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An Educator’s Portrait


Professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot has spent her career as an educator and sociologist examining the culture of schools, the ecology of education, and the relationship between human development and social change. She pioneered a method of inquiry called portraiture, an approach that allows social scientists to capture the rich complexity of individuals and organizations. We asked her to describe the origins of portraiture — and how the method is used not just by scholars but by school leaders around the world as a guiding beacon in their practice. In the video above, she describes both the potential and the impact of this signature contribution. – Video by Elio Pajares; story by Jill Anderson

With portraiture, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot could look more deeply, and see more clearly — illuminating the rich stories of schools, families, and communities.

Learn More and Connect

Watch Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot discuss what parents learn from their children — and how children eventually become our teachers: Part I and Part II.

Learn more about Lawrence-Lightfoot's impact at HGSE and beyond, and read an interview about her life and career.

Learn more about portraiture and related resources.

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