Young People’s Narratives of Disadvantage, Class, Place and Identity
4. Bringing class out of the closet
← 62 | 63 → 4. Bringing class out of the closet
This chapter does not mince words—whether young people succeed or not educationally is very much influenced by their social class location—which is itself a social construction. It is time we stopped backing away from this reality and began to think beyond the fantasy that education is within the reach of all. Doing that requires that we confront and challenge some well-entrenched shibboleths, but as Varenne and McDermott (1999) put it in their book Successful Failure, ‘It takes hard intellectual work to clear the decks for only a moment’ (p. xi).
To set the stage for what is to follow in this chapter we want to acknowledge and build upon Varenne and McDermott’s (1999) argument that it is difficult to think and talk about education and schooling ‘without necessarily thinking about failure or success as categories for the identification of children’ (p. xi). They make their point more directly when they argue that we ‘have organized a terrible problem for ourselves’ (p. xi) in the way we have made:
…individual learning and school performance the institutional site where members of each new generation are measured and then assigned a place in the social structure based on this measurement. (p. xi)
What invariably follows from this kind of positioning is a singular focussing of attention on ‘a Johnny who can’t read or a Sheila who can’ (p. xiii)—something that Varenne and McDermott refuse to do. As they put it:
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.