Schooling and Livelihood: Youth Research and Action

Year: 1985

Author: Wilson, Bruce, Wyn, Johanna

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

School leavers in the 1980's have had to find employment in the face of rapid changes and deteriorating conditions in the youth labour market. Yet young people continue to show an eagerness to find paid employment as it remains the most important means for establishing themselves as adult members of society. Their opportunities to achieve this objective remain sharply influenced by the entrenched forms of social division in Australian society.

The implications of these trends have been cause for debate about the directions of educational policies and programs. The existing policies have proved to have little effect in changing the overall pattern of outcomes from schooling. Our research suggests that this reflects, at least in part, an inadequate understanding of the social processes producing division and unequal outcomes. Our research would indicate that the focus of programs for change should be on the social relations of division and the interaction between class, gender and ethnicity.

An example of this approach in practice is to be found in projects in which young people undertake research and formulate plans for action on the basis of the results of their research in an area which is related to their everyday experience. Numerous examples of this approach are currently being implemented in Victorian schools. An account of one such project will be provided.