 2011.  

Losen, Daniel J., ed. Closing the school discipline gap: Equitable remedies for excessive exclusion. Teachers College Press, 2014.

Noisecat, Julian Brave. “One Indigenous girl’s brave response to the Residential Schools.” National Observer, June 28, 2021.

Patton, Stacey. “Paddling in schools is State-Sanctioned Racial Violence and Needs to End.” The Grio, May 17, 2021.  

Robinson, John. New Essays, or, Observations Divine and Moral. 1624.

U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. “Data Snapshot: School Discipline.” March 2014.

U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. “Restorative Justice in Oakland Schools: Implementation and Impacts.” September 2014.

Webster, Crystal. “Black Children have always Known State Violence.” Washington Post, June 15, 2020.  


Whitehead, Colson.  The Nickel Boys. Anchor, 2019.

Momaday, N. Scott. Three Plays: The Indolent Boys, Children of the Sun, and The Moon in Two Windows. University of Oklahoma Press, 2007.

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