chapter  3
It's All About Relationships: Growing a Community of College-Oriented Migrant Youth
Pages 22

A major assumption underlying the research presented in this volume is that learning in school is not simply an individual matter; it occurs in interaction with others and cannot be separated from the social worlds that children inhabit (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Rogoff, 1990, 2003). Students’ sense of fitting in and being comfortable in school and their decisions about applying themselves to their studies are constructed, negotiated, and reconstructed on an ongoing basis through their relationships with both peers and teachers. From this premise-that learning is a social process and that it occurs through active participation within social communities-it follows that the nature of one’s membership within a classroom or school community plays a critical role in shaping one’s manner of participation. As is evident from the educational research literature, a sense of belonging and acceptance enhances participation in school and ultimately learning (Osterman, 2000). Marginality, on the other hand, restricts participation and can hinder or even foreclose opportunities for learning (Wenger, 1998).