Alternative education caters and cares for students whose regular schools have failed and excluded them. Fifty years of international research reports that alternative settings are characterised by close and powerful staff–student relationships, a curriculum which is relevant, engaging and meaningful, and the strong sense of agency afforded young people by the opportunity to make decisions. Together, these three practices produce increased life chances for alternative education participants.
However, despite these apparent successes, alternative education seems to have had little impact on mainstream schools. This collection of papers addresses the important question – what might regular schools and teachers learn about socially just pedagogies from alternative education practices? In providing answers to this question, authors interrogate the taken-for-granted wisdom about alternative education while also taking account of ongoing policy shifts, differing locations and populations, and persistent and intersecting patterns of raced, classed and gendered inequalities. They draw on a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to interrogate the ways in which alternative schools and alternative education both challenge and legitimate the kinds of schooling most of us expect for our own and other people's children.
The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Critical Studies in Education.
Introduction. Alternative programmes, alternative schools and social justice 1. Cracking with affect: relationality in young people’s movements in and out of mainstream schooling 2. Young black males: resilience and the use of capital to transform school ‘failure’ 3. Caught between a rock and a hard place: disruptive boys’ views on mainstream and special schools in New South Wales, Australia 4. ‘It’s the best thing I’ve done in a long while’: teenage mothers’ experiences of educational alternatives 5. Meaningful education for returning-to-school students in a comprehensive upper secondary school in Iceland 6. Disciplinary regimes of ‘care’ and complementary alternative education 7. Alternative education and social justice: considering issues of affective and contributive justice 8. The force of habit: channelling young bodies at alternative education spaces 9. Teachers’ work and innovation in alternative schools