Time Space Paths in Alternative Educational Settings: A Comparative Analysis of Finland and Australia

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 10:50
Oral Presentation
Helen STOKES, University of Melbourne, Australia
Sanna AALTONEN, Finnish Youth Research Society, Finland
We will use the concept of time space paths (Gordon, Holland and Lahelma, 2000) to compare how young people negotiate educational pathways and experience educational success in alternative settings in Finland and Australia. Gordon et al (2000) explore the impact of tight time space paths in mainstream school settings on young people’s attitudes to and success in school life. For many young people in alternative settings these tight time space paths (eg. attending school on time) led to their disengagement from mainstream school settings as the mainstream schools did not accommodate the lives and needs of these young people.

The Finnish data consists of three group interviews with the staff as well as 23 biographical one-off interviews with 11 girls and 12 boys that were conducted during autumn 2008 in three Helsinki based special education programs targeted for 15 to 17 year olds. The Australian data consists of 50 interviews with program staff and seven biographical interviews conducted 3 times throughout 2012 (21 interviews in total) with five females and two males aged between 13 and 16 years in alternative education settings in metropolitan and regional areas in Victoria.

Gordon et al (2000) make the distinction in mainstream schools between official school (tight time space paths) and informal school (loose time space paths). The development of positive relationships (often through loose time space paths) is a key to keeping the young people engaged but the young people need more than this to experience educational success, something they have not been able to achieve in mainstream settings. We discuss therefore how the alternative educational settings provide a mixture of tight and loose time space paths that meet the life style needs of the young people and assist with providing them a successful renegotiated educational future.