chapter  6
23 Pages

„Learning to learn‟: making and breaking educational transitions

When we were studying in school we were young, we just had nothing going on in our heads [„veter v golove‟], we didn‟t know what we were studying for, for what reason. But here people grow up, they understand why you need to study, and if you need to, you can study. (Aleksei [Litsei], 20, Electrician)


Upon graduating from IVET colleges, the majority of the respondents were

pursuing newly accessible opportunities in further and higher education. It was

through these attempts at social mobility that they did not passively accept, but

actively contested the poverty of opportunity afforded by simple transitions into

work. This chapter explores the range of structural and individual level factors

which shaped the different plans the respondents were making in the educational sphere, as well as their ability to realize them. The chapter begins by outlining

how the construction of prospective transitions through further and higher

education was underpinned by the respondents‟ changing dispositions towards learning. While many had experienced education in secondary schools as some-

thing to be „got through‟ rather than „gone into‟, here it is argued that the learning environment provided by IVET colleges allowed the respondents to rebuild

„damaged‟ learner identities. In combination with an increasingly pragmatic view of education, positive learning experiences within the IVET system

brought about qualitative and sometimes profound changes in the respondents‟ subjective assessments as to the opportunities open to them through educational

channels. This process of „learning to learn‟ was reflected not only in the development of new dispositions and aspirations, but also in the identity work that

accompanied this, as respondents retold the „story of the self‟ to fit new directions in their transitions.