Shadows, mentors, and surrogate fathers: Effective schooling as critical pedagogy for inner-city boys

L. Janelle Dance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article features a supplemen tal school program designed to promote positive educational outcomes and improved life chances for boys of African American descent who reside in inner-city communities within the Boston metropolitan area. This program, the Paul Robeson Institute for Positive Self-Development, is not a public school but is a school-based environment sensitive to the unique needs of students who are young, black males as they progress from third grade through junior high school and into young adulthood. An analysis of the way in which this institute supplements the Boston Public School System provides valuable examples of effective schooling practices and interactions that are in short supply in the Boston Public School System. These are the types of interactions that boys from inner-city communities need to thrive in any school setting. The dominant practices of the institute exemplify critical pedagogy and include an elaborate mentoring process, responsible manhood rituals, opportunities for learning, and calling the bluff on “hard,” or gangster-like postures. This analysis of the institute is the culmination of almost four years of ethnographic research involving field observations, interviews, group discussions, journals, surveys, follow-up research, and interactions with students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-415
Number of pages17
JournalSociological Focus
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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