Assuming an alias: Revealing student identities in schooling

Year: 2002

Author: Mills, Carmen, Gale, Trevor

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper we examine the restructuring of students' habitus; specifically, the pedagogical messages of schooling that frame what it means to be identified as a student. Drawing on the voices of students from a secondary school located in a regional area of Australia, a township characterised by its high welfare dependency and indigenous population, we explore the tensions between how marginalised students see themselves, what some teachers want them to become, what other teachers expect them to become, and the regard held for the ways in which these students name themselves. In analysing student interview data, we suggest that some teachers are in the habit of attempting a transformation of students, projecting onto them identities without regard for the communities they embody. Others, however, are more concerned to transform schooling; to construct school-community relations that produce students 'as a fish in water', who do not feel the weight of foreign expectations as one might if removed from what is familiar, accommodating and secure. We conclude that for students to identify with schools in this way involves democratic conceptions of the relations between school and community; structures that produce a student habitus more in tune with their immediate social world.