In the 1980s, researchers established the need to document and analyse the educational attitudes, behaviours and outcomes of ordinary kids as a means of developing a holistic account of school experience. Yet, while significant attention is given to extremes in educational attitudes and behaviours, ordinariness tends to remain overlooked in contemporary research and policy discourses. This article contributes to this void by presenting data from a qualitative study of young men s school-to-work transitions. Their educational experiences at both compulsory and post-compulsory levels illustrate a distinctive middle-ground, defying typically conceived dualisms of resistance or engagement. Alongside research interest in the extremes of success and failure , such ordinary experiences can enable us to reinvigorate and refine our conceptual repertoire. (c) 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.