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“Living on the Edge”: A Case of School Reform Working for Disadvantaged Young Adolescents


by John Smyth & Peter McInerney — 2007

This paper describes an instance of a disadvantaged (urban) Australian government school that realized it had little alternative but to try new approaches; ‘old ways’ were not working. The paper describes an ensemble of school reform practices, philosophies and strategies that give young adolescents genuine ownership of their learning. This school stands out as beacon that school reform is possible, even for young adolescents from the most difficult of circumstances. However, such approaches look markedly different from where mainstream educational reform is taking us at the moment.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 5, 2007, p. 1123-1170
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12864, Date Accessed: 10/19/2017 8:53:31 AM

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About the Author
  • John Smyth
    University of Ballarat
    E-mail Author
    JOHN SMYTH has recently been appointed Research Professor in Education, School of Education, University of Ballarat, Australia. In 2004–2005 he held the Roy F. & Joanne Cole Mitte Endowed Chair in School Improvement, College of Education, Texas State University-San Marcos. At the time of writing he was also Adjunct Professor, Charles Darwin University, and Visiting Professor, Wilf Malcolm Institute for Educational Research, Waikato University University. New Zeland. He expresses his grateful appreciation to the Australian Research Council and the Mitte Foundation for supporting this research. Recent books include ‘Dropping Out’, Drifting Off, Being Excluded: Becoming Somebody Without School (with Hattam and others, Peter Lang, 2004), Critical Politics of Teachers’ Work: An Australian Perspective (Peter Lang, 2001), and (with McInerney) Teachers in the Middle: Reclaiming the Wasteland of the Adolescent Years of Schooling (Peter Lang, 2007). His research interests include policy ethnography, sociology of teachers’ work, student voice, and critical approaches to school reform.
  • Peter McInerney
    University of Ballarat
    PETER MCINERNEY is a former high school teacher and is currently a research officer in the School of Education, University of Ballarat, and previously Flinders University in Australia, where he worked on various research projects. His recent book is entitled Making Hope Practical: School Reform for Social Justice (2004). Research interests include critical social theory, teachers’ work, and school reform.
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