Carlson, J.L. (2002). What is happening to our children? Using literature as a bridge from student disaffection to school. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2002). Dissertation Abstract International, 62 (7-A), 2372.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to analyze and describe how four white working class boys who are disaffected with school responded to literature and literacy activities integrated in a special reading class. The literature and literacy activities were used as a bridge to connect them to school. Data were collected over the course of a unit in a special reading class. The data sources included field notes, formal and informal interviews of the students, student artifacts, including their blank books and classroom work, audio tapes of discussion, instruction, and most classroom interactions, video tapes of group work and presentations. The notion of disaffected youth has only recently been brought to the forefront due to school violence. What does it take to create a nurturing school culture that empowers the young effectively in the face of alienation (Bruner, 1996)? How do we come to understand how literacy can develop within students encounters with others about texts (Egan-Robertson, 1998, p. 483)? And, how can this notion scaffold to a strong sense of personhood in the face of school culture are important future studies to research. This study looks at the possibilities of using literature as a bridge from disaffected boys and their invisible child (Paterson, 2000) to school. Analysis of the data indicated that throughout the course of the unit, the literature and accompanying activities in this unit all promoted the discussion that outlined three specific themes. They were the issues of: (1) school social groups, (2) difference, (3) self-perception. The literature and literacy activities in this study seemed to provide the four focal boys with a connection to school and school community. Each literacy activity provided outlines and clues to what was meaningful to the boys. Well chosen literature may provide a bridge for disaffected students to begin to talk about their role in school culture and provide meaningful connections to school related activities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)