Going visiting: University and young people who have experienced disengagement from education

Year: 2012

Author: Harwood, Valerie, Uptin, Jonnell

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Going visiting, as we will outline, is crucially important for young peoples' imagination of university education. Yet this can require much more than phsycially visiting a university. Coined by Hannah Arendt (1981) to refer to an activity of imagination, going visiting can enable us to “think with an enlarged mentality”. For Arendt this was vital for participation in the public realm, and provided an important link between the activity of thought and the activity in the public realm (Harwood, 2010). Taking up this idea, in this paper the imagination and 'going visiting' is considered in relation to how university is understood by young people from disadvantaged communities traditionally underrepresented at university. The paper will show how Arendt's (1981) concept of the productive imagination and the creation of new concepts provides a way to grasp the processes required to imagine something new, which in many cases means demands imagining remaining in schooling and conceiving of the possibility of university. The paper discusses how young people with disadantaged educational histories do imagine university, and often do so in ways that are negative of university and preclude their participation. The value of using the productive imagination to generate new concepts to connect education and aspirations for university is outlined.