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Negotiating Capabilities: A New School Design for Transition to Work

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Arts-based Practices with Young People at the Edge

Abstract

Across Australia tens of thousands of young people find themselves in a range of alternative education programmes to address their lack of success in making a transition from school to work. Despite some individual success stories that are the common trope of alternative education settings, it is often hard to quantify the success of the programmes or even point to the curriculum that engages with young people as they make the choices that enable them to live a life that they have reason to value and is of value to others. The literature on such programmes concentrates on the positives of students finding a place where they can fit in, whilst bemoaning the possibility that these programmes are a dead end where troubled students are effectively warehoused. This chapter addresses a gap in the literature by focusing on an in-depth case study of a new school established to deal with young people who have had interrupted transitions between the end of schooling and successful stable work. It aims to examine the establishment of the school from the lived reality of the students and what they bring into the space and how they relate to curriculum and pedagogy.

For thirteen months I engaged with a new school established as an alternative education provision for young people who had not made successful transitions to work. I observed and interacted with the students as they went through their day and the learning programme, took field notes, conducted interviews and photographed the site. Many participants in this site continued to experience adversity in the community due to mental health issues, family breakdowns and the risks inherent in being on the edge of community. In common with other alternative education placements, this new school design engendered a sense of belonging in some of the young people. The young people I engaged with brought to the site practices, knowledge and ideas that have helped them continue to negotiate adverse circumstances. Portraits of two participants give a close-up view of the negotiations that the young people need to go through in order to navigate their social, educational and economic lives.

The new school design engendered a sense of belonging and developed a pedagogy of care that supported the young people in their endeavours to find a place where they fitted in. I argue that the pedagogy of care and wellbeing needs to be expanded by an understanding of the social and economic circumstances that brought the young people to the new school design to start with. I propose that a capabilities approach to education will be important in developing within the young people the freedoms to make the choices that will enable them to lead a life they have reason to value.

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    An online employment marketplace.

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Correspondence to Nigel Howard .

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Howard, N. (2022). Negotiating Capabilities: A New School Design for Transition to Work. In: Price, D., MacGill, B., Carter, J. (eds) Arts-based Practices with Young People at the Edge . Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-04345-1_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-04345-1_7

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-04344-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-031-04345-1

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