Youth, Education, and the Role of Society examines the “learning landscape” currently available to American adolescents, arguing that we need to expand, enrich, and diversify the learning opportunities available to young people today.
Central to the book is Robert Halpern’s view that we depend too exclusively on schools to meet the full range of young people’s developmental needs. “High school learning as typically structured is just too fragmented, isolated, and abstract to meet young people’s developmental needs,” he argues. “It relies too much on century-old curriculum and pedagogy, and is too oriented, in an unreflective way, toward preparing young people for four-year college.”
As Halpern notes, school leaders are already aware of the limitations posed by traditional high schools and are aiming for reformed school institutions and curricula. However, he contends that “better meeting young people’s learning and developmental needs will require far more than a reconceptualized high school experience. It will mean a fundamentally different understanding of where learning can take place and the wholehearted participation of a variety of institutions and sectors of society.”
The book’s initial chapters explore the nature of productive learning experiences for adolescents. The volume then looks at how various institutions—including schools, after-schools, businesses, and nonprofit and civic organizations—can make unique and indispensable contributions to those crucial learning experiences. Halpern also considers how other countries “structure learning” during these formative years, and he concludes with an exploration of the social and cultural challenges ahead—challenges we must meet, he argues, if we are to enlist and sustain the necessary participation of institutions and adults in an expanded and enriched program for preparing young people for adult life and success.
A bold and wide-ranging effort to examine—and reimagine—learning and youth development, this book promises to be a major contribution to the literature on adolescent education.
In his newest book, Youth, Education and the Role of Society, Robert Halpern has struck a rich chord with the work many of us must continue to do to advance productive learning for all youth. This wonderfully informative book lays out ways in which school and nonschool learning urgently need to be connected to improve the life pathways for all our high school–age youth. — Elliot Washor, codirector, Big Picture Learning
Robert Halpern makes an enormously powerful, persuasive case for work-based learning as central to the healthy development of adolescents. This is a must-read book for policy makers and practitioners searching for a new path for the revitalization of the American high school. — Robert B. Schwartz, cochair, Pathways to Prosperity State Network, and professor of practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Robert Halpern writes with clarity and passion about the developmental needs of adolescents and how society can create institutional pathways to support those needs. This new offering is perfectly timed to guide the national debates about dropout prevention, out-of-school-time programs, high school reforms, and expanding learning opportunities for young people. — Robert C. Granger, president, William T. Grant Foundation