The goal of this book is to encourage educators and researchers to
understand the complexities of adolescent gang members' lives in order to
rethink their assumptions about these students in school. The particular
objective is to situate four gang members as literate, caring students from
loving families whose identities and literacy keep them on the margins of
school. The research described in this book suggests that advocacy is a
particularly effective form of critical ethnography. Smith and Whitmore
argue that until schools, as communities of practice, enable children and
adolescents to retain identities from the communities in which they are
full community members, frightening numbers of students are destined to fail.
The stories of four Mexican American male adolescents, who were active
members of a gang and Smith's students in an alternative high school
program, portray the complicated, multiple worlds in which these boys live.
As sons and teenage parents they live in a family community; as CRIP
members they live in a gang community; as "at risk" students, drop-outs,
and graduates they live in a school community, and as a result of their
illegal activities they live in the juvenile court community. The authors
theorize about the boys' literacy in each of their communities. Literacy is
viewed as ideological, related to power, and embedded in a sociocultural
context. Vivid examples of conversation, art, tagging, rap, poetry, and
other language and literacy events bring the narratives to life in figures
and photographs in all the chapters. Readers will find this book engaging
and readable, yet thought provoking and challenging.
Audiences for "Literacy and Advocacy in Adolescent Family, Gang, School,
and Juvenile Court Communities" include education researchers,
professionals, and students in the areas of middle/high school education,
at-risk adolescent psychology, and alternative community
programs--specifically those interested in literacy education,
sociocultural theory, and popular culture.