Providing a historical perspective on a modern phenomenon is no easy task, but Thomas Hine has done an admirable job cataloging that ever-changing creature we know as the American teenager. Beginning with a look at colonial times and ending with the present-day burger-flipping menaces portrayed in the press, The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager
is a fascinating look at a culture that we take for granted in these times, yet is quite a recent development. Looking deeply at the economic and educational realities of people ages 10 through 20 over the last 300 years, Hine takes readers through a world where teens were expected to contribute greatly to their family's financial well-being; in fact, in the early years of the industrial revolution, employers would often refuse to hire the head of the household unless he had several sons to offer as part of a package deal. While the first few chapters cover 50 to 100 years in one shot, time moves less rapidly beginning with the 20th century, and each decade earns its own complete chapter. Using personal stories from revolutionary-era students, 19th-century millworkers and immigrants, and classic all-American cheerleaders from the 1950s, we're given an accurate picture of what life was really like for inexperienced kids. The evolution of modern education is closely examined and will provide a wealth of interesting insights for today's educators. What was once meant as a viable alternative to the college experience has now simply become a holding pen for teens, some who may go on to a university, some who are destined to join the ranks of the perpetually underemployed. The last chapter offers a few possible suggestions for bringing realistic change into the current system; the rest of the book is sure to provide plenty of inspiration for readers to invent their own set of educational possibilities. --Jill Lightner
From Publishers Weekly
In the first decade of the 21st century, the U.S. will have its largest-ever generation of teenagers. Even if that were not so, this book would be vitally important. Hine (Populuxe) covers 400 years of American history in his fluent, broad-brushed account of the paradoxical position of those enduring their adolescence in American society. Generally viewed as the best of times and as times of madness and despair, the teen years have constantly shifted shape in adult consciousness. Pointing out that the term "teenager" itself is young (it dates from the 1940s, when it described a new consumer market), Hine convincingly rebuts the belief that teendom is a natural stage of human development. He is irritated with his own baby boomer generation for failing to produce a real revolution, comparing its efforts unfavorably with the campus unrest of the 1760s at Yale, Harvard and elsewhere, when students "imbibed the Spirit of the times," and many contributed to the American Revolution. In Hine's view, boomers have gone from blaming their parents for the ills of society to blaming their own children, about whom they hold "deeply contradictory" beliefs. Hine focuses on high school (without which, he contends, "there are no teenagers") as the "weak link" in the educational system, "because Americans have never been able to agree on what it should accomplish" yet cannot imagine young people in roles outside the schools and colleges where they are, he charges, warehoused. Anyone who professes concern about America's future should read and ponder this provocative, well-argued book. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.