Preface by Paul Willis
This reader begins a conversation about the many aspects of critical youth studies. Chapters in this volume consider essential issues such as class, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, cultural capital, and schooling in creating a dialogue about and a conversation with youth. In a society that continues to devalue, demonize, and pathologize young women and men, leading names in the academy and youth communities argue that traditional studies of youth do not consider young people themselves. Engaging with today’s young adults in formal and informal pedagogical settings as an act of respect, social justice, and transgression creates a critical pedagogical path in which to establish a meaningful twenty-first century critical youth studies.
36 Redefining the Notion of Youth: Contextualizing the Possible for Transformative Youth Leadership
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Introduction: What’s Wrong with You?
When I was hired as a high school drama teacher in 1987, it was expected that I “bring” back a dying program by producing and directing an enormous musical production. Creating a theatrical community while mounting Grease was part of my own personal mandate. The students, musicians, stagehands, all of us, became parts of a dynamic whole. The group was a social and artistic organism, enjoying one another. Jeremy was cast as Kenickie, the hell-raising greaser who becomes the potential father attached to Rizzo’s possible pregnancy. Lanky, funny, and flexible, Jeremy had a dynamite voice, he was perfect for the part. Early one morning, following the previous evening’s run-through of “Greased Lightning,” my office phone rang:
I’m looking for Ms. Steinberg You found me, can I help you? This is Reverend Erb.
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