Teenage parents at school: moving beyond the signified
In this presentation I share recent writing directed toward a rethinking of the movement of young people who are still at school into parenthood and the role of schools in responding to that movement. My specific focus is on teenage mothers: the 'teenage mother' signifier is, by default, a negative one. Working with the academic literature on teenage parenting, Deleuzian concepts and empirical research undertaken in Australia, I look to trouble this signifier by focusing on teenage parents, and schools, through a lens of 'becoming'. Becoming a parent, becoming-parent, is a very powerful threshold to cross (at whatever age it occurs). When the parenting threshold is crossed in the context of schools profound, enduring tensions are brought into play which challenge the limits of signifiers such as 'school,' 'teacher,' 'school girl,' 'adult' and 'child' signifiers that are created and sustained by the habitual operation of what Massumi (1992) refers to as The World As We Know It. The paper, recently published in an international collection A Critical Youth Studies for the 21st Century, considers the possibility of a productive movement in our thinking around the 'problem' of teenage parents.