University Of Tasmania
Final Copy 1.pdf (214.75 kB)

Disrupting deficit: The power of 'the pause' in resisting the dominance of deficit knowledges in education

Download (214.75 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 02:27 authored by Nicoli BarnesNicoli Barnes
Deficit ways of speaking about educationally displaced young people are a dominant feature in the language educators draw on to make sense of particular young people. This language can have debilitating effects on the lives of those young people it is applied to. Despite well over 20 years of critique, deficit truths have remained dominant. However, in one Australian organisation, this dominance is being resisted. The resistance makes its appearance through an active silence I have termed the pause. The notion of the pause came from teacher interviews in an ethnographic study of four alternative schools in one Australian organisation working with young people experiencing the extremes of disadvantage. I use the Foucaultian notion of silence to explore the suggestion that the pause is one tactic deployed by this organisation, working to both resist and disrupt the dominance of deficit knowledges. I argue that these educators deployment of the pause demonstrates their formation of a space where new language about these young people is engaged.


Publication title

International Journal of Inclusive Education










Faculty of Education



Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2013 Taylor & Francis This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Inclusive Education on 07 May 2013, available online:

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Equity and access to education