Pedagogically constructing the future worker: The usefulness of two classroom case-studies in studying identities and 'transition'

Year: 2004

Author: Yates, Lyn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In an ARC-funded project, Yates, Solomon, Chappell and Tennant are studying pedagogical constructions of new vocational identity across two industry types (hospitality and information technology) and across different education settings: school, TAFE, private provider, work-based, university, community college. This paper is drawn from a case-study of one school, in which hospitality and IT are each offered as subjects which can be take for dual accreditation (towards a HSC/TER score; and as a Certificate 2 Training competency). The study used interviews with teachers and students, observations, and analysis of documentary materials to show that different worker identities are being emphasized in the two classes, and that these in turn draw on different experiences and identities of the teachers of the two subjects; conflicting epistemologies of the two assesssment regimes; and different student cohorts in the two subjects. The comparative site-based methodological approach taken in this project helps to explore the continued salience of two different types of theoretical takes on young people and 'transition': the Bourdieuean perspectives on schooling, cultural capital and 'reproduction'; and the attention paid by du Gay, Gee, Rose, Solomon and others to changing forms of identity work for vocational purposes in 'new times'. The paper argues that those who most easily meet the rhetoric of the 'new vocationalism' are the students least identified as vocationally oriented; and raises questions about the extent to which class and gender dispositions are presumed as well as reproduced in the new initiatives.