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Staying at school: reflective narratives of resistance and transition

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My narrative inquiry in this paper explores the experience of a young woman from a disadvantaged background who struggled to stay at school. This student's story is embedded within a larger story, drawn from a longitudinal study of 250 senior students and their struggle to stay at school. The intersection of the student's school, home and personal stories provide a very personal insight into the lived experience of this struggle, negotiated within the context of the institutional narrative. The student's story is considered in two ways. First, consideration as a narrative of resistance provides a way to explore the impact of social influences on the very personal narratives of people in marginalised social positions. Second, consideration as a narrative of transition provides a way to acknowledge the storyteller's reflections as she accounted for her accommodation of changing goals, negotiated her learning space and translated her home life. Interrogating the narrative coherence of this student's story through the twin lens of resistance and transition opened the way for new thinking about the struggle to stay at school. This approach allows opportunities for looking beyond the dominant retention narrative to consider other, marginal and illuminating narrative understandings of this complex problem, embedded as it is within a dynamic social context.

Keywords: narrative; reflective; resilience; resistance; retention; transition

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Education, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley 6050, Western Australia

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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