(Re-)positioning educational psychology in high-risk school communities

Helen Dunbar-Krige, Jace Pillay, Elizabeth Henning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article asks questions about the discourse in community psychology, specifically as it manifests in educational psychology research, in South Africa. With the articles in this special issue of Education as Change in mind, we examine the role of the ecology metaphor in this field and trace aspects of its articulation in a section of literature. We argue for a shared discursive practice of community psychology in a school context, with a language of description for the field that steers clear of clichés and rhetoric, and that uses the ecology metaphor aptly. We further make a case for educational psychologists - especially those working in the national and provincial departments of education - to be trained to do some of the large-scale preventative and interventionist research work. While endorsing what James Kelly refers to as the 'constraints of pathology discourse', we argue for a frame of reference that realistically elicits the strengths of a community and the agency of its members. We conclude by warning that small idiographic descriptive inquiries, coupled with similarly brief, small scale interventions, cannot claim to be (comprehensive) 'community' interventions, but that they can be seen, rather, as 'interventions in a community'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S3-S16
JournalEducation as Change
Issue numberSUPPL.1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Community psychology
  • Educational psychology
  • High-risk schools
  • Positioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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