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Article

Amber Moore and Elizabeth Marshall

“Popular media” and “youth resistance” are significant areas of inquiry in studies and theorizations of gender and sexuality in education. Yet, the terms popular media, youth, and resistance are highly contentious, sometimes overlapping and consistently posing definitional challenges. Popular media is at first exactly what it sounds like: broadly accessible and commercially produced texts like the Harry Potter franchise; however, popular media is also deeply complex and contextually determined, shifting over time in accordance with audiences as well as popular discourses to produce plural meanings. Likewise, youth resistance encompasses ever-changing, and often reductively problematic conceptualizations. Young people are frequently misrepresented in popular media as rebellious which in turn informs popular understanding(s) of resistance as calcified, domesticated, fetishized, masculinized, and romanticized. Youth resistance then, is complex, discursive, and a nuanced material reality. The complexity of popular culture and youth’s resistance within and against it demonstrates and demands creativity and criticality.

Article

Jennifer Bethune and Jen Gilbert

School ethnography is a qualitative research method through which the researcher immerses herself in the life of the school, usually for an extended period, and through observation, interviews, and analyses of artifacts and documents explores questions about life in school. The school ethnographer gathers data in the form of fieldnotes, interviews, images of school life, and texts that are part of the school and continually analyses all of this data in order to discover or produce meaning from the patterns that emerge: the routines that shape school life, for instance, and the disturbances that upend these patterns. Finally, the researcher creates a written product. The school ethnography, as a product of research, often emulates the research process by immersing the reader in the life of the school and by making transparent the challenges and delights of the research. By drawing on social theories that seek to understand systems of domination and oppression, school ethnographies can expose how inequalities circulate through the everyday life of schools, affecting students’ and teachers’ experiences and shaping policy and curriculum. Many school ethnographies highlight the positionality of the researcher as not-quite insider and not-quite outsider as a way to foreground the ways that power relations shape research in schools, influencing all stages of the research process, including the selection of a site, the researcher’s behavior in the field, the kinds of data that are recorded as fieldnotes, the approach to analysis, and the writerly decisions that shape the final product. Through this recursive and reflexive approach to research, school ethnographers lay the groundwork for social change that is grounded in a comprehensive, detailed, and complex portrait of life in the school.

Article

Marilia Sposito and Felipe Tarábola

The specifics of approaches to qualitative research in the field of youth studies in Brazil are presented. Research projects that focus on young people should recognize the specificities that can be translated into analyses of the diversity and inequalities of youth experience. Two aspects are key: Markers of age can inform early approaches, since there is international agreement on the general extent of this stage of life (from 15 to 29 years of age), and the occurrence of differences among adolescents, that is, young people approaching the age of majority and young people in transition to adult life. Thus, the process of data collection needs to allow for the possibility of bricolage techniques in order to effectively study the subjects, presupposing their interactions and positions in contemporary society. Starting from an initial reflection on the main milestones that guide the very idea of youth and the ways in which the studies in education have dialogued with this field in Brazil, four aspects need to be considered when carrying out empirical investigations: contexts and research spaces; the successive approximations and times of investigation; sounds and images; and the potential benefits and hazards of using virtual networks and the internet for data collection in studies of young people. This combination of procedures requires the researcher to exercise sociological imagination and act with some degree of creativity. However, there must also be rigorous care in selecting research techniques and applying them to whatever the project may be.

