Shaping Possible Futures in Portugal
Secondary education contrasts with the broad, and almost generalist logic underlying the Portuguese basic education curriculum, as it is based on knowledge specialisation. On entry to the secondary level (the tenth year of study), students have to choose a more focused educational path from a diverse range of options. At this critical moment in young people’s school trajectories that career guidance is available to every student in Portuguese schools, and it is provided by counsellors from different training backgrounds. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative empirical data collected within the project ‘Open Future: Uncertainty and Risk in School Choices’ (Vieira, 2016), complemented with additional qualitative material on career guidance counsellors, this chapter aims to explore the tension between the obligation to choose an occupational path within a framework of constraints—especially uncertainty and precariousness in a neoliberal labour market—imposed on all students by the education system andthe contemporary normative injunction to pursue authenticity (Taylor, 1991) and self-accomplishment, despite the risks (of failure) (Beck Beck-Gernsheim, 2001). Focusing specifically on the Portuguese context, we explore the perspectives of career guidance counsellors, as well as students, in this regard. At the end, we underline the challenges posed by the plurality of principles of justice and the limits placed on their practical application in schools.