Troubling notions of risk: Dissensus, dissonance, and making sense of students and learning

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This article troubles constructions of 'at-risk students.' Utilizing Rancière's discussion of dissensus, the author first argues that what is at risk are not students but contemporary common sense notions of schooling. From this perspective, students' labeled as 'at risk' ways of knowing and being that interrupt ideas and ideals about the purpose and function of schooling. In order to make this argument, the author links Rancière and others' discussions of the importance of dissensus to questions of sense-making, the dangers of resonance in consensus, and the possibilities in the dissonance of dissensus. These assertions are then further complicated by the assertion that education is a necessarily risky endeavor and that all students should be placed at risk of learning. Understanding all students as at risk is significant as it simultaneously provides a space for students' complex constellations of identity to be treated with dignity in learning experiences and creates a less punitive context in which differences are less likely to be conceptualized as deficits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-373
Number of pages13
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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