Review Blog

May 17 2011

Hope: the everyday and imaginary life of young people on the margins by Simon Robb et al.

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Wakefield Press, Adelaide; 2010.
This publication came about as a result of a University of Adelaide Research Project from 2006-8 titled Doing Social Sustainability: the utopian image of youth on the margins in schools.
The material was collected using a variety of methodologies including visual anthropology. Photo-elicitation was used with subjects being given disposable cameras to record aspects of their life, so the book has many photographs and drawings.
The book is roughly divided into three sections, with the young people telling their stories, then teachers working in their schools give their opinions, and finally the four researchers give summaries from their viewpoints.
The preface talks about the complexities of hope and states 'some of this material might confront the reader, assault our gentle sensibilities '. The young people certainly do that with statements such as 'I don't trust anyone,' 'I don't reckon the world is going to be around much longer,' and 'when I think about hope I think about dope plants.' However there are alternate views expressed, such as 'hope is a new beginning' and 'I want a home and an everyday life like you see in an f--- movie.'
Teachers talk of the difficulty of educating in schools in poorer socio-economic areas, with one saying; 'You had a persona that you've had for 20 odd years, and you've got to drop it because it doesn't work here and it's very confronting.' The importance of relationships for young people is a constant and the hopefulness of teaching is based around 'relationships of openness, friendship and caring.'
This would be a useful book for new teachers to read, so as to have some understanding of what the world looks like to students growing up on the margins of society. The book or even just chapters of it could also be used in personal development lessons with older secondary students.
Kay Haarsma

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