I don’t read Wired that much but this article by Daniel Roth was kind of provocative. It presents a few schools where some reforms have been implemented that would try to make kids all “geeks.” Okay, so that’s not particularly provocative. The interesting part to me is how the means to this end is to break down youth culture in the school and to surround them by adults throughout the day:
But more important, Rosenstock keeps the students surrounded by adults. There are no teachers’ bathrooms or lounges. Parents roam the halls. And the students are required to present their work to outsiders. This, it turns out, is the key to geekifying education. “A big chunk of the school experience is having them hang out with the adults they could imagine becoming,” says private-equity manager Tom Vander Ark, former head of education investments for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a onetime school superintendent. “A big high school has a youth-owned culture. You’ve got to break that.”
Huh. Rather than see schools as being the proxy for a particular style of “adult culture” with many kids getting the shaft, it turns it completely around and sees that youth culture pervades schools. That’s reminiscent of Paul Willis’ argument in Learning to Labour (Put rather poorly: Youth have some agency in their path to the class reproduction that is a product of schooling). I don’t know who Daniel Roth is or if the schools that he’s talking about are as rosy as he presents them, but this really is getting my brain going.
As an aside, perhaps the school referred to above might also break down typical “adult culture” in the school as well and perhaps that makes as big a difference as the break down in youth culture? After all, the adults lose their bathrooms, lounges, and have to be around kids all day. A study of the adults at that kind of school would be really interesting to compliment a study of where “youth culture” get relocated.