University of Rochester

Professor, Students Collaborate on New Book Examining the Rich Resources Marginalized Youth Bring to the Classroom

January 25, 2010

Nancy Ares, associate professor in teaching and curriculum at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education, has co-authored and edited a book that examines the rich resources and practices that youth of color and those living in poverty develop through the varied contexts of their everyday lives and bring to classroom learning.

Youth-full Productions: Cultural Practices and Constructions of Content and Social Spaces, published December 2009 by Peter Lang Publishing, is a collection of chapters highlighting how marginalized youth are active agents in creating cultural practices, social spaces, and disciplinary learning.

The nine chapters in Youth-full Productions were written collaboratively by Warner School doctoral students and senior social science scholars. Scholars contributing include Warner School Teaching and Curriculum Chair Joanne Larson, 2009-10 American Educational Research Association (AERA) President Carol Lee, funds of knowledge anthropologist Norma González from the University of Arizona, and urban education expert Michelle Fine from the City University of New York, Graduate Center.

Each chapter looks at the life experiences embedded in cultural communities—including language, communication, interaction patterns, goals, and beliefs associated with family, peer, and social networks—as valuable resources that youth bring to learning, and shares what schools can learn about and from youth regarding these everyday practices.

"Certainly, many non-dominant youth are subjected to severe economic and educational hardships, negative stereotypes, and maltreatment," says Ares. "Much important work does focus on the challenges faced by marginalized youth, but we developed this book to shift the gaze to less well-understood theory and practice that view youth as resource rich and to make sense of how they develop powerful resources and practices in the face of difficult circumstances and contexts."

The book resulted from a compilation of research from an advanced doctoral seminar, titled "Cultural Practices as Resources for Learning and Development," that was taught by Ares in 2008. Fourteen doctoral students, who each co-authored chapters in Youth-full Productions, spent a semester researching topics that made connections to mathematics, literacy, science learning, and cultural practices with a focus on informing pedagogy and future research. Ares decided that the book would be a great way for the students to disseminate their research.

The book then expanded to include the research and practice of six senior authors, scholars and professionals, who supported the students' work, to elaborate on what Ares and the students had begun. The book also includes the editor's responses to the two main sections of this volume, "Youth as Producers" and "Disciplinary Learning and Youth Cultural Resources," organized as a conversation-in-writing with students from San Francisco State University.

Ninth- and tenth-grade students, Chantice Dukes and Assata Johnson, with the assistance of their art teacher, Megan Burt, from the Rochester Academy Charter School, designed the cover for Youth-full Productions.

Ares focuses her research on classroom and community practices, with particular attention to the way that cultural and linguistic diversity and social interaction affect teaching, learning, and community transformation. She looks at issues of equity, agency, and participation in both school and in community reform. Her work has appeared in numerous education journals, including The American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, and Cognition and Instruction. She is also co-author, with Edward Buendía from the University of Utah, of the book Geographies of Difference: The Social Production of the East Side, West Side, and Central City School.

About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education offers master's and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, counseling, human development, and educational policy. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its Ed.D. programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform.