28 SES 13, Investigating the Capacity to Aspire
Childhood is constructed through policy and social practice. Through schools, children become “pupils”, who later become useful citizens for a European and global economy. Policies that dictate or give clear guidance about what is taught and standardised tests may lead pupils and teachers to focus on the future in terms of jobs, careers and further education. There is a neo-liberal discourse at work here, whereby market forces have an impact on the task of schools, and as socio-cultural expectations change, so does the purpose of schooling.
There is a plethora of research on pupils’ aspirations and expectations for their careers and further education, particularly in relation to gender and socio-economic status. The purpose of education also includes goals for more ‘rounded’ young people who can contribute in ways beyond economics. However, there has been very little research that focusses on aspirations for more than one aspect of adult life.
The focus of the present paper is to identify what hopes pupils in Wales have for their adult lives. These hopes are clearly relevant to future identities, with pupils subscribing to particular career and lifestyle choices and their meanings at a young age. A social constructionist lens will be used to discuss the data with reference to the socio-historical landscape in which children are educated and expected to become adults fit for present day society.
Archer, L., DeWitt, J., Osbourne, J., Dillon, J., Willis, B. & Wong, B. 2013. ‘Not girly, not sexy, not glamorous’: primary school girls’ and parents’ constructions of science aspirations, Pedagogy, culture and society, 21 (1) 171 – 194 Gutman, L. M. & Schoon, I. 2012. Correlates and consequences of uncertainty in career aspirations: gender differences among adolescents in England, Journal of vocational behaviour, 80: 608 – 618 James, A. & James, A. L. .2004. Constructing childhood: Theory, policy and social practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Turok, I., Kintrea, K., St Clair, R. & Benjamin, A. 2009. Shaping educational attitudes and aspirations: the influence of parents, place and poverty: stage 1 report. Joseph Rowntree Foundation
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