Along with Sarah Holloway and Helena Pimlott-Wilson (both at Loughborough University), I have recently edited a special issue of the journal Children’s Geographies on the theme of Education and Aspiration.
The papers in this special issue originated from the Geographies of Education conference held at Loughborough in September 2009. In addition to my paper on the “Emotional geographies of young people’s aspirations for adult life”, the issue contains papers exploring importance of discourses around aspiration in higher education (see papers by myself; and Hinton); in the compulsory years of schooling (see papers by Bright; Butler and Hamnett; Holloway and Pimlott-Wilson; and Purcell); and in diverse forms of family-based learning (see papers by Wainwright and Marandet; and Pimlott-Wilson).
As we state in the editorial piece (Holloway, Brown and Pimlott-Wilson 2011: 3), the special issue has three aims:
“Firstly, we want to explore the roles of different institutions and actors in shaping and implementing neo-liberal education policies which affect the lives of young people and their families.”
“Secondly, we are hoping to further incorporate young people and their families into geographies of education by producing class-differentiated and regionally-specific analyses of parents’ and young people’s aspirations for education.”
“Thirdly, we hope to show how young people’s and their families’ aspirations exceed the limits of the discourse on aspiration identified in neo-liberal policy discourse.”
We conclude the editorial introduction stating, optimistically, that
“Our hope is, that as geographers expand their studies of education and aspiration, they will not only extend emerging critiques of how young people’s aspirations have become the object of neoliberal policy interventions, but will also delink the strong association of aspirations with material wealth, educational qualifications and professional employment to explore the range of potential futures that children aspire to realise.” (Holloway, Brown and Pimlott-Wilson 2011: 4).
We welcome feedback on the special issue.