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Rethinking mis/behaviour in schools: From 'youth as a problem' to the 'relational school'

Down, B.ORCID: 0000-0003-4843-0563 (2016) Rethinking mis/behaviour in schools: From 'youth as a problem' to the 'relational school'. In: Sullivan, A., Johnson, B. and Lucas, B., (eds.) Challenging Dominant Views on Student Behaviour at School. Springer Singapore, pp. 77-95.

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Young people today, especially those from circumstances of 'disadvantage' and poverty, are disengaging and switching off school at alarming rates. Feelings of alienation created by a loss of meaning and purpose in education are a fertile ground for a host of behavioural issues in schools. From passive resistance (low quality work, absenteeism, sullen hostility, sluggishness and apathy) to more overt conflict (vandalism, violence, bullying and aggression), schools are grappling with the burgeoning problem of mis/behaviour. The most common explanations for these troubles are around individual deficits: dysfunctional families and communities, linguistic shortcomings, lack of motivation, low IQ, lack of respect, drug and alcohol abuse, and so on. The policy response of schools has been driven in the main by managerialist approaches to 'fix' the internal deficiencies of the 'troublemakers' rather than addressing the underlying causes of student disaffection. This chapter starts from a different place by arguing that a more progressive response lies in critically analysing the structural and institutional arrangements of schooling in which students' lives, identities and behaviours are shaped. A central contention is that mis/behaviour is not necessarily some kind of pathological or irrational failure on the part of individuals but a form of 'creative maladjustment' to boredom and oppressive authority born out of a fundamental 'conflict of desires'. The chapter offers a spirit of critique and possibility as it attempts to explain what's happening in schools and what might be done about it.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Springer Singapore
Copyright: Springer Science+Business Media Singapore
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