Fish out of water : refugee and international students in mainstream Australian schools
Keywords139900 OTHER EDUCATION
critical discourse analysis (CDA)
discourse historical approach (DHA)
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AbstractIn this paper, the authors combine Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of hysteresis (the ‘fish out of water’ experience) with the discourse historical approach to critical discourse analysis (CDA) as a theoretical and analytical framework through which they examine specific moments in the schooling experiences of one refugee student and one international student, both enrolled in post-compulsory education in Australian mainstream secondary schools. We examine specific moments – as narrated by these students during interviews – in which these students can be described as ‘fish out of water’. As such, this paper takes up the concerns of researchers who call for an examination of the lived geographies and the everyday lives of individual students in mainstream schools. We find that our students’ habitus, conditioned by their previous schooling experiences in their home countries, did not match their new Australian schools, resulting in frustration with, and alienation from, their mainstream schools. However, we also note that schools, too, need to adapt and adjust their habitus to the new multicultural world, in which there are international and refugee students among their usual cohort of mainstream students.