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Talking with their feet : student absenteeism and compulsory schooling

Edwards, Julie, Gale, Trevor and Murphy, Elizabeth 2003, Talking with their feet : student absenteeism and compulsory schooling, in Teachers as leaders : teacher education for a global profession: International yearbook on teacher education, 2003 World Assembly Proceedings, International Council on Education for Teaching, Wheeling, Ill., pp. 152-163.

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Title Talking with their feet : student absenteeism and compulsory schooling
Author(s) Edwards, Julie
Gale, Trevor
Murphy, Elizabeth
Conference name ICET World Assembly (48th : 2003 : Melbourne, Vic.)
Conference location Melbourne, Vic.
Conference dates 20-25 Jul. 2003
Title of proceedings Teachers as leaders : teacher education for a global profession: International yearbook on teacher education, 2003 World Assembly Proceedings
Editor(s) [Unknown]
Publication date 2003
Conference series ICET World Assembly
Start page 152
End page 163
Total pages 12
Publisher International Council on Education for Teaching
Place of publication Wheeling, Ill.
Summary Universal access to elementary schooling is a goal that was largely achieved in western democracies by the mid twentieth century. Yet, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, students’ access to schooling appears to be back on the agenda; this time, students themselves rather than our social systems are regulating their access to school. Increasingly, schools throughout Australia and in several other OECD countries are recording a worrying decline in student attendance in the compulsory years, prompting a certain amount of societal ‘fear’, ‘anxiety’ and ‘moral panic’. This paper reviews the literature on student attendance and absenteeism as a feature of contemporary schooling. It begins with an account of how this literature variously defines absenteeism – its discursive categories – and where it locates the ‘problem’. The ‘solutions’ that flow from these accounts are also explicated, specifically in relation to their regulatory effects on students and on the education they are offered. The paper’s critical reading of these problems of and solutions for student absenteeism seeks to highlight the institutional authoring of such student behaviour and of students as ‘other’. It also uncovers the silences in the literature, particularly in relation to cultural difference, student subjectivity and teacher pedagogy – what teachers are doing (and not doing) to/with students. The paper concludes that issues of low socio-economic status do not feature very loudly in the literature (and, we suspect, in practice), despite being strongly associated with students who respond to the demands and relevance of schooling by ‘talking with their feet’.
Notes Reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright owner.
Language eng
Field of Research 139999 Education not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education
HERDC Research category E1.1 Full written paper - refereed
Copyright notice ©2003, ICET
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30040906

Document type: Conference Paper
Collections: School of Education
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