Fear and trembling in the American high school: Educational reform and teacher alienation

Jeffrey S. Brooks, Roxanne Hughes, Melanie C. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article reports findings from a two-year case study of teachers in a single public high school. Data were gathered and analyzed using a conceptual framework that conceived of alienation as a set of five sub-constructs: powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and estrangement. Findings suggested that teachers experienced each of these forms of alienation, but that each individual teacher interpreted them in a unique manner. Moreover, data suggested that for individual teachers, experiences of alienation varied from situation to situation and evolved over time. The authors concluded that teacher alienation was a fluid phenomenon, a seemingly basic assertion that has profound implications for teachers, administrators, and policymakers as they consider adopting or implementing reform initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-62
Number of pages18
JournalEducational Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Alienation
  • Burnout
  • Schoolteachers
  • High schools

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