Voices from the Margins: The Stories of Vocational High School Students

Voices from the Margins: The Stories of Vocational High School Students

Voices from the Margins: The Stories of Vocational High School Students

Voices from the Margins: The Stories of Vocational High School Students


"Voices from the Margins is an examination of the school experiences of twenty working-class students in vocational high schools. Recognizing the complexity and the significance of these school participant's' experiences enriches our understanding of the hierarchical distribution of power structures within schools. At the heart of the book are the words of the participants who took part in the phenomenological interview process. They talk frankly about their lives in school and reflect on the meanings that they drew from their experiences. What is truly remarkable about their stories is that the majority of the participants interviewed never gave up their struggles to overcome the barriers that were preventing them from attaining their rightful places within the school. By telling their stories they are informing us about what is happening to the disempowered in schools." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


This is a book about stories—stories told by school participants whose voices are rarely if ever heard in examinations of the relations between class, socialization, and institutional segregation in schools. The voices belong to students who have selected vocational education as their choice for secondary schooling. Their voices are situated in their own contexts. They provide the insider accounts of linkages and ruptures between expectation and authority within their school experiences. Their voices are fluent and rich in their expression of how their lives have been shaped by differential standards and values with regard to criteria, performance, and behavior. They are often able to pinpoint the very ruptures within the family socialization and schooling that educators, social workers, and administrators are either unable or unwilling to acknowledge.

Grounding the Stories in Theory

Understanding the Concept of Power

In order to understand the participants' stories about the places they occupied within school and the connections between those places and marginalization, voice, and accessing school literacy as components of empowerment, it is necessary to have an understanding of the concept of power within society, in general, and within schools, specifically. Becoming a person is a social, cultural, and psychological production. Who one is, how one's identity is formed as a classed, gendered, and raced person, happens in specific economic, political, and cultural circumstances. Schools play a major role in the process of identity formation (Apple, 1995).

Being able to conceptionalize power allows for a frame of reference in the exploration of the distribution of power. It would be impossible to give serious attention to those who are powerless, if power and the people . . .

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