chapter  8
19 Pages

Speaking and hearing in/exclusion

A young teenager, whom I will call Naomi, was explaining to me why she hated school so much. She began with words which I will never forget – ‘I spend the day being reminded of what I cannot do.’ This young woman had a troubled past. She was in temporary foster care and had had a chequered schooling history. She explained how the day would start with mathematics, which she could not follow and found impossible to do. Then there would be an English class. She said that she enjoyed reading, but that she struggled to read the set works. The books she could read were too ‘babyish’ for her and she was self-conscious about her lack of fluency when reading aloud. Break times offered no respite. She was experiencing difficulties navigating the social complexities of the cliques of girls in her new school, and her inappropriate social behaviour was resulting in her being increasingly ostracised. The weekly physical education class was the worst, she said. She was carrying excess weight, was not fit and had no previous exposure to the rules of games like netball or hockey. No one wanted her on their team. This bleak account of a school day that endlessly reinforced a sense of inadequacy was summed up in her words ‘No one understands what it’s like to be me.’