Chaise LaDousa

Professor of Anthropology Chaise LaDousa and Ana Baldrige ’12 recently published an article in Ethos, the journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology. “Agency and the GED: Personae and Artifacts in the Figured World of a Literacy Welcome Center” is based on Baldrige’s senior project.

The General Educational Development (GED) test has served as a mechanism for granting high school equivalency in the United States for decades, and some states have funded tutorial services because they have imagined the GED to be a means for getting a job or increasing one’s wages.

Based on field research conducted in literacy welcome centers in a small city in Upstate New York, LaDousa and Baldrige argued that teachers’ and students’ narrative reflections on their work show that they attain a sense of purpose and momentum toward success in multiple ways during participation in tutorials.

“On the one hand,” the authors said, “students build and hone their skills required for successful testing. On the other hand, teachers embody the caring disposition that the world inhabited by the students lacks.” They argued that the GED and its practice exams are artifacts that only partly account for the work of teachers and students, and, when reflected on by an administrator, erase crucial aspects of that work.

LaDousa and Baldrige worked together on the adult education project through the Levitt Center. Baldrige is currently a student at Harvard Law School.

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