School choices and successful formats in secondary education: paths and timings

  • Maria Manuel Vieira
  • Lia Pappámikail
  • Cátia Nunes


The obligation to go to school for an increasingly long period of time has turned schooling into a crucial dimension of biographical construction. In this respect the transition to secondary education is proving to be a particularly critical moment, given that the young person is asked to define a project (for the future) by choosing an educational path. The fact that this occurs during a life stage — adolescence — that is characterised by adherence to an exploratory ethic, this projection into the future can lead to tension between biographical rhythms (based on exploration) involved in the construction of the self and institutional calendars (based on the obligation to choose) imposed by the education system. In the present article the authors propose a model for school paths in secondary education that takes account of such tensions.