Thursday, 3 January 2013

Making ‘space’: young people put at a disadvantage re-engaging with learning

an article by John Smyth and Peter McInerney (University of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia) published in British Journal of Sociology of Education Volume 34 Issue 1 (January 2013)


Young people who disengage or disconnect from school are often demonised within the media and the wider public imagination, from a largely individualised and pathological positioning.

Policy explanations and responses are often unhelpful in their focus on a range of ‘deficit’ attributes – poverty, poor parenting, dysfunctional families, low familial achievement, aspiration and motivation, and other ‘at risk’ categories.

This paper offers a different explanatory framework that foregrounds the experiences of some young people who had disengaged from school and resumed learning under a very different set of conditions to the ones that had exiled them from schools in the first place.

Using a socio-spatial framework, the paper explores the notion of ‘relational space’ as it was appropriated and reclaimed by these young people, in explaining how they saw themselves as constructing viable and sustainable learning identities for themselves.

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