AbstractMy project focuses on the surprising educational trajectories of 5 people. I am one of them. Our stories, though quite different in some respects, have several features in common. We all grew up on social housing estates in low- income households, none of our parents had academic or professional qualifications, and we all attended the same school, Blakelaw Comprehensive, once described in a Channel Four documentary as ‘the worst school in Britain’. The ‘widening participation’ evidence-base indicates that ‘people like us’ are statistically unlikely to go to university. And yet, against the odds, we all did. Why us?
In an attempt to grapple with this question, I’ve worked with memories, archived records, images, artefacts, writing practices and a ‘thinking with theory’ methodology to explore the ‘conditions of possibility’ under which going to university became thinkable and doable for us. My study is poststructurally positioned. I’ve used Bourdieu’s theoretical triad of habitus, field and capital, Barad’s concept of intra-action and Foucault’s ideas about the subject to consider the constellations of events, timing, place, bodies, practices and ideas that might have come to matter.
None of our stories fit the heroic narrative in which an exceptional person, one of the ‘brightest and best’, overcomes the circumstances of their impoverished childhood and makes it to university through a combination of intelligence, determination and hard work. In contrast, our partial, fragmented, and sometimes contradictory accounts include tales of truancy, academic failure, undiagnosed dyslexia, coincidence, violence, pre-menstrual tension, humour, supportive and indifferent teachers, fear, football tops and hair-styles. When viewed through a range of theoretical lenses our stories serve to undermine the over-simplistic categories of ‘failing school’, ‘disadvantage’, and ‘bright pupil’. They also suggest that deviation from an educational path predicted by the circumstances of upbringing is both extremely difficult and entirely possible.
|Date of Award||7 May 2019|
|Sponsors||Economic and Social Research Council|
|Supervisor||Lisa Lucas (Supervisor) & Sheila Traher (Supervisor)|
- Post theory educational trejectories