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‘Invented Adolescents’ & Classroom Activities

Guest Post from Lucia Brockway, a preservice English teacher working toward her Master’s of Education at New York University. Lucia is part of the #teachread project within which her work with The Perks of Being a Wallflower can be found.

This post is response to Mark Lewis and Robert Petrone‘s article “Although Adolescence Need Not Be Violent,” published in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. In this article, the authors talk about the “invented adolescent,” or the image of the teen teachers have in our minds as a product of the assumptions often made of adolescent students.  These students are unfairly categorized as being in a tumultuous, hormone-fired transitional stage, one that is accompanied by poor decisions, angst, and a pervasive exposure to dangerous influences.

School curricula is often designed to reflect this imposed state of being; books rife with risky adolescent behavior are assigned and students are urged to construct parallels between “unruly” characters and their own selves. It is also assumed that adolescents are unfinished adults, searching desperately for their own identities. By homogenizing adolescents in this way, teachers are denying students of their own varied personal histories.

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