Review by Adam Fletcher
The most important contribution to our collective work
for social change by and with young people in recent years is
not being talked about. Perhaps because it is the most dangerous.
Truth is told, lies exposed, agendas revealed, and purpose
The Abandoned Generation: Democracy Beyond the
Culture of Fear was written by cultural theorist Henry
Giroux. Giroux has been a scholar for 25 years, publishing more
than 30 books and 250 scholarly articles. Some people refer to
his work as socialist, dissident, and revolutionary; all very
stand-offish terms for a man dedicated to
revealing the various agendas against
young people, democracy and social justice today.
And reveal plots he does.
In this latest book Giroux carefully outlines several competing
agendas for America's children and youth, including that of the :
"Compassionate conservatives" of the Bush Administration
destroying the federal funding base for several social programs
designed to support low-income children and youth across the
Corporations fighting for a chance to run America's
schools, determined to indoctrinate the values of patriotic
consumerism in school students by taking the "public" out of
public schools, and;
Mass media's continued assault on mass culture's
perceptions of youth by consistently portraying young people as
apathetic, trashed out waste who are only motivated by
punishment and rewards.
Giroux speaks directly to young activists today, recognizing the
power behind a lot of different groups, and offering a challenge
for young people to connect with larger movements for social
justice, like fighting for a radical, inclusive democracy
instead of simply an end to sweatshop labor.
He also addresses educators, continuously calling for social
justice, empowerment, and action in classrooms. Giroux shows
how standardized tests serve multiple gods, enforcing racism,
consumption, and class segregation in the name of "high
performance." There is a constant thread throughout the book
calling for educators to teach critical thinking, active
democracy, and community action for social change.
At a time when a lot of people see "Hope" as a dirty word,
calls it front and center. He challenges the reader to examine
the power of Hope for themselves, and calls for us to remove
Hope from a silly, idyllic notion of "someday faraway" to a
present, guiding, active notion that can guide and engage
people, young and old, everyday.
In my continued effort to explore the depth, purpose, and
effects of youth-led community action, I have not found another
book that is so determined to tell the truth; the challenge now
is to get people to read it. I thoroughly recommend 'The
Abandoned Generation' to anyone dedicated to promoting social
change by and with young people around the world, and eagerly
await for the action that will follow.
The Abandoned Generation: Democracy Beyond the Culture of
Author: Henry Giroux
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