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«It’s Just Easier Not to Go to School»

Adolescent Girls and Disengagement in Middle School


Lori Olafson

This book examines the lived experience of adolescent girls at school and provides an analysis of girls who demonstrate an ability to perform well academically, yet resist the regimes of school in various ways. Drawing on a study of ten middle school girls, it describes the conditions of life in school that lead to disengagement and resistance. In the social world of the school, the girls experience conflicting desires and identities. Resistance to schooling seems to be more about resistance to identity. This book makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of the complex worlds that students and teachers create. It is essential reading for anyone interested in adolescent studies.

«A rare piece of work that does not judge or label female protagonists, but helps us understand, in clear and lucid terms, the struggles and dangers they face in the ‘under-life’ of school. A must read, in my opinion, for teachers and teacher educators, this book is a telling reminder of why it’s important for us to unearth and examine what we take for granted about education and young women.» (Jim Field, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, and Assistant Dean of Teacher Preparation, University of Calgary)
«In her book, Lori Olafson offers us a careful reading of the lives of ten seventh and eight grade girls who are considered ‘school resisters.’ However, in depicting the lives of these girls, and the gendered nature of school resistance, Olafson produces a wider mapping of the difficult conditions of middle school life for young women. Unlike other maps, her’s is richly informed by theory, drawing on and extending feminist poststructural and Foucauldian theory, but, it remains wonderfully grounded in the words and lives of the girls. Well written, entirely readable, this book paints an important and incredibly disturbing picture of the sad and often cruel conditions of middle school life, where it may indeed be just easier and perhaps entirely rational not to go to school.» (Helen Harper, College of Education, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Author of ‘Wild Words/Dangerous Desires: High School Girls and Avant-garde Writing’, and Coauthor of ‘Advocacy Research in Literacy Education: Seeking Higher Ground’)