Acknowledgments, Series Editor’s Introduction Michael W. Apple, Introduction Troubling Teenagers 1. Up and Down the Great Chain of Being Progress and Degeneration in Children, Race, and Nation 2. Making Adolescence at the Turn of the Century Romancing and Administering Youth 3. Back to the Future Model Middle Schools Recirculate Fin-de-Siècle Ideas 4. Time Matters in Adolescence 5.Cold War Containments: Freedom, Youth, and Identity in the 1950s 6."Before Their Time" Teenage Mothers Violate the Order of Proper Development 7. Our Guys/Good Guys Playing with High School Athletic Privilege and Power 8. When the Romance Is Gone…Youth Development In New Times 9. Cutting Free from the Great Chain of Being Toward Untimely Teenagers Afterword to the Second Edition Notes References Author Index Subject Index
Act Your Age!: A Cultural Construction of Adolescence / Edition 2by Nancy Lesko
Pub. Date: 03/30/2012
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Are our current ways of talking about "the problem of adolescence" really that different than those of past generations? For the past decade, Act Your Age! has provided a provocative and now classic analysis of the accepted ways of viewing teens. By employing a groundbreaking "history of the present" methodology that resists traditional chronology, author/em>
Are our current ways of talking about "the problem of adolescence" really that different than those of past generations? For the past decade, Act Your Age! has provided a provocative and now classic analysis of the accepted ways of viewing teens. By employing a groundbreaking "history of the present" methodology that resists traditional chronology, author Nancy Lesko analyzes both historical and present social and political factors that produce the presumed "natural adolescent." This resulting seminal work in the field of youth study forces readers to rethink the dominant interpretations on the social construction of adolescence from the 19th century through the present day.
This new edition is updated throughout and includes a full new chapter on 1950s-era assumptions about adolescence and the corresponding connections to teens today. As in all chapters, Lesko provides careful examination of the concerns of nationalism, sexuality, and social order in terms of how they are projected onto the definitions of adolescents in the media, in schools, and in the home.
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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 developmental 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.