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Through city students' eyes: urban students' beliefs about school's purposes, supports and impediments

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Studying the 'visible curriculum' of city schools in the United States cannot begin with the assumption that students and teachers are, in fact, present in or graduating from these institutions. In the city setting in which this article's photographic investigation took place high school dropout rates have remained at or above 50% for better than three decades. Rather than concentrating narrowly on the curriculum of what can be seen in school, the research on which this article reports began with a photographic inquiry into urban youths' foundational perceptions of school itself, as well as the impediments and supports to school success of which these students are aware. This inquiry reveals some of the reasons behind the multi-generational community disengagement that have led to the strained relationship to schools represented by these graduation rate statistics. Grounded in critical pedagogy, 'new literacy' and visual sociology traditions, this study looked to visually based mechanisms for research tools with which city students are already proficient. The findings presented here suggest that not only can these tools provide previously inaccessible data on school detachment, they can also supply insights into what school means to these youth and what might support their re-engagement with these institutions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2007

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