Article

Stuart R. Poyntz and Jennesia Pedri

Media in the 21st century are changing when, where, what, and how young people learn. Some educators, youth researchers, and parents lament this reality; but youth, media culture, and learning nevertheless remain entangled in a rich set of relationships today. These relationships and the anxieties they produce are not new; they echo worries about the consequences of young people’s media attachments that have been around for decades. These anxieties first appeared in response to the fear that violence, vulgarity, and sexual desire in early popular culture was thought to pose to culture. Others, however, believed that media could be repurposed to have a broader educational impact. This sentiment crept into educational discourses throughout the 1960s in a way that would shift thinking about youth, media culture, and education. For example, it shaped the development of television shows such as Sesame Street as a kind of learning portal. In addition to the idea that youth can learn from the media, educators and activists have also turned to media education as a more direct intervention. Media education addresses how various media operate in and through particular institutions, technologies, texts, and audiences in an effort to affect how young people learn and engage with media culture. These developments have been enhanced by a growing interest in a broad project of literacy. By the 1990s and 2000s, media production became a common feature in media education practices because it was thought to enable young people to learn by doing, rather than just by analyzing or reading texts. This was enabled by the emergence of new digital media technologies that prioritize user participation. As we have come to read and write media differently in a digital era, however, a new set of problems have arisen that affect how media cultures are understood in relation to learning. Among these issues is how a participatory turn in media culture allows others, including corporations, governments, and predatory individuals, to monitor, survey, coordinate, and guide our activities as never before. Critical media literacy education addresses this context and continues to provide a framework to address the future of youth, media culture and learning.

Article

Youth gangs of color in the United States have emerged in the context of larger structural forces. For example, Mexican American, black, and Vietnamese/Asian American youth gang formation in Southern California is tied to their respective racialized communities’ initial movements into the Los Angeles area (from Mexico and Vietnam, and for blacks, from the U.S. South). Structural forces such as political/social unrest and economic instability, both domestically and in their sending countries; the role of the U.S. military and economic apparatus; and (im)migration patterns and trends impact the particularities of youth gang subculture—including protection and self-preservation; ethnic pride and desire for family; having to navigate, resist, and rearticulate youth identities (in and outside the context of schooling); and the desire to garner money, power, and respect in a capitalist context. U.S. racism and state violence have also had an impact on youth gang formation. Anti-youth legislation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in particular, have helped shape the discourse on youth of color, criminality, “gangs,” space, and citizenship over the past three decades. Although such youth are typically on the margins or left out of educational institutions, a critical pedagogy provides a space for engagement and hope.

Article

Edgar J. González-Gaudiano and Ana Lucía Maldonado-González

Without having yet overcome the problems that gave rise to climate change, the field of environmental education faces new challenges because of the onslaughts of this phenomenon. Growing contingents of people in many parts of the world are periodically affected by extreme hydro-meteorological phenomena, such as severe droughts in Africa and increasingly intense cyclones that affect tropical coastal areas. These environmental threats can be aggravated by decades of investment in development programs at the global and local levels that end up affecting vulnerable populations the most. Its consequences have generated synergic processes of humanitarian emergencies of unprecedented magnitude, in the form of increasing waves of temporary or permanently displaced populations, because of disasters, water and food shortages, as well as armed conflicts and social violence that demand more resources to alleviate long-standing poverty and environmental degradation. This complex situation entails colossal challenges but also new opportunities to face processes of environmental education, which require a different strategic approach to trigger processes of social resilience when communities face adversities. This, in a stable, organized way and to allow societies to learn from them, encourages changes that the societies consider necessary to reduce their risks and vulnerabilities. Social resilience is not a state to be achieved, but a community process in continuous movement, in which various actors and social agents participate. Some of the community actions to be carried out during a social resilience capacity building process must be oriented toward mitigating physical and social vulnerability, adapting to the new conditions generated by climate change, and managing risks, among other actions that invite collective learning of lived experiences. For instance, a case study carried out with high school students in the municipalities of La Antigua, Cotaxtla, and Tlacotalpan in the state of Veracruz (Mexico) allowed researchers to better understand the social resilience construction processes. Initially, an attempt was made to analyze the social representation of climate change in communities vulnerable to floods resulting from extreme tropical storms. Subsequently, the way in which the students perceived their risks and their vulnerability was investigated, as well as the guidelines that govern the community behavior in the face of climate events with extreme values (magnitude, intensity, duration), which tended to exceed the capacities of communities to face them appropriately. Youngsters were chosen because they are a highly influential population in the promotion of social resilience, as they are often voluntarily and spontaneously involved in situations of community emergency. This has allowed an understanding of possible routes to undertake environmental education processes, aimed at strengthening capacities so that affected people can adapt to the changes and have strategies to reduce disaster risks in the face of specific critical events. Although the studies examined here are based on experiences in communities in the Mexican coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico, the authors of this article are convinced that their findings can be useful in developing equivalent programs in communities that are similarly vulnerable.

