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ERIC Number: ED444133
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Apr
Pages: 24
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Problematising "Background": (Re)Constructing Categories in Educational Research.
Comber, Barbara
In educational research the problem of student description is eternal. On what basis do researchers make decisions about aspects of students' material lives to count as data, interpretive categories, contextual information, results? This paper focuses specifically on the problem of "background" in researching the student subject. The paper argues that young people's life-worlds and experiences are by no means "background" in their access to and take up of educational provision and school literacies, and that indeed there is a substantial case to be made in foregrounding student and school differences as research is conducted about new literate practices in new times. While "background" is used across research paradigms and approaches, the paper argues that the word (with its attendant abstract adjectives) may unleash powerful, at time dangerous, effects in educational sites, and that it is increasingly problematic in terms of what it implies about students' (and teachers') lifeworlds and subjectivities. The paper aims to open up a discussion about a specific discursive practice--the use of "background"--and to consider its effects in actual sites and to explore possible alternatives. Through an analysis of teachers' descriptions of their students, it discusses the limits and the dangers of employing "background" as a construct in these times, and it turns briefly to recent and current "naming" dilemmas to be faced in working with teachers and students in schools serving poor communities. (Contains 8 notes and 37 references.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia