MacArthur Fellows Program

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

Sociologist of Education | Class of March 1984

Title
Sociologist of Education
Location
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Age
40 at time of award
Area of Focus
Sociology

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a sociologist, studies the organizational structure of schools and the cultural contexts of learning.

Lawrence-Lightfoot examines the patterns and dynamics of classroom life, the relationships between adult-developmental themes and teachers' work, socialization within families, communities, and schools, and the relationship between culture and learning styles.  She has also pioneered the qualitative research methodology of portraiture, an approach to social science methodology that bridges the realms of aesthetics and empiricism.  She has authored and co-authored eight books, including Worlds Apart: Relationships Between Families and Schools (1978), Beyond Bias: Perspectives on Classrooms (1979), The Good High School: Portraits of Character and Culture (1983), Balm in Gilead: Journey of a Healer (1988), I've Known Rivers: Lives of Loss and Liberation (1993), The Art and Science of Portraiture (1997), Respect (1999), and The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Lean From Each Other (2003).

Lawrence-Lightfoot is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education.  She joined the Graduate School of Education faculty in 1972.  In 2002, she was appointed Chair of the MacArthur Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Lawrence-Lightfoot received a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College (1966) and her doctorate in the sociology of education from Harvard University (1972).

Last updated January 1, 2005.

News About this Fellow
June 5, 2015
"The Old Strategies Retirees Need to Unlearn"
The Wall Street Journal
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot , 1984 MacArthur Fellow
March 20, 2015
"What Age Taught Me About Being a Teacher"
The Wall Street Journal
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot , 1984 MacArthur Fellow
January 20, 2015
"What Has–and Hasn’t—Surprised Me About Growing Older"
The Wall Street Journal
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot , 1984 MacArthur Fellow
October 15, 2014
"Why Retiring Is So Hard"
The Wall Street Journal
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot , 1984 MacArthur Fellow
June 23, 2014
"How to Think About Downsizing Your Life"
The Wall Street Journal
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot , 1984 MacArthur Fellow
June 4, 2012
"How The Exits We Make Set Us Free"
Radio Boston
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot , 1984 MacArthur Fellow
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