Transgression and Forgiveness in an International School: A Nonmodern Case Study



Date of this version


Document Type



education, discipline, crisis, principal


The authors begin by arguing that Dewey's theory includes a healthy respect for both positivist science and postmodernism 's emphasis on the need for context. They label this perspective nonmodern, following Latour's use of the term, and present and analyze a student discipline case in an international school. Two graduating seniors planted the same racist reference in their yearbook personal statements. Besides the damage done to the school's culture of internationalism, both students were threatened with violence unless the principal defused the crisis. He did so by following the procedures stipulated in the discipline policy but also by fashioning an impromptu confession-and-forgiveness hearing within a special student council meeting. The authors argue that the solution was generally judged appropriate because it covered both the modern and postmodern aspects of the situation. This case suggests that for principals and superintendents, nonmodern thinking is more appropriate than strictly modern or postmodern approaches.

Published in

Educational Administration Quarterly

Citation/Other Information

LaMagdeleine, D. R., & Kramer, B. H. (1998). Transgression and forgiveness in an international school: A nonmodern case study. Educational Administration Quarterly, 34(3), 427-455. doi: 10.1177/0013161X98034003008