Smyth, John and Hewitson, Robyn (2015) Critical voices from adolescent ‘shape shifters’ – accessing portraits in ‘Becoming Educated’. Children's Geographies, 13 (6). pp. 692-706. ISSN 1473-3285

What young people have to say about schooling can be most revealing, particularly when they expose and challenge the injustices and logic of school policies and practices. This paper captures voices from secondary school students from a school in Victoria, Australia, as part of a research project called Becoming Educated. The paper explores a particular geography of youth around the notion of ‘shape shifter’ as it relates to young people's education in two ways: first, in understanding the changing roles and identities of students as observers of, and participants in, education policies and practices; and second, as a way of interpreting the intent of those who ‘shape’ new ideas and policies to create a kind of ‘temporary alteration of outside appearances for the purpose of deception’ [Merchant, B. 1995. “Current Educational Reform: ‘Shape-shifting’ or Genuine Improvements in the Quality of Teaching and Learning?” Educational Theory 45 (2, Spring): 251–268]. The latter has a particularly significant impact on the former, and this paradox is not one that goes unnoticed by young people.