Losing Touch: The Early School Leaving of Four Young Portuguese-Canadian Men
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Early school leaving continues to be an issue that garners much attention from administrators, educators, and academics. In this study I review the existing literature on risk factors relating to early school leaving while examining the role of social context on educational aspirations and expectations. Research findings (Alberta Learning, 2001; Ferguson, Tilleczek, Boydell, & Rummens, 2005; Satchwell, 2004) show that early school leaving is a long process of disengagement that arises from multiple factors associated with experiences both inside and outside of school. In this study I carry out a qualitative analysis of both school and non-school related risk factors deemed to be significant to the early leaving of four young Portuguese-Canadian men. Their stories attest to the complexity of the phenomenon as they affirm the impact of both school and non-school related factors on early school leaving such as irrelevant curriculum, learning community, socio-economic status, and social context. In recounting their stories, and analyzing them through Bourdieu and Passeron’s (1979) understanding of “cultural capital” and “habitus,” I provide insights in this study into how administrators, educators and policymakers, alike may make learning more meaningful and authentic in order to curb early school leaving.