Working Papers in Educational Linguistics (WPEL)




Over a ten-month period of linguistic ethnographic research in three secondary schools in central Italy, I conducted interviews with third-year students about how they came to choose the school they currently attend. Students told of chance encounters, moments of madness, institutional pressures, and social expectations, often hinting at tumultuous narratives. Since the three secondary school types in this research—lyceums, technical schools, and vocational schools—are popularly believed to attract specific types of students, interviews and everyday metacommentary (Rymes, 2014) about the schools and the people inside them hold great social importance. In this paper, I consider how the school choice decisions of these students—as told to me in the form of short narratives occurring in interview contexts—intersect with local ideologies and figures of personhood (Agha, 2011) associated with each school.