Schooling the Smash Street Kids Book Review

Paul Corrigan’s ‘Schooling the smash street kids’ takes the ever problematic issues of education and youth and provides a glimpse into it from the other side of the street. Impulsive, informal and unorthodox in writing style, Corrigan talks as if you were an old friend, pulling you in and gently nudging your opinions with personal memories. His work was based in the gritty north-east city of Sunderland, studying 14-15 year old boys in two schools with very different levels of facilities but both with undoubtedly working class pupils.
This book does not start with a hypothesis and then test it but arranges each chapter around a relevant question, i. e. why do kids muck about in class, and answers that question at the beginning of the chapter using existing theories and another way at the end showing the process of the sociological research that had been completed. The nature of the book is to discuss youths and the system of education in 1970s Britain and to highlight problems faced everyday in the classroom by teachers and pupils alike.
The book is aimed at giving a voice to those in similar situations, teachers that are struggling to engage the tough to handle children that they teach and those in government that can change it so they can ‘see some point in education itself’ (page 153). Schooling the smash street kids provides real insight to problems that need solutions drawn from actual research that was carried out in schools by the author.

Paul Corrigan was able to do this in an effective way as he did not project himself to the pupils as a teacher or an authority figure, but as an author who was writing a book about the students and they were his only reason for being there. This in turn created trust between them and he was therefore able to conduct much more meaningful research that may have not been obtained had he taken on a more authoritative persona.
Although the style of the book is written in a way that can be understood and interpreted by people of different abilities and from different backgrounds, holds the readers attention and gets its information across in a succinct and interesting way, the chatty and informal nature of the writing could be a flaw. It may not be taken as a serious piece of research due to this and could lose some credibility among academics, when in fact it could provide significant findings to the field of research.
Overall, this book is an easy and interesting read and may be useful to students starting out in the field of criminology, to grasp basic understandings. The book is well organised in structure and incorporates personal experiences and statistics which helps drives home its purpose, to change and improve the schooling system and give a, albeit a small, platform to those and others in a similar position, that Corrigan encounters.

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