This study explores the stories and experiences of second-generation Portuguese Canadian secondary school students in Southern Ontario, Canada. The purpose of this
research was to understand the educational experiences of students, specifically the
successes, challenges, and struggles that the participants faced within the education
system. Questions were also asked about identity issues and how participants perceived
their identities influencing their educational experiences.
Six Portuguese Canadian students in grades 9 to 11 were interviewed twice. The
interviews ranged from 45 minutes to 90 minutes in length. Data analysis of qualitative,
open-ended interviews, research journals, field notes and curricular documents yielded
understandings about the participants' experiences and challenges in the education
system. Eight themes emerged from data that explored the realities of everyday life for
second-generatiop Portuguese Canadian students. These themes include: influences of
part-time work on schooling, parental involvement, the teacher is key, challenges and
barriers, the importance of peers, Portuguese Canadian identity, lack of focus on identity
in curricul:um content, and the dropout problem.
Recommendations in this study include the need for more community-based
programs to assist students. Furthermore, teachers are encouraged to utilize strategies and curriculum resources that engage learners and integrate their histories and identities.
Educators are encouraged to question power dynamics both inside and outside
the school system. There is also a need for further research with Portuguese Canadian
students who are struggling in the education system as well as an examination of the
number of hours that students work.
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