19 SES 10 A, Young People, Voice and Resistance in Schools
Low school attendance and truancy have been widely discussed phenomena in the educational world over time (McCormack 2005). These phenomena cause great concern to many countries, due to their serious social and economic consequences. OECD has described truancy as being expensive, since a non-attender is more likely to become and remain a burden to a country’s benefit system than a successful student (Traag & Van der Velden, 2011).
According to Lever (2011), truancy falls into three distinct categories: wanton truancy, truancy due to school phobia and condoned truancy. Wanton truancy is when a student does not want to attend school because they have found something ‘better to do’ with their time. School phobia is when a student has anxiety issues like panic attacks when he/she is asked to go to school, and condoned truancy is when parents, even though the child may be perfectly happy at school (Reid 1999), encourage their child not to attend school.
Zyngier (2011), in his review of current research into programs aimed at ‘at-risk’ students, identifies three standpoints, characterized as instrumentalist, social constructivist and critical transformative. Instrumentalist views are linked to materialistic approaches, thus intervention programs which fall under this category focus on the individual vulnerability and the psycho-pathological deficits of ‘at-risk’ students. Typical of the social constructivist approach is the call for school reform and effectiveness. Sadly, such approaches often catalyse the publication of examination results (Mortimore & Mortimore, in Zyngier, 2011) and truancy rates (Barton, 1997). These perpetuate the disproportionate enrolments of ‘at-risk’ students in certain schools, thus creating a culture of disadvantage (Zyngier, 2011; Saltmarsh & Youdell, 2004), as it is often the case with Technical and Vocational Schools, both in Cyprus (Symeou & Efthymiou, 2004) as well as in other European countries such as Spain (García‐Gracia, 2008). The third standpoint, critical transformative or empowering, seeks to develop student’s knowledge of their world and their ability to act within it. This approach considers, as one of its most basic tenets, the engagement with young people by listening to them. During this process, the connectedness between students and teachers is essential, as well as the ability of the teacher to listen and value the students’ voice (Lamnias, 1999).
The research under discussion is currently conducted in a mainstream secondary Technical and Vocational school in Cyprus and has been designed to follow a qualitative, ethnographic approach to studying truancy. The purpose of the research is to unravel the standpoints and voices of a commonly marginalised and excluded group of students, in a commonly marginalised type of school in the Cypriot society. Privileging the point of view of the least advantaged students, through their critique and participation, not only has the ability to empower students with low attendance, but at the same time, as an objective, can raise critical awareness concerning the role of the educational context on the creation of truancy and ‘at-risk’ students.
Critical Pedagogy (Giroux, 2011) and Social Exchange Theory (Miller, 2013) are the theoretical models which are used to frame the research design and questions. The research questions which are, accordingly, attempted to be answered are:
- How do students with low attendance define and structure their school experience?
- How do students describe the processes which operate within the school which push them out of class/school?
- How do students calculate their decision to stay out of class/school and what are, for them, the costs and benefits of their decision to stay out?
- How do students with low attendance define the patterns of resistance they employ to resist the hegemony of the dominant order in the school?
Barton, L. (1997) Inclusive education: romantic, subversive or realistic?, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 1(3), pp. 231-242. García‐Gracia, M. (2008) Role of secondary schools in the face of student absenteeism: a study of schools in socially underprivileged areas, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 12(3), pp. 263-280. Giroux, H. (2011) On Critical Pedagogy. New York: Continuum. Graue, M.E. & Walsh, D.J. (1998) Studying Children in Context: Theories, Methods, and Ethics. London: Sage. Greig, A. & Taylor, J. (1999) Doing research with Children. London: Sage. Hammersley, M. (2014) Research Design. In Clark, A. Flewitt, R., Hammersley, M. & Robb, M. (Eds) Understanding Research with Children and Young People, London: Sage Lamnias, K. (1999) Modernity: Forms of logic and influences in the process of formation of school knowledge. Pedagogical Review. Thessaloniki: Kyriakides [in Greek]. Lever, C. (2011) Understanding Challenging Behaviour in Inclusive Classrooms. Pearson Education. Available via: https://www.dawsonera.com/readonline/9781408248287/startPage/8 [27/1/2015]. Miles, M. B. & Huberman, A. M. (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook. California: Sage Publications. Miller, S. P. (2013). Social exchange theory. Salem Press Encyclopedia. Montgomery, H. (2014) Participant Observation. In Clark, A. Flewitt, R., Hammersley, M. & Robb, M. (Eds) Understanding Research with Children and Young People, London: Sage. Phtiaka, H. (1997) Special Kids for Special Treatment? How special do you need to be to find yourself in a special school? London: Falmer Press. Reid, K. (1999) Truancy And Schools, London: Routledge. Roberts-Holmes, G. (2005) Doing your early years research project. London: Paul Chapman Publishing. Saltmarsh, S. & Youdell, D. (2004) ‘Special sport’ for misfits and losers: educational triage and the construction of school subjectivities, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 8(4), pp. 353-371. Symeou, L. & Efthymiou, E. (2004) Research concerning the attitudes of students attending Technical Schools, about their schools. Cyprus Pedagogical Institute Bulletin, 5, pp. 9-11 [in Greek]. Traag, T. & Van der Velden, K. W. (2011) Early School Leaving in the Netherlands: the role of family resources, school composition and background characteristics in early school-leaving in lower secondary education. Irish Educational Studies, 30 (1), pp. 45-62. Zyngier, D. (2011) (Re)conceptualising risk: left numb and unengaged and lost in a no-man’s-land or what (seems to) work for at-risk students, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(2), pp. 211-231.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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