Article

Bic Ngo, Nimo Abdi, and Diana Chandara

Education research has long highlighted gender disparities in the academic achievement of women and men. At the dawn of the 20th century, men attained higher levels of education than women. By the 21st century, women from all racial groups achieved higher levels of education than men. Likewise, among the children of post-1965 “new immigrants,” female students have higher levels of educational attainment than male students. While gender has remained important as a domain of analysis for understanding disparities in education, analyses of the significance of gender in the education of immigrant children have focused primarily on differences in gender norms and expectations of immigrant groups from those of dominant culture in the United States. Such an emphasis disregards the social, cultural, and political dynamics of acculturation and adaptation where gender is shaped by the ethnic family, race and racialization, and religion, among other things. The “caring,” translational work that Mexican American girls do for parents, the racialized gender construction of Southeast Asian American male students as Other (not male), and the Islamophobia faced by Somali American female students wearing hijabs make salient family obligations, race, and religious identity, respectively, in the educational experiences and outcomes of female and male immigrant students. Considerations of gender in the education of immigrant children in the United States necessitate an intersectional analysis that puts gender in conversation with social factors and institutions.

Article

Nancy Lesko, Jacqueline Simmons, and Jamie Uva

Adolescence has been defined as a unique stage of development, and youth are marked and understood by their differences from adults and children. This perceived border between youth and adults also influences curriculum development, since knowledge for youth is often determined by their current developmental stage and/or what they need to know and be able to do when they are adults. Thus, curricular knowledge often participates in keeping youth “less than” adults. When we start with a conception of youth that emphasizes their competence or power, curricular options open. If we recognize that youth can take on political organizing or use social media in more sophisticated ways than adults, schools’ tight management of youth appears overzealous and miseducative. To rethink conceptions of youth, educators must confront the power differentials built into and maintained by school curricular knowledge.

Article

Hope lies at the core of human psyche. It has a unique power to propel individuals, groups, organizations, and communities to action and can sustain their energies to help them achieve their goals. Hope is differentially conceptualized and studied as an emotion; as a positive motivational state incorporating elements of pathways and agency thinking and also as goals pursuit cognitions that can cause emotions; and, lately, as a character strength. Thus, hope research and practice transverses major theoretical and applied fields of psychology (namely positive) developmental, educational, and counseling psychology. Long-established links between hope and well-being places it in a unique position to affect positive youth development through positive education practices but also to enhance physical and mental health and positive psychosocial adaptation throughout the life cycle with the use of successful approaches in therapy and counseling. Established criteria for hope-based interventions and programs were developed all over the world with the express dual aim to enhance well-being and reduce psychopathology in different populations, ranging from children, adolescents, youths, and adults with and without physical and mental health problems and learning disabilities; and also across various settings, as diverse as educational institutions, therapy and counseling, recreational centers, and correctional facilities. Overall, hope-based interventions were successful in enhancing positive psychosocial outcomes and reducing depression and other problems. Underlying mechanisms that drive hope programs include the development of upward spirals of positive emotions that help people build enduring psychosocial resources; the process of goal setting and pursuit in itself; and the identification of optimal combinations of individual characteristics and intervention goals and techniques. A wide range of individual factors, such as participants’ and implementers’ characteristics and levels of motivation, in addition to contextual factors such as protocols, research designs, techniques, materials, analyses, and reporting choices impact the effectiveness of hope interventions. Future research can benefit from targeted hope interventions, matching specific needs, skills, and capacities of people and groups in different settings, including educational, therapy, organizational, and community ones, which can greatly improve academic performance, physical and mental health, productivity, and life quality.

