Field Note: A School Under Fire: The Fog of Educational Practice in War
This field note explores a little-known footnote in the history of the U.S. military occupation in Iraq. In mid-2007, when the war in Iraq was at its height, the author accepted a job to document the beginnings of a school designed and operated by the U.S. military in Iraq. Although this school was in many ways like any other, every aspect ultimately was conditioned by its singular context: it was a school for Iraqi juveniles captured in war. The author documented the situation of the teenage detainees attending this school run by the U.S. military, and described their educational program. Data collection included both semi-structured and informal conversations with the detainees, their teachers, their guards, and those in the military hierarchy who made decisions about the school and its curriculum; the author also conducted extended classroom observations. Document analysis included school schedules, students’ written work and artwork, and assessments. The author gathered information to inform decision-makers about elements missing from the school program, to raise questions about texts and materials, and to offer ideas as the school developed. This article, which is adapted from the field notes the author maintained as part of her assignment, raises questions about the role of the U.S. military in providing education to detained Iraqi juveniles and describes daily life in school.