Individual Presentation or Panel Title

Making a Way: Counternarratives of School Achievement

Abstract

School achievement is contested terrain. The metanarrative on success in high school is bounded by time (4 years) and measurements (graduation) (Tierney & Colyar, 2009). For populations of students that have historically been marked as “at risk,” these boundaries do not represent the realities of their lives, rendering them artificial markers of success. In this presentation, I share counterstories of school achievement from three women who graduated from high school as mothers. This work is drawn from a larger qualitative study that examined the tensions between metanarratives on school success and the lived experiences of teenage mothers in high school.

This presentation explores the counterstories (Delgado-Bernal, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 1995) that emerged in the narrative of each participant’s experiences as a teenage mother in high school. With an orientation towards inquiry over proof, this session highlights the ways in which three young mothers in high school pushed back and challenged metanarratives of school success. With counterstories that aligned around the concept of making a way, participants contested the terrain of “achievement” and presented alternative ways of knowing about school success. By reflecting on the historical and cultural significance of making a way, as well as the participants’ own enactments of the phrase, session attendees are invited to explore the lived realities that the participants presented in contrast to the metanarratives of what their experiences “should” have been.

Presentation Description

This presentation explores counterstories about achievement from three young women who graduated from high school as mothers. With personal narratives and striking vignettes at the fore, the participants’ counterstories shed new light on what it means to be “successful” in high school and perhaps more importantly, how one achieves that “success.” This presentation will offer insights on the contested metanarrative of school success from the perspective of three women who received their high school diplomas, but achieved much more.

Keywords

School achievement, counterstories, "at risk" students

Location

Forsyth

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Jun 9th, 9:30 AM Jun 9th, 10:45 AM

Making a Way: Counternarratives of School Achievement

Forsyth

School achievement is contested terrain. The metanarrative on success in high school is bounded by time (4 years) and measurements (graduation) (Tierney & Colyar, 2009). For populations of students that have historically been marked as “at risk,” these boundaries do not represent the realities of their lives, rendering them artificial markers of success. In this presentation, I share counterstories of school achievement from three women who graduated from high school as mothers. This work is drawn from a larger qualitative study that examined the tensions between metanarratives on school success and the lived experiences of teenage mothers in high school.

This presentation explores the counterstories (Delgado-Bernal, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 1995) that emerged in the narrative of each participant’s experiences as a teenage mother in high school. With an orientation towards inquiry over proof, this session highlights the ways in which three young mothers in high school pushed back and challenged metanarratives of school success. With counterstories that aligned around the concept of making a way, participants contested the terrain of “achievement” and presented alternative ways of knowing about school success. By reflecting on the historical and cultural significance of making a way, as well as the participants’ own enactments of the phrase, session attendees are invited to explore the lived realities that the participants presented in contrast to the metanarratives of what their experiences “should” have been.