Schools reinventing themselves for young adolescents

Year: 2004

Author: McInerney, Peter, Smyth, John

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There is alarming evidence that schooling is not working for many young adolescents—most notably those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Although many factors are invoked to explain the alienation and disengagement of young adolescents, research suggests that there is a mismatch between the organisation and curriculum of the middle years of schooling and the intellectual, social and emotional needs of young people (Smyth, Hattam, Cannon, Edwards, Wilson & Wurst, 2000). In particular, there is a lack of understanding of adolescent identity and the issues that affect young people. Drawing on a three year ARC Discovery project, this paper describes the ways in which a number of schools are engaging with and against policy discourse to reinvent themselves as more inclusive and learner-centered organisations that take seriously the issues and concerns of young people. Narratives portraits of school personnel will shed light on the cultural and structural elements of school reform in the middle years and the ways in which teachers are reinventing themselves to build ‘geographies of trust’ (Scott, 1999) and ‘capacity building’ relationships (Lingard, 2004).