The Disgusted Notice the Disgusting: Being Homeless and the Sullied Schooling of the Street

  • Frances Atherton University of Chester
Keywords: Educational alternatives, progressive education, alternative education, difference, educational theory, educational philosophy, home education, education policy


The brutality of life on the street is explored in this paper with a young homeless couple and the ragged community of which they are a part. Destitution, prostitution, drugs and crime sculpt their lives and identify them as the symbolic edge of society, the boundary of civilisation, at the cultural margins, where subsistence is in a state of decomposition. Deserving of adversity? Theirs is a bordered being which seems to inspire a remarkable fortitude. They defy their abjected state with a Nietzschean determination for a kind of redemption in this life. Paradoxically, however damaged and broken their lives, however pitilessly rejection is dealt to them, however ravaged they are by what I would describe as the education of the street; this bleak place is often suffused with tenderness and compassion, intensely enacted and understood. How these moments variously unfold, frequently in searingly public places, is offered here and affords a glimpse of a life few could endure.


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