Hegna, K. // Learner identities in vocational education and training – from school to apprenticeship
Journal article. Journal of Education and Work. 2019
The aim of this paper is to describe changing learner identities and trajectories of identification that take place among vocational education and training (VET) apprentices in Norway. This paper describes 23 young, male VET students’ learner identities in compulsory school (age 7–15) in comparison to their learner identities in VET apprenticeships (age 18–21), based on analyses of a set of biographical interviews about their schooling experiences. More specifically, the analysis describes changes in interviewees’ learner identities in their transition from school to apprenticeship. The analysis reveals that their narratives of being a student in school involved wounding educational experiences, such as negative student-teacher relationships, and feelings of failure and disengagement. At school, the participants’ learner identities were positional identities created in the shadow of the figured world of school, leading the students to individualised withdrawal. The narratives of their apprenticeship was characterised by a sense of belonging, feelings of equality to peers, independence and adulthood. The ‘adult working man’ identity is a disguised learning identity, in that it breaks with the wounded learner identity of the ‘failing student’ and thereby creates opportunities for active learning for apprentices, both as individuals and members of communities of practice.