Article

Gender and sexuality are slippery social constructs whose meanings vary across time and place. To capture some of the complexity of these relations, it is necessary to consider their mutable meanings in different parts of the world. This means understanding how gender and sexuality are regulated, produced, consumed, and embodied in young people’s lives transnationally. At a regulatory level, nation-states are found to disseminate different policies and approaches when it comes to young people’s gender and sexual learning. Alongside formal pedagogical approaches, young people’s peer groups and local friendship circles are critical to the production of sexual knowledge and gender practices. In what is a rapidly interconnected world, processes of cultural globalization evident in the spread of film, media, and music are providing new templates from which to transform more “traditional” gender and sexual relations. In consuming global images of gender and sexuality, young people are found to be active and discerning agents who experience and negotiate global processes at a local level, managing risk and carving out new opportunities as they see fit. Young people are seen to perform and embody gender and sexuality in a host of different ways. In doing so, they not only reveal the instability of sex and gender norms but also disclose the intense amount of “gender work” that goes into the performance of gender and sexuality.

Article

Pamela J. Bettis and Nicole Ferry

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of the international bestseller, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (2013), argues that women need to engage more actively in the workplace and take the professional and emotional risks required in leadership. In many ways, Sandberg’s own story is the fulfillment of the promise of the “Alpha Girl,” Harvard psychologist Dan Kindlon’s name for the new face of girlhood. Kindlon maintains that contemporary young Western women have initiated a new era of female empowerment, with girls interested mainly in future careers and not romantic relationships. Meanwhile, the U.S. public discourse pertaining to boys frames them as troubled and in need of more attention. The popular press notes that girls outperform boys in school; that boys are more likely to repeat a grade; more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability; and more likely to be expelled, suspended, and disciplined in school. Furthermore, adolescents who do not adhere to gender normativity or who identify as transgender are continually neglected in mainstream considerations of youth, school policies, curriculum, and educational spaces. Over the course of recent decades, U.S. discourses of adolescence and gender, including those found in popular and academic discussions, have shifted. As girls become the new models of success, as boys are deemed worthy of extra attention, and as gender-transgressive students remain absent from the discussions altogether, it is imperative that educators keep abreast of these changing discourses that shape the way we talk about and understand youth.

Article

Alandis A. Johnson

Trans and gender/queer youth pose some interesting scenarios for education in both secondary and postsecondary realms. Increasing identifications outside of binaries among students, faculty, and staff members who identify as transgender, gender nonconforming, or nonbinary have pushed schools to alter the way these individuals are recognized within these systems. These changes involve deconstructing binaries and the related exclusionary processes and policies. Transgender and gender-expansive youth are challenging the ways in which gender is built into schools, highlighting underlying binaries and structural oppression in all levels of education. Key issues and debates regarding transgender inclusion in educational spheres, such as Title IX, visibility, and knowledge of transgender issues, routes to inclusion, and the fallacy of “best practice.” Generational and cultural differences related to gender recognition and identification will continue to shape educational environments and beyond for years to come.

Article

Youth have a rich history of engaging in activism and organizing within schools to promote equity based on gender, sexuality, and race. Youth equity work in secondary schools includes myriad activities: developing student-led clubs, such as gay-straight alliances (GSAs, also known as gender and sexuality alliances); advocating for inclusive policies, practices, and curriculum; engaging in direct action, such as protests; and developing individual and shared critical consciousness. Situated in the United States, Canada, and other countries, GSAs are a common way that youth have organized to promote equity and justice for youth with marginalized sexualities and genders; they have, however, been critiqued for their lack of inclusion of racially or ethnically marginalized students or attention to intersecting forms of oppression. Opportunities exist within research, education, and practice to understand and address the heterogeneity and intersectionality of GSA groups and members, examine and understand other forms of school-based activism from an intersectional perspective, and recognize and examine school-based equity work within the broader cultural, social, and political contexts that involve families and communities. Youth, teachers, and social workers engaged in equity work in schools must attend to intersectionality and center the needs of the most marginalized within their work.