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Becoming Educated

Young People’s Narratives of Disadvantage, Class, Place and Identity

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John Smyth and Peter McInerney

Becoming Educated examines the education of young people, especially those from the most ‘disadvantaged’ contexts. The book argues that because the focus has been obdurately and willfully on the wrong things – blaming students; measuring, testing and comparing them; and treating families and communities in demeaning ways that convert them into mere ‘consumers’ – that the resulting misdiagnoses have produced a damaging ensemble of faulty ‘solutions.’ By shifting the emphasis to looking at what is going on ‘inside’ young lives and communities, this book shifts the focus to matters such as taking social class into consideration, puncturing notions of poverty and disadvantage, understanding neighborhoods as places of hope and creating spaces within which to listen to young peoples’ aspirations. These are a radically different set of constructs from the worn-out ones that continue to be trotted out, and, if understood and seriously attended to, they have the potential to make a real difference in young lives. This is a book that ought to be read by all who claim to know what is in the best interests of young people who are becoming educated.
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Acknowledgments

← viii | ix →    Acknowledgments

Extract

by thanking the courageous, thoughtful and insightful young people who so generously shared their stories, lives and hopes for the future with us. While some of these stories were often difficult for some young people to tell, they were unequivocal to a person, in wanting their stories to be heard so that other young people like them might be the beneficiaries. Any errors or omissions, are therefore, entirely ours.

This research could not have occurred without the financial generosity of the Australian Research Council (ARC) for a Discovery Grant (DP 110112619) Young people’s narrative of socio-economic disadvantage and educational opportunities in the context of place-based interventions. We express our appreciation to the ARC for its continued trust in our research.

The Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), as always, were most helpful in allowing us access to schools in which to speak with young people, and in this regard, we particularly want to thank the principals and staff of the schools who were involved in the research. In these busy times, it is so easy for schools to say ‘no’, but in this case, that was never likely to occur.

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