» Act Your Age!: A Cultural Construction of Adolescence (Critical Social Thought)
eBook Act Your Age!: A Cultural Construction of Adolescence (Critical Social Thought) ePub
by Frank Topping
: Frank Topping
: Routledge; 1 edition (April 17, 2001)
: doc txt azw lit
: 1507 kb
: 1121 kb
First Published in 2001. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
Right at the start of this trenchant analysis of the ways in which 20th century US culture has constructed adolescence, Lesko situates her work within a postmodern discursive theoretical framework. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that she focuses her deconstruction of 20th-century adolescence using a critical lens that foregrounds the impact that race, class, gender, and sexuality have had on the ways in which we conceive of adolescence as a development stage of perpetual “becoming.”
The first two chapters of this slim but powerful work are the lengthiest, and they establish the cultural/historical context of our current cultural perception of adolescence. Lesko’s insightful explanation of recapitulation theory and the Great Chain of Being clarifies the socio-political concepts that propelled US culture to appropriate adolescence as an engine to drive the dominance of white male hegemony. Lesko then tackles the ascent of the middle school model, the perception of time, the Cold War, teen pregnancy, the privileging of sports in both high schools and the broader US culture, and the contemporary obsession with rigorous STEM education as tools used to construct adolescence as a way to perpetuate heterosexual white male cultural dominance.
As convincing as many of her arguments are—and Lesko is a compelling writer with a talent for clearly articulating sophisticated and complex ideas—she sometimes relies a bit too much on stereotypes and extreme examples to support her arguments. For example, in the chapter entitled “Our Guys/Good Guys: Playing with high school athletic privilege and power,” Lesko focuses on a preservice Social Studies teacher named Woody—who exemplifies every negative stereotype imaginable about Social Studies teachers. He advocates a teacher-centered approach, boasting that he will lecture and show films, he discredits multicultural education, and he blatantly claims that he intends to become a teacher not because he is passionate about education but because all he really wants to do is coach. Woody’s absurd approach to his future profession overshadows a great deal of Lesko’s analysis of the ways in which many recent “reformist” trends in education are veiled attempts to remasculinize US schools. Her somewhat facile use of the terms “Jocks” and “Burnouts” in the following chapter similarly essentializes undoubtedly more complex groups of students who find themselves in various positions along the power spectrum in US schools.
Overall, “Act Your Age!” is a powerful text—one that will inform my future instruction of preservice teachers because it clearly identifies and explicates a multitude of factors affecting adolescents and the ways that adults assert power to “manage” youth.
A classic in Critical Youth Studies, and yes a reminder not to reinscribe familiar youth debates.
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