Theses Doctoral

Undocumented Educations: Everyday Educational Practices of Recently Immigrated Youth Beyond Inclusion/exclusion

Corson, Jordan

Undocumented educations are those educational practices falling outside of legitimated educational institutions or appearing only in marginalized, liminal ways. Through resisting, conflicting with, or simply not fitting into the grammar of school they do not “count” as education. Those educations, and thus the everyday lives of those who practice them, are routinely placed “at-risk.” Often, policymakers and educators propose reforms to this issue, aiming to more effectively include or ensure stronger academic outcomes for populations of students whose educational lives have been marked in precarious ways. Working with 9 recently immigrated youth in New York City, this project explores such undocumented educations in youth’s everyday lives in order to open new understandings of what counts, who counts, and in what ways, in educational discourses. Rather than joining the chorus of reform efforts, I listen to the rigorous, wild, and ethereal educational practices already present in youth’s lives.

This project takes up entangled methods of an affective ethnography and a history of the present. Historical work explores prevalent discourses around the education of “newcomer” youth to interrogate how this educational truth came to flourish as an intervention for newcomer youth. Affective ethnography, meanwhile, moves through many places exploring sensations, intensities, and encountering everyday educations and their relationship to the educational life of the school. An affective ethnography opens space to work with youth in exploring educations largely illegible to dominant discourses without submitting these educational practices to new forms of control.

Results suggest that linguistically and culturally affirmative schools emerge from understandings of how to better include and improve outcomes for newcomer youth. At the same time, political shifts require schools to constantly evolve to continue pursuing these ideas. Youths’ educational practices change and move through spaces like school or afterschool programs but also connect and flow in a borderless curriculum that challenges the supremacy of educational projects built dominantly on inclusion and success. Failure, daydreaming, and experimentation all play critical roles in youth’s everyday lives. The project ultimately concludes that listening to the already-present everyday educational practices of immigrant youth makes a radically different, ungoverned educational otherwise possible.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Friedrich, Dani
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 27, 2020