A comparative study of the views of disruptive students in England and the United States
The thesis investigates the views of disruptive students in two schools in England and the United States. In both countries considerable recent attention has been given to such groups of students. They have been seen as an oppositional group and much media attention has been directed towards them as a possible threat to good order in schools and society. Little attention has been given to the views of the students themselves. The conceptual and practical problems for a comparative study of the phenomenon are fIrstly outlined. These relate to context (time and space), to defInition, to cause and the lack of acknowledgement of the views of disruptive students within school systems, A theoretical framework is then constructed, based upon the concept of the ecosystem, as defmed by Bronfenbrenner. Twelve students, termed disruptive by teachers in the two schools, are identified. Data is obtained, using qualitative methodology, concerning students' views on four aspects of school-life: the curriculum, their teachers, disruptive behaviour and school organisation. Data is analysed in two ways: by considering the 'ecosystemic experience' of the student and then by outlining a 'continuum of responses'. The first approach illustrated that disruptive students in both schools suggested that interactions within the 'microsystem' and the 'mesosystem' inform their views about school. The second suggests that the views of the students concerning school were sometimes similar to those of their teachers, and they are frequently expressed in positive terms. The study then outlines three issues which may be important in arguing for more advocacy for disruptive students: the discrepancies between micro- and macro-theorising, the gap between the rhetoric of school organisation and the experiences of the students, and the non-oppositional stance frequently adopted by the students. Each indicates some potential for including disruptive students' views in aspects of school organisation.