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Critical Youth Studies Reader

Preface by Paul Willis

Awad Ibrahim and Shirley R. Steinberg

This book won the 2014 AESA (American Educational Studies Association) Critics Choice Award.

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.
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42 I hope I don’t see you tomorrow

← 478 | 479 →CHAPTER 42

Extract

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see it.” —Confucius

I suppose that every occupation has a variable that keeps it fresh. Doctors see new patients, painters use different canvases and plumbers have to operate on different toilets. As a teacher at Passages Academy, a school that caters to students awaiting trial, I have one glaring variable. The building is the same. The books are the same. I am the same. But my students are always different and their tenure is most often brief.

More than just a high turnover rate, all of the students in my class must be attended to, regardless of their learning discrepancies, their unstable court-involved lives and their prior learning experiences. It is the definition of a heterogeneous group. Some students walk through my doors reading at a second grade level; some can breeze through Melville in a week. Some have been arrested for violent crimes, while others have arrived in my classroom because of minor cafeteria skirmishes. These differences are irrelevant to me. They have to be. I am there to teach and to focus exclusively on their progress.

It is impossible to stagnate in this environment. Some of the lessons stay the same year to year, but I am constantly in flux. I take inspiration from the lessons I teach, from the teaching methods of my colleagues and, most of all, from my students.

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