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School Is for Meeting Friends: Secondary School as Lived and Remembered

Elina Lahelma
British Journal of Sociology of Education
Vol. 23, No. 3 (Sep., 2002), pp. 367-381
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1393432
Page Count: 15
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School Is for Meeting Friends: Secondary School as Lived and Remembered
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Abstract

The present article discusses young people's manifold and ambivalent feelings towards school as an institution, and towards their own school in particular. The questions are explored using different kinds of data: associations and metaphors that students provided on 'school', their reflections on an ideal school and their own school, as well as memories of secondary school a few years later. It draws on an ethnographic research in secondary schools and on a longitudinal life-history study in which the transitions of the same young people to post-16 education are traced. The empirical conclusions concerning students' perceptions on school are presented with four interlikned themes: students' lack of autonomy, the importance of informal relations, the importance of space and time in school, and the complexities of gender patterns. The article also raises a methodological question on nostalgia in memories--especially in ethnographers' memories.

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