Engaging disengagement: a political view of school disengagement

Antonio Portela Pruaño, University of Murcia 







Engagement and participation are placed in the core of democratic citizenship. Lower levels of civic and political engagement among younger people pervade many countries and have given rise to a major concern. Student disengagement from schooling is another major, pervading concern. Whereas school is deemed a crucial means to incorporate students into society, a consequence of such disengagement is exclusion from school. In addition, measures taken to develop involvement among the young are insuficient. Linkages between these two forms of disengagement will be explored. School engagement is considered to be multi-dimensional. This contribution will argue for a broadened understanding of student engagement and its counterpart, disengagement, that considers their political character. Firstly, democratic citizenship will be briely delineated whilst emphasising the relevance of engagement to it. An analysis and problematisation of mainstream discourse on relevant forms of engagement and disengagement will follow. Using a framework drawing on French philosopher Jacques Ranciere, school disengagement is then proposed as a form of political agency in education, schools and its broader environment. To conclude, implications for school leadership (and student involvement in it) will be raised.


Keywords: citizenship, democracy, engagement/ disengagement in education, Jacques Rancière 



Download full