07 SES 01 B, Children and Youth Voices on Inclusion and (In)justice
Evidence suggests that despite a fragmented educational history and exile-related stressors, many refugee children succeed in schools and do well in life (Boyden 2013). These children are not ‘miraculous exceptions’ (cf. Bourdieu 1979), nor are their stories uncommon. Yet, their experiences are often submerged by predominantly deficit based discourses that position the child as a victim of barriers due to trauma, limited literacy and other gaps in education-related skills; and schools as remedial places (Graham, Minhas & Paxton 2016; Major, Wilkinson et al 2013).
This presentation, being a part of a larger study focusing on refugee children’s educational success, is underpinned by a belief that while certain circumstances and processes can make refugee children vulnerable and struggle in school, the relationship between difficult experiences and consequent problems is correlational rather than causal. Thus, while not overlooking trauma and other major issues arising from the refugee experience, this presentation shifts the research focus away from fixed categories based on marginality (e.g. due to refugee status, vulnerability or assumed trauma) to an appreciation of refugee children’s individual strengths, their ways of navigating the system and the shaping of their dispositions to act in specific ways (habitus).
The theoretical framework of this study derives from the theory of practice architectures (Kemmis et al 2014) and Bourdieu’s (1990) concept of habitus. The theory of practice architectures conjoins the individual and the societal approaches, thus providing an elaborate understanding of the ways in which the child’s experiences of success and the site-specific educational practices are nested with one another: how the everyday reality of refugee students is composed in socio-material realities of schools and, especially, shaped by the arrangements among which the practices are enacted (Schatzki 2002). Exploring the cultural-discursive, material-economic and social-political arrangements that hold educational practices in place (Kemmis et al 2014) helps to understand the ways in which refugee children form their habitus, or set of dispositions, that enable them to operate in a field (Bourdieu 1990). This presentation elaborates the refugee children’s navigation within the practices of their learning sites.i.e., their ways of understanding, thinking and speaking (sayings), their ways of acting (doings), and their ways of relating to each other (relatings) in the shared landscapes.
Bourdieu, P. (1979). The inheritors: French students and their relation to culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Bourdieu, P. (1990) The Logic of Practice. USA: Stanford University Press. Boyden, J. (2013). "We're not going to suffer like this in the mud": Educational aspirations, social mobility and independent Cahill, C. (2007). Participatory data analysis. In S. Kindon, R. Pain & M. Kesby (Eds.), Participatory action research approaches and methods: Connecting people, participation and place. London: Routledge, 181-187 Graham, H., Minhas, R., & Paxton, G. (2016). Learning problems in children of refugee background: A systematic review. Pediatrics 137(6), 1-15. Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P., & Bristol, L. (2014). Changing practices, changing education. Singapore: Springer. Major, J., Wilkinson, J., Langat, K., & Santoro, N. (2013). Sudanese young people of refugee background in rural and regional Australia: Social capital and education success. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 23(3), 95-105. Schatzki, T. R. (2002). The site of the social: A philosophical account of the constitution of social life and change. Univer-sity Park: Pennsylvania.
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