Smyth, John, Robinson, Janean and McInerney, Peter (2014) It's our turn – young people ‘tilting’ the neoliberal turn. Journal of Youth Studies, 17 (4). pp. 492-509. ISSN 1367-6261

Education is an important and defining element in young people's lives. When conceived properly, it has the potential to transform opportunities and life chances. It hardly comes as news that in recent times the authors have witnessed the inappropriate intrusion into education of notions of school reform that while they might arguably be in the national economic interest, are highly questionable from the vantage point of young people. In this paper, the authors present some counter-narratives from a group of young Australians who have ‘disengaged’ or been ‘shoved’ out of school and who resumed learning under a very different set of conditions to those that exiled them. Through the comments from young people, the authors construct an account of how they came to be categorised as ‘at-risk’ in the first place, what this pathologising meant to them, and how an alternative approach that invested them with power enabled a more positive identity formation to occur. Notwithstanding its altruistic intent and more humane approach, the authors remain unconvinced on the larger question of ‘re-engagement to where?’ for these young people, and whether the fundamentals have been sufficiently unsettled to enable them a different trajectory.

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