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Children at play, Cambridge Street Primary School, Collingwood, c1980s. Photographer unknown. Yarra Libraries, CL PIC 190.
Children at play, Cambridge Street Primary School, Collingwood, c1980s. Photographer unknown. Yarra Libraries, CL PIC 190.

Making Futures: Generational Change, Youth Values and Education is a qualitative, longitudinal study of young people’s journeys through the final three years of secondary schooling and into the world beyond. Through this project, Professor Julie McLeod of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education aims to explore how young people, living in contrasting regions in Australia, navigate their educational, social and familial worlds and imagine and work towards their futures. The study seeks to understand the socially diverse ways in which young people make their lives over a crucial period of schooling, and how social and personal values form in interaction with schooling, families and location. It looks closely at how they engage in ethical thinking, and how their views do or do not change over this time, focussing on issues such as social inequality, citizenship, religion and immigration.

In particular, the project seeks to gain insight into their perceptions of gender relations and perspectives on diverse forms of social issues and differences. It takes a cross-generational and comparative approach to processes of youth identity and educational change: comparing young people’s perspectives today with their parents’ recollections of their own educational experiences and attitudes to similar issues. The project’s design provides immediate generational comparisons between parents’ recollections of their education and growing up with children’s contemporary experiences and views. Additionally, the project compares this current research with findings from and analyses of earlier studies of young people and schooling undertaken during the 1950s to 2000s. These include W.F. Connell’s 1957 work Growing Up in an Australian City; Making the Difference, a 1981 study by R.W. Connell et al.; and McLeod and Yates’s, Making Modern Lives (2006).

Themes and questions explored in the study include: cross-generational perspectives on gender relations; perceptions of social difference and views on social justice; memory, desire and schooling; the material/physical and affective cultures of school sites; temporalities and schooling.

Further information about the project, its methodologies, approach and research aims can be found in the project working paper.

Making Futures is the second part of the broader study, Youth Identity and Educational Change in Australia Since 1950: Digital Archiving, Re-using Qualitative Data and Histories of the Present, funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) [Project code: FT110